Stewart Materials Invests in Florida Aquaculture Research | Donates Sand to Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute

Stewart Materials today announced it has successfully supplied seven tons of materials to Florida Atlantic University’s  (‘FAU”) Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute. Researchers from FAU recently completed a 10-week study to determine the optimal growing conditions of sea asparagus, saltwort, and sea purslane—three species of sea vegetables being grown in Stewart Materials-supplied sand as a potential crop for human consumption. Considered a vegetable, herb or an edible garnish, they are found in the salt marshes and thrive in saltwater with the right balance of nutrients. 

Stewart Materials worked with Florida Atlantic Aquaculture & Stock Enhancement Research Professor Megan Davis to donate double washed silicate sand to the study.  “We needed a reliable, Florida-based source of sand, free of residues, pesticides, heavy metals and fertilizers,” Davis said. “Stewart Materials made it happen. They were reassuring and responsive, and the sand arrived quickly. It was amazing. We didn’t have to do anything to it; we used it just as it came to us.” 

Davis and her team set up 168 experimental containers in which to identify the optimal growth criteria for the plants. “Everything we’re learning will be shared with future producers to assist them with system technology and product development,” she said. “It’s great to know there is a commercial source of sand in Stewart Materials that we can point people to as they generate a new aquaculture industry in Florida.”

Sea vegetable planters. Photo courtesy of Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute

To learn more about the study, part of FAU’s Integrated Multi-Trophic Aquaculture system project to optimize sustainability and aquaculture production, visit fau.edu/hboi/aquaculture

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