New technology allows marine farmers to check crops remotely
New research could soon allow marine farmers to check their crops remotely, rather than go out into the water.
The research is part of a five-year project by the Nelson Cawthron Institute to develop smart technology for the aquaculture industry.
Cawthron’s chief science officer Chris Cornelisen says the technology will make life easier.
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“Well, farmers have to get on a boat and visit their farms. Our science and technology are bringing this farm to their desk.”
Part of the research is a float that when connected to a line of sensors shows the temperature of the water at various depths. The information is returned in real time.
Water temperature is especially important, as seafood often struggles at warmer temperatures.
Cawthron has also developed a machine that goes up and down a line of mussels and then sends video to a computer that allows farmers to see up close what the crop is like.
And in a global novelty, Cawthron has connected high-tech sensors directly to the mussels in the ocean.
Cawthron marine scientist Heni Unwin says sensor information can show what’s going on in the ocean.
“It’s measuring if a mussel is open, so it can tell you if it’s feeding, it can also tell you if a mussel has a natural rhythm pattern or if the mussel is closed for a very long period of time.”
Cawthron, the largest independent scientific organization in the country, has been doing research as part of the National Science Challenge.
Aquaculture has the potential to be a major source of income for New Zealand, as the government wants to bring it to a $ 3 billion industry by 2035. But climate change and global warming could pose some challenges. .
Cornelisen says gathering information is important to building the resilience of the industry.
“The data is of great importance and something they haven’t been collecting much and we’re enabling it.”
NIWA’s Niall Broekhuizen studies the environmental effects of aquaculture and says everyone involved is already looking for ways to mitigate potential future challenges.
Broekhuizen says better information will help make decisions.
“This gives options to the industry … which farms we should go out to visit right now because there is some evidence of a problem and which ones we can afford to leave for a few months because we are sure the crop is healthy.”
Although much of the research has been done on mussels, it could also be used in other seafood and even in salmon farming.
The Cawthron Institute research program ends in June and is expected to be rolled out worldwide.