Duckweed

Feed Industry Overview: Duckweed feed has been found to be a very nutritious feed source for many types of livestock. The fact that duckweed can be fed to animals in its wet form or dried for a more concentrated food source make an efficient, cost effective, harvester a possible attractive product for this market. Traditional Harvesters are economically unfeasible and manual harvesting is very labor intensive for medium to large scale operations. Feed prices can vary drastically due to crop yields, gas prices, and product demand.

After the initial investment of the Proskimmer the costs for producing this feed additive would be minimal. There is opportunity for duckweed to be used more as a feed source in coming years to alleviate increasing demand on corn and soy yields. Analysis According to North Carolina Reasearchers: “Duckweed holds great promise as an alternative feed supplement. One of the smallest plants known to man could help us produce cleaner water while at the same time providing a high quality feed for domestic stock animals (poultry, swine, and cattle).

The nutrient uptake ability possessed by duckweed along with its fast reproductive rate and environmental requirements make it easy to manage. The problem with duckweed is in the harvesting of the small plants and removing the excess water. Assuming that can be done efficiently, we will be well on our way to making new strides in the supplemental feeding of duckweed. ” These statements are made by some of the leading duckweed researchers in the feed/fuel/watstewater. A duckweed harvester is a natural fit to solve the harvesting needs of the market.

Recent studies have confirmed duckweed’s potential as a valuable high-protein, vitamin-rich feed supplement. A two acre pond surface with duckweed yields as much as 30 tons of dry matter or approximately 12 tons of protein per year. This protein is of very high quality for feeding to animals (or human beings). Experiments show that the quality of this protein for ducks and hens is similar to that in soybean meal. As protein is currently priced at approx $500 per ton as a stock-feed ingredient, the protein yield of a hectare of duckweed is worth in the order of $6,000 per year.

Although inexpensive to produce, duckweed contains a range of vitamins, pigments and minerals. These include those normally added to dietary formulations for livestock such as poultry and pigs in the form of commercial mineral-vitamin premixes. Duckweed has particular value as a poultry feed. It typically contains high concentrations of calcium (which is required in the diet of laying hens) equal to 10-25 g/kg dry matter. Duckweed contains relatively large amounts of xanthophylls and carotene, which result in a rich yellow/orange color to the egg yolks.

In comparison, the synthetic yolk pigments usually included in mineral-vitamin premixes for layers are a costly component of commercial poultry diets. Dried excess duckweed can be pelletised and sold as animal feed. At approx $6000 dollars the Proskimmer would be economically viable in this arena. Feeding trials reported in the literature and carried out recently in Peru have demonstrated that duckweed can be substituted for soy and fish meals in prepared rations for several types of poultry: broilers, layers, and chicks. Cultured duckweed can be used as the protein component in poultry diets.

Acceptable levels of duckweed meal in the diets of layers range up to 40 percent of total feed. Duckweed-fed layers produce more eggs of the same or higher quality as control birds fed the recommended formulated diets. Levels of up to 15 percent duckweed meal produce growth rates in broilers which are equal to those produced by control feeds. Diets for chicks, consisting of up to 15 percent duckweed meal, are suitable for birds under three weeks of age. Duckweed meal will almost certainly find as large a range of animal feed applications as soybean meal.

Duckweed meal may also have great potential to blend with non- conventional diets based on inexpensive carbohydrate sources that can be used by poultry and hogs. Today pork production offers perhaps an unprecedented opportunity. Due to economic expansion and population growth in Asia, demand for pork is increasing like never before. In fact, experts predict that in the next 35 to 40 years, we’ll have to quadruple, or more, the approximately 875 million hogs now on Earth. That’s why new and expanded hog production facilities are being built in Australia, Canada, Mexico, South America, and, when opposition is overcome, in the U.

S. And as they’re built, new jobs and economic growth are being created. A major limitation to fish farming is that meals high in protein with high biological value are expensive and often locally unavailable. Supplementary feeds can take up to 60% of fish production costs. Duckweeds have a high protein content (around 40%) of high biological value. Fresh duckweed is highly suited to intensive fish farming systems and duckweed is converted efficiently to liveweight by certain fish including carp and tilapia. Drying duckweed presents the largest current challenge to the plant being traded as a commodity.

No conventional drying technology has been able to produce dried material without incurring signifigant loss. Several solar methods are showing promise however we feel they would be for large scale operations and not relevant to our market. The leading researchers in North Carolina have paired with a company called Aeroglide who makes industrial drying technologies for the feed industry. We feel Proskim should focus on the wet applications for land livestock and fish farming opporunities. http://www. lib. ncsu. edu/theses/available/etd-05242004-103543/unrestricted/etd. df Institute of Animal Nutrition, University of Hohenheim, Emil-Wolff-Str. 10, 70593 Stuttgart, Germany 24 February 2010; http://www. aeroglide. com/aquafeed-dryers-coolers. php SWOT Analysis Feed: Strengths: Low cost in relation to other mechanical harvesters/low labor intensity when compared to manual techniques. Currently manufactured product with little to no customization for many harvesting needs. Duckweed has been proven to be a breakthrough feed alternative to corn and soy based feeds. Weaknesses: Little to no current marketing strategy in the Bio arena. Lack of marketing material directed to Bio arena.

Less developed nations will use manual techniques. Company physical location is not in areas which promote rapid duckweed growth. Opportunities: Feed supplement for fish, swine, poultry needing effective harvesting techniques. Market directly to these farmers. Academic researchers using grants to study duckweed in the Bio arena. Government grants and foundations in the Bio arena. Threats: Other harvester inventions and trial inventions to harvest duckweed. Less demand for corn ethanol due to regulations or opportunity costs could lower prices and in turn corn feed prices.

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