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Integrated on-farm Aquaponics systems for co-production of fish, halophyte vegetables, bioactive compounds, and bioenergy

Project description

Aquaponics for vegetable and fish production

Fresh water shortages and salinisation processes in farmland increase concerns related to food security. Farmers are seeking salt-tolerant solutions as well as synergies for better results. Aquaponics could be a viable proposal. Salicornia Europaea, a salt-tolerant plant that grows in saline farmlands, is farmed and commercialised in the EU. Except for the fresh tips and some parts of the woody stem, about 80 % of the harvest is wasted as the salt content makes it unsuitable as a fertiliser. The EU-funded AQUACOMBINE project proposes a new approach to valorise the woody residue of Salicornia for biochemicals and bioenergy production. The project will also investigate the use of aquaponics to optimally use all Salicornia fractions to create nutrient-rich fish feeds.


One of the most important challenges of the 21st century is to meet the world's demand for sustainably produced biomass for both food and the growing bio-products sector. Increased use of fresh water for agriculture and loss of farmland due to salinity are related concerns. Salicornia europaea (S. europaea) is grown commercially in the EU for its fresh tips, which are edible as salad (marsh samphire). It is a halophyte plant and can grow on saline lands without requiring freshwater for irrigation. When grown as a vegetable only the fresh tips are used while the woody part of the plant is considered a residue. Today, European farmers are using part of the fibrous residue for soil amendment and drying the fibers to produce herbal salt. However, the amount of residue to food product is large (approximately 80%) and the salt content of the residue is a problem when used for soil amendment, as it returns the salt to the soil. There is a great wish from Salicornia farmers to increase the value of this fraction in line with the principles of circular economy. The woody residue part of Salicornia has been investigated as a source of pharma- and nutraceutical products due to its high content of phytochemicals e.g. hydroxycinnamic acids (HCA). To help increase Salicornia farming there is a wish to valorize these residues via biochemicals and bioenergy production. The project will also examine the combination of aquaculture and Salicornia farming creating synergies such as formulation and test of phyto-chemicals rich functional fish feed and formulation and test of protein and lipids rich fish feed. The outcomes of this study will enable Salicornia farmers and aquaponics farms to utilize all fractions of the produced biomass and produce value added HCAs, functional fish feed, and bioenergy. This will create new circular industries with co-production of food, pharma, and bioenergy from this new sustainable type of crop with very little or no production of waste streams.

Call for proposal


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Sub call



Net EU contribution
€ 2 801 605,50
9220 Aalborg

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Danmark Nordjylland Nordjylland
Activity type
Higher or Secondary Education Establishments
Total cost
€ 2 801 605,50

Participants (17)