History of Kelp

Posted By: Mike Gorbov In: Kelps On: Comment: 0 Hit: 525

Seaweed has been used widely in agriculture for centuries. Earliest use dates back over 2000 years ago as remnants of seaweed has coated the coast of the Pacific and Atlantic shores.

Seaweed has been used widely in agriculture for centuries. Earliest use dates back over 2000 years ago as remnants of seaweed has coated the coast of the Pacific and Atlantic shores. Humans have sought out this substance to till into the soil for enhanced fertility and growth promotion in crop production. As the industrial age moved in through the early 1900's, refinement of seaweed was sought after and the first commercial process was created; taking seaweed and drying the algae into fine particles called "meal". This provided farmers the ability to more effectively and efficiently deliver the seaweed into their soils.

Extraction processes continued and started revolutionizing agriculture throughout the world. One of which was water-soluble seaweed products. Chemical agents were being used widely in the Industrial Era and certain chemicals like sodium hydroxide (NaOH) and potassium hydroxide (KOH) were found to dissolve fibrous compounds like the tissue of seaweed. This allowed chemists to dissolve the algae body and strip away the fibrous matter to collect the essence of seaweed through an additional process of filtration, mechanical pressing, and drying if need be into a dissolvable kelp powder. This process produced one of the first fully soluble seaweed extract, giving birth to one of the first commercially viable seaweed products.

However, it wasn't until chemical analytical equipment was developed in the late 20th century that we realized the role chemical extractions played on the composition of seaweed. Chemical extractions utilizing liquid nitrogen (NO2) or potassium hydroxide (KOH) ruptures the cellular membrane of the algae (kelp) and quickly degrades many volatile organic compounds responsible for promoting plant growth. These compounds lack resistance to chemical degradation and lose all benefit to plants once exposed to harsh chemicals. Thus, the cold-pressed mechanical extraction process became the commercial evolution of seaweed extraction, extracting the precious organic compounds and minerals without causing any chemical degradation. This method is seen to be the best method of extracting kelp as it preserves the growth-promoting abilities of seaweed and produces a NPK neutral product.

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