Wetenschap - 2 juni 2010

Minister opens Zealand Sole test farm

Experimental farm the Zealand Sole in Colijnsplaat in Zeeland was opened by Minister Gerda Verburg on 1 June. This new test farm aims to carry out land-based production of sea soles, ragworms, molluscs, algae and saline crops in harmony with saline nature.

We are going to breed sea soles in ponds', says Willem Brandenburg of Plant Research International. This will be done together with Jan Ketalaars, founder of the Zealand Sole Project. 'We will feed the soles with ragworms found in the soil instead of fish feed. We will use the manure in the fish ponds to grow algae, which in turn serves as a source of food for the molluscs. The remaining nutrients will be taken up by seaweed or saline crops. Water from the Eastern Scheldt will be brought into the farm and the water that leaves will be just as clean as when it enters the farm. The only additions to the test farm will be young soles and ragworms; other than these, the production system will be a closed one.
Research
From Wageningen UR, Plant Research International and Imares will be doing research in the test farm. The farm's aim is to make land-based mariculture in Zealand economically viable, ecologically sustainable and socially acceptable, says Brandenburg. The development of the test farm cost fifteen million euros. Six million was spent on research, while nine million was spent on infrastructure, information dissemination and education. Besides the Province of Zealand, the Ministry of Agriculture, Nature & Food Quality and the European Fishery Funds, the test farm is also financed by the Zealand private sector.
During the opening ceremony, the minister released the first young soles and ragworms into the breeding pond in the farm.

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