Gotta say that I don’t see it

Sure, as a niche product for those who wish to play with such things but as a major addition to life?

They are growing three fast-growing species of kelp that can be used to make everything from a biodegradable alternative to a plastic bottles to an umami-rich condiment already stocked in Selfridges, as well as eco-friendly fertiliser and cattle feed.

Plenty of island type places used to do this. Use seaweed as fertiliser. Amazingly, they all stopped doing so the moment that artificial fertilisers became available.

Always a useful question about these returns to these old ways ideas. Why are they the old ways, why were they abandoned?

One guess about seaweed as fertiliser would be the amount of human labour that has to go into such a system…….

18 thoughts on “Gotta say that I don’t see it”

  1. Umami-rich, eh?
    Funny how glutamates aren’t the devil incarnate if it comes from Woo-approved sources.
    Almost as if the “glutamates will keeeeeelll youuuu!!!one” hype was, in fact, a total lie..

    Otherwise.. A long “You Vill Eat Ze Bugs Seaweed And Like It.” puff piece.

  2. Certainly eaten seaweed in proper Chinese restaurants. (Gerrard Street – not those ghastly places in suburban high streets) Quite tasty. Although you can never be sure they’ve not faked it with deep-fried cabbage.

  3. @BiS: “seaweed” in Chinese restaurants is some variety of brassica, deep fried. If you want real seaweed, Japanese cooking is where to get it. Nori wrapped maki or onigiri, or dashi (stock) made from kombu (kelp) and bonito flakes. My fishmonger also sells dulce and laver, which make nice side dishes for fish. All very tasty, but as adjuncts rather than the main bit.

  4. One guess about seaweed as fertiliser would be the amount of human labour that has to go into such a system…….
    Yes, but you could apply that to arable farming on land. Think of the labour required to harvest a hay crop by hand. But we don’t actually do that with land agriculture, do we? We’d still have 95% of the population farming. Haven’t for centuries. Maybe it’s just that no-ones got round to devise mechanical harvesting machinery for seaweed. There hasn’t been a need for it

  5. Actually, this is fun. It isn’t very hard to imagine some sort of vessel you could run over kelp beds, cutting & baling the stuff. Woo realised! At which point you’d have the other half of the woo merchants, the ecologists & the Wave the Sales mob screaming blue murder.

  6. Interesting bis. Do we rely on land agriculture because it’s more easily mechanised, or has it been mechanised because we rely on it?

    I’d be happy for someone else to spend THEIR money to sort that one out.

  7. Wouldn’t the salt on/in it ruin the soil? Did they lug it out of the sea and leave it above high tide for the rain to wash clean?

  8. Falkland Islanders are called “Kelpers” not sure what they do now with all thse squaddies running about the place and Mars Bars being flown in on Globemasters.

  9. ‘ One guess about seaweed as fertiliser would be the amount of human labour that has to go into such a system…….’

    And quantity and availability. We cannot control its growth, quantity and make it continuously available. The same problem with wind and sunshine, we get the product of nature when the gods of nature decide. It is why we stopped hunter/gathering, nomadic life and started farming and static life. Oddly natural variability is something that people ‘in tune’ with ‘the’ environment and nature struggle with.

    Jersey Royals, I can attest, no longer taste the same. Reason: what government them their distinctive taste was the seaweed fertiliser used to grow them. As demand grew, not enough sea weed, so regular fertiliser used instead. Hence they don’t taste the same.

  10. “Why are they the old ways, why were they abandoned?”

    Because like windmills, the old ways were inferior…

    @BiS “It isn’t very hard to imagine some sort of vessel you could run over kelp beds, cutting & baling the stuff”

    One that (hopefully) doesn’t obliterate any undersea pipelines or cables…

  11. JohnB
    “We cannot control its growth, quantity and make it continuously available”
    I bet we could if minds were set to the task. Not mine, of course.

  12. Dunno, I’m no expert.
    But the reason for the disappearance of kelp forests was over harvesting, and no one knew how to replant. Now they do.
    Salting the land may be an issue but not a decisive one. Salt is very soluble and will leach out of the soil quite quickly. It’s how the oceans got saltier over billions of years, after all.

    So yeah, some sort of underwater mower and overwater baler could be economic. After you, bloke in spain.

  13. So yeah, some sort of underwater mower and overwater baler could be economic. After you, bloke in spain.

    Don’t forget the machine to separate out bits of dolphin and seal that you’ve also mowed.

  14. Looking back up the thread:
    Arthur the Cat
    @BiS: “seaweed” in Chinese restaurants is some variety of brassica, deep fried. If you want real seaweed,

    I did very specifically mention Gerard Street (Or Lisle St) Chinese restaurants. Preferably upstairs. The sort of places serve food in bowls not on plates with chop-sticks, no option. Inhabited almost entirely by Chinese. I wouldn’t eat the sort of muck they serve in a Chinky if they paid me.
    We have a lot of Chinese here & a little Chinese supermarket round the corner services their needs. They sell dried seaweed. And it is indeed seaweed.

    I wonder if it would be worth harvesting the Sargasso Sea? Might come up with some of those planes & aircraft mythically supposed to have vanished in the area.

    And peripherally, those thousands of square miles of floating plastic ecologists are always telling us is such a disaster. Plastic. Prewashed. Feedstock for all manner of things. Or burning for energy production. Good as oil. Harvesting that would be a no-brainer. If it exists

  15. The above few lines were of course entirely tongue in cheek. The moment you started to reverse any “ecological disaster” & profited by doing so, you would die under the avalanche of ecologists’ toys being thrown out of their prams.

  16. “One guess about seaweed as fertiliser would be the amount of human labour that has to go into such a system…….”

    So, let’s assume they near fully automate the growing and harvesting. What do we have? Well, a factory full of (nanotech) machines turning atmospheric nitrogen into fertilizer.

    And then what is it’s advantage versus the already existing near fully automated fertilizer factories?

    Both are using atomic manipulation to fix atmospheric nitrogen.

    One is just doing it really fast, in a compact space, the other slowly while using lots of surface area.

    I would be willing to bet the energy inputs are similar too (per unit of output) – just the chemical plant needs that energy in a much shorter timeframe.

    They’ll spend a lot of time and human thought power to genetically engineer the seaweed to produce fertilizer faster and faster and more and more in the same space – all to end up where the chemical plant already is.

  17. I recall reading that one of the reasons the islanders of St Kilda (off Scotland) were evacuated to the mainland in the 30s was crop failures – caused by heavy metals accumulating in the soil from the seaweed they were using as fertiliser.

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