Seafood waste a versatile tonic for crops, says former Moulton research head

Shrimp heads - image:Phu Thinh Co
Shrimp heads - image:Phu Thinh Co

The chitin-rich waste parts of seafood can bring a range of benefits to horticultural and agricultural crops, according to a review paper by former Moulton College research coordinator Dr Russell Sharp.

"Chitin and its derivatives have been repeatedly shown to protect crops from pests, pathogens and physiological disorders," he wrote in the paper, published in the journal Agronomy.

"Their action in stimulating beneficial microbes has proved particularly impressive, with chitin/chitosan amplifying their effect in controlling pathogens, promoting plant growth and remediating soil pollutants."

Between two and three million tonnes of waste from crustaceans are generated each year by the global seafood industry, Sharp estimated.

"The effectiveness of chitin-based treatments has been found to be comparable to those achieved with current synthetic pesticides and fertilizers," he went on.

"This effectiveness combined with the low cost, low concentration required, ample supply and health/environmental safety lead to a forecast that a range of chitin-based/augmented products will become a more common feature in agriculture in the near future."

The paper brings together findings from 230 papers published over the past 40 years.


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