Spirulina is a microalga consumed for millennia because of its nutritional properties. Nowadays, it is used as a healthy and effective dietary supplement. Spirulina cultivation also has less known environmental and environmental benefits. Can it be used to clean up?
Spirulina cultivation: ecological and environmental benefits
Spirulina is part of cyanobacteria or blue algae. These organisms have contributed to the oxygen enrichment of the original atmosphere of the earth. They have also contributed to the formation of ozone that protects against harmful ultraviolet (UV) radiation from the sun. This microscopic alga is therefore ideal for:
- Produce oxygen and capture CO2;
- Preserve the soil;
- To preserve the environment.
Spirulina produces oxygen
On the principle of photosynthesis, trees capture carbon dioxide (CO2) and release oxygen. It is estimated that a tree can set between 1 and 4 tonnes of CO2 per year per hectare. Spirulina, which is generally used as a sports food supplement, is able to do better. Spirulina also contains chlorophyll and produces 16.8 tons of oxygen per hectare per year. At the same time, it can capture 23 to 40 tons of CO2.
Today, the pollution rate in cities is alarming. According to statistics, air pollution is responsible for the deaths of more than 3 million people each year. Less than 12% of the world’s population would breathe healthy air. Fine particles and atmospheric pollutants are at the root of several ills, among which we can mention:
- Heart disease;
The rate of oxygen in the atmosphere keeps decreasing. It has dropped 0.7% on average over the past 800,000 years, according to studies. On the other hand, CO2 levels are increasing. In a polluted environment, trees provide a barrier to filter the air. Thanks to their leaves, they can hold up to 20 kg of dust. That’s why most ecological and environmental organizations recommend planting trees. However, spirulina is more effective than a tree. Spirulina culture offers solutions in the fight against pollution. Oxygen is an essential element for any form of life. Large spirulina cultures should help to rebalance the oxygen and CO2 levels on the planet. In addition, it has the capacity to absorb toxins, heavy metals and many elements present in its environment.
Spirulina is one of the first living creatures to appear on Earth billions of years ago. Its properties have helped to promote the appearance of life.
Spirulina preserves the soil
The cultivation of spirulina has several advantages:
- It offers an excellent yield of proteins;
- It requires little water;
- It does not require the use of fertile soils.
Spirulina has a high vegetable protein content, about 60% of its dry weight. On one hectare, it produces 20 times more protein than soy, 40 times more than corn or wheat. Its protein production is 200 times stronger than for beef. The cultivation of Spirulina requires a small volume of water. For example, to produce 1 kg of protein, spirulina consumes 4 times less water than soy. The quantity of water is 6 times less than for corn or wheat. It is 50 times lower than for beef.
Spirulina cultivation does not require the use of pesticides, fungicides or herbicides. It does not require the use of fertile soils either. It can be grown on unproductive land and in pools a few centimeters deep (aquaculture). It is estimated that the production of one kilogram of wheat protein led to the destruction of 22 kg of fertile soils. And, for 1 kg of beef protein, about 145 kilograms of soil are destroyed. The arable land is scarce. Therefore, spirulina cultivation is ideal because it does not cause soil erosion. In addition, it uses fewer surfaces for an excellent performance.
Spirulina preserves the environment
Agriculture contributes greatly to the destruction of natural resources. The cultivation of spirulina makes it possible to fight against:
- Pollution and contamination of water;
- Overconsumption of water;
- Soil erosion;
Inputs such as plant protection products and fertilizers have adverse effects. They can contaminate runoff and affect humans and other species. According to official figures, 95% of herbicides reach a destination other than their targets. In addition, the costs of researching inputs and the consequences of their use are enormous. However, growing spirulina does not require the use of chemicals. Spirulina grows well in sunny and arid areas.
The destruction of forests remains a major problem today. Classical agriculture is one of the main causes of this phenomenon. An estimated 300 million people live in and around forests. More than 1.6 billion people depend to varying degrees on forests to live. The cultivation of spirulina uses few surfaces without destroying the soil. In addition, spirulina is an excellent producer of oxygen. Large-scale production could, therefore, improve the quality of the air on the planet. But, large-scale crops could also promote optimal reforestation.
Spirulina, production and environmental cost
The production of spirulina generates almost no environmental cost. Ecological and simple, it is respectful of the environment. The production is done in greenhouses or in pools a few centimeters deep (aquaculture). When produced in a greenhouse, water heated to 37 degrees Celsius is required and brewed regularly. Organic Spirulina can be grown using natural products such as:
- The laundry of ashes;
- The nitrate of Chile;
- Magnesium sulfate.
These natural products are ecological and economical. The ash liquor is obtained by adding water to the ash. The resulting laundry is kept indefinitely. Chilean nitrate is a mineral fertilizer that is extracted from the subsoil. Commonly called anhydrous Epsom salt or bitter salt, magnesium sulfate exists in nature.
Compared to other cultures, Spirulina requires less energy for its production:
- 2 times less than corn or wheat;
- 5 times less than soy;
- 100 times less than the be.
In some countries, many spirulina farms have been established because of the benefits of this alga. The ease of production and the little surface required are also ideal for the cultivation of this seaweed.
Spirulina and malnutrition
Malnutrition kills more than 11 million children worldwide each year. Spirulina can be used to fight this plague. The UN considers this microscopic alga as ” the best food of the future “. Not only does it produce healthy and abundant food, but spirulina is also a source:
- Of iron ;
- Essential fatty acids.
Spirulina contains beta-carotene or provitamin A. It is a powerful antioxidant that protects the body against oxidative stress. In other words, the antioxidant protects cells against free radicals. 1 g of spirulina can provide enough vitamin A, B12, and manganese. With 10 g it is possible to fill the body with iron and phosphorus. Essential fatty acids are essential to the body. The latter does not know how to make them naturally.
But where does Spirulina come from?
Spirulina has been on Earth for over 3.5 billion years. It has a spiral shape and is able to synthesize the energy of the sun. This microscopic alga multiplies by cell division in the manner of bacteria. Moreover, it owes its survival to this mode of multiplication.
The properties of Spirulina have been known for millennia. In South America, the Aztecs used it as a natural dope for runners. These had to supply the palate with fresh fish. Harvested in Lake Texcoco, the seaweed was nicknamed “Tecuitlatl”.
In Africa, in northern Lake Chad, a local population (the Kanembou) also consume this alga. For centuries, she harvests spirulina present in natural pools. Then she dries it in the sun, creating pancakes called “die”.
What to remember? Spirulina is a superfood rich in beneficial nutrients. It can be used in the fight against malnutrition. It can also play a major role in the fight against pollution.