Sludge treatment provider teams up with indoor aquaponics farmer

Fish farming sludge treatment specialist Blue Ocean Technology has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Fusion Farms, which operates a hurricane-resistant vertical indoor aquaponics farm in Puerto Rico.

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Fusion grows tilapia in tanks in the building in the country’s fifth-largest city, Mayagüez, and uses the nutrient-rich water from the tanks to grow basil, lettuce, mint, coriander and microgreens. The plants take up some of the nutrients, helping the recirculation process.

The company, led by president and chief scientific officer Dr Anabelle Morales Droz, supplies 42 restaurants, three distributors, and two grocery chains and has big plans. It is raising money to increase production capacity and expand operations in Puerto Rico, across the Caribbean and into the United States and elsewhere.

Hans Runshaug: We give Fusion the ability to create an entirely new product category.

More sustainable

Hans Runshaug, chief executive of Norway-based Blue Ocean Technology, said: “Dr Anabelle Morales Droz and the team at Fusion Farms can grow 9-12 times the annual yield of traditional farming with only 10% of the water usage, and they are already using the highly valuable nutrient water from the aquaponics system as a completely organic wet fertiliser.

“What we give them the ability to do is remove the water from that valuable resource and create an entirely new product category.

“We see Fusion Farms paving the way for a more sustainable agriculture model in virtually any ‘food desert’ anywhere in the world, with environmentally protected indoor facilities to provide food security and resiliency for the people of the world.”

Fusion Farms uses aquaponics to grow tilapia and a variety of plants. Click image to enlarge.

Scalable model

Morales Droz said: “At Fusion Farms, we have created a model for repeatable, scalable food production while pushing forward extensive scientific research on closed loop aquaponic ecosystems.

“This kind of agricultural innovation is becoming increasingly critical for sustaining the food supply of large populations of at-risk communities in the face of uncertain economies and climatic challenges.”

According to its website, Fusion Farms is seeking $5 million through a Series B equity offering for the building of additional large-scale production facilities and operations and has so far raised 40% of the target sum.   

‘Staggering’ opportunity

In information about the offer on its website, Fusion Farms says it has already secured an agreement with a large wholesale distributor, Caribbean Produce, adding: “Costco and Wal-Mart are ready to sign long-term purchase agreements as soon as we are able to supply in greater quantity to them as well.

“Puerto Rico, where Fusion Farms has initially established operations, is a food desert that imports approximately $3.5 billion of product that can be produced locally.”

It adds that opportunity in Puerto Rico alone is “staggering”.

Part of Salmon Evolution's sludge drying system being transported to the site last week.

Salmon Evolution

Meanwhile, Blue Ocean Technology was this week setting up a sludge plant delivered to on-land salmon farmer Salmon Evolution, which is planning to grow 7,900 tonnes (head on gutted) of Atlantic salmon in the first phase of a development which will eventually produce 31,500 tonnes HOG per year.

Runshaug said the plant will dewater sludge to a dry matter percentage that is optimal for the next link in the value chain.

“Different alternatives are always considered. Here, the closest opportunity will be to deliver to plants that will produce biogas. There is recycled energy production where both sludge from agriculture and sludge from salmon production in combination, can boost the effect in biogas production,” he told Fish Farming Expert’s Norwegian sister site,

Local solutions

Runshaug believes that Salmon Evolution has been built up with a high level of professional competence in all areas.

“For our part, it was an honour to be invited to a professional and well-planned tender round, where we knew there was strong competition,” said the Blue Ocean boss. “Part of our optimisation is to prioritise local solutions where we are. It is seldom sustainable to transport sludge long distances. Furthermore, we know that great emphasis was placed on our investment in digitisation and modern monitoring systems.

“Salmon Evolution has also contributed well to our own development of health and safety, quality and project management systems and procedures. There is no better teacher than a demanding and professional customer.”