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Growing algae in-between the Dutch tomatoes

In the Spring of 2008, grower Van der Lans conducted a small-scale trial with the cultivation of algae in photo bioreactors in an empty greenhouse. A photo-bioreactor is made of transparent tubes containing algae water exposed to light, so that photosynthesis can occur with the aim of increasing the algae (See photo below). To this end, a specialized company (AlgaeLink), outfitted tubes with a pumping system. The project focused on algae cultivation for biofuels for aviation and was monitored by students of Hogeschool Zeeland.

During the trial numerous problems occurred, for which no solution was available. A lack of experience with algae cultivation in closed systems proved to be the biggest drawback. 

A joint follow-up trial saw the cultivation of algae in-between existing crops. In this case, tomato plants. The purpose of the follow-up, apart from algal culture, was the development of a low-maintenance system that produces algae alongside prevailing horticultural products. An additional benefit was found in a more efficient use of greenhouse energy. Further testing will show if this dual cultivation will be feasible in future horticulture.

Source: Lans

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