Seaweed agribusiness innovative thinking “only hope” for environmental sustainability and food production challenges

by | Nov 29, 2023 | News

An historic agreement was signed today between a pioneering innovator in seaweed, and Crown Research Institute AgResearch.

AgResearch signed the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Paeroa-based AgriSea with the promise of benefit for the primary sector and prosperous agribusinesses and communities.

Guests included Coromandel MP Scott Simpson, who reflected on his own farming grandparents’ time when milking sheds were built next to streams for easy effluent disposal, and farmers “farmed with a matchbox”.

“That didn’t make them bad people or bad farmers, that was just the commonly accepted practice of the day,” Simpson said. “We’ve learnt a lot along the way, and some of the things we used to do, we wouldn’t dream of doing today.

“What are some of the things people will say 50 years from now about about our practices today?

“This MOU will stand the test of time, and it’s a significant step in the journey of AgriSea. I urged them to keep going with their innovation and passion.”

AgResearch CEO Sue Bidrose said she had seen many MoU’s, and the most meaningful were those based on shared values to drive change.

“Nobody is particularly interested in an MoU that wants to keep things the same. AgriSea embody change and we’re so proud to be connected up with you. It’s good for our rep, and it’s good for our sense of what we’re doing in the world.”

Sue Bidrose talked about Government agencies that were old, established institutions and compared this to the drive for innovation and difference from AgriSea.

Family-owned AgriSea’s primary products are made from a species of New Zealand seaweed for the New Zealand farming and horticulture sectors.

Sue Bidrose said she had attended a recent conference where the twin challenges of food security and environmental sustainability were discussed, relating it back to the work of AgriSea.

“Over the next 30 years the world has to produce as much food as it’s had to in the last 2000 years, and that is terrifying actually. And it’s with your kind of thinking and innovation and new ways of doing things sped up and on steroids that is the only hope we’ve got in meeting that challenge,” she told AgriSea.

AgriSea owners Clare and Tane Bradley recently returned from the world Agritech conference in the UK and Europe and AgriSea CEO Clare said New Zealand had the opportunity to fast track what the world needs through partnership and collaboration.

AgriSea and AgResearch have worked together for several years in the areas of alternative proteins from seaweeds, soils and social science.

The MoU furthered collaboration areas, including understanding the unique attributes and benefits of seaweed bio stimulants for soil health, pasture growth, fertiliser and emissions reductions and seaweed for alternative proteins.

“The messages are clear – we’ve reached peak chemistry – we must work together to find tools to help our farmers to meet the market demand and our responsibility as kaitiaki,” said Bradley.

“AgriSea is committed to providing innovative and effective seaweed products that add value to both people and the planet,” she said. “It is about respecting all knowledge and working together to get there faster.”

“It is a journey that promises innovation, sustainability, indigeneity and a profound impact on the way we farm,” said Bradley.

AgriSea is already using its 26-year knowledge to host the “Rere ki Uta, Rere ki Tai” research project, which seeks to identify pathways for farming systems that enhance the mana (prestige) and mauri (life-force) of soil-health.

Through collaboration with 10 farms in the Waikato and Bay of Plenty, it employs independent experts to assess any on-farm changes in soil health, animal wellbeing, milk and meat quality, ecological and environmental health, rural community and farmer wellbeing, and farm finances.

Photo by Ben Wicks on Unsplash

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