Exploring the potential of seaweed
AgriSea NZ Seaweed Ltd is just completing a research trial into the company’s bioactive products and the nutritional needs of honey bees with results due in July.
The trial was part funded by a $74,000 grant from Callaghan Innovation and is being conducted by Plant & Food Research’s bee unit and a team of scientists from University of Auckland.
AgriSea NZ Seaweed general manager, Tane Bradley, says samples are being analysed.
He hopes the research will provide scientiﬁc evidence to back up anecdotal evidence the company has been receiving around the effectiveness of its products on bee operations.
“Our bee nutrition product is one of our most recent innovations and it is giving huge beneﬁts to our bee keepers both here in New Zealand and internationally.
“To date there is limited scientiﬁc data around the nutritional needs of the honey bee so this is really important research as honey bees are vital to the New Zealand primary industries and the economy,” he says.
AgriSea NZ Seaweed is an award winning, sustainable, family owned and managed New Zealand company specialising in the manufacture of organically certiﬁ ed macro-algae concentrates and bioactive extractions to add high value nutrition for soil, plant, animal and human health.
Based in Paeroa, AgriSea supplies to the horticulture, agriculture, apiculture, viticulture and dairy sectors both domestically and to a growing export market.
The company’s Bee Nutritional range contains all 10 of the essential amino acids along with a complex natural array of vitamins and minerals.
AgriSea NZ Seaweed brews with essential herbs for up to 90 days and provides it in a form that can be easily consumed by honey bees.
Tane says that feedback from customers has indicated that the products have helped to improve bee health and disease resistance, honey production and bee population.
AgriSea NZ Seaweed was started in 1996 by Tane’s mother Jill Bradley and his stepfather Keith Atwood.
Both teachers by trade, it was a stint wooﬁng on a farm that got the pair interested in the possibilities of seaweed to assist soil, plant and animal health. Seeing there was no such commercial product on the market the pair set about developing one.
Today AgriSea NZ Seaweed employs 32 staff and has formed a relationship with the Paciﬁc Coast Technical Institute, which sees bee keeping students gaining practical knowledge and skills at AgriSea’s head ofﬁce complex that is presently home to 28 bee hives.
Tane says it is also a good vehicle by which to train staff resulting in a win-win situation.
He says that a few years ago AgriSea NZ Seaweed only had a handful of bee keeping clients, however since the release of its bee nutrition product they now have hundreds of clients including some of New Zealand’s best commercial operators and it is the company’s third biggest market. Company sales have increased 20 per cent over the past year.
The company has also recently launched several new products including seaweed infused salt blocks and a range of slow release biostimulant granules that can be incorporated into base fertilisers for farmers.
It also sells a range of cosmetics sold under the brand Ocean Organics.
Tane says the company continues to place high importance on research and development and is presently funding a PhD student to complete research into the effects of their products for ruminant nutrition and performance.