The growth of seaweed benefits the town’s bays and harbours.
In late fall of 2022, the Town of Huntington launched a pilot program to grow sugar kelp. Sugar kelp is a type of seaweed native to Long Island that requires little effort to grow in Long Island’s bays and harbors. benefit? It helps improve water quality by removing harmful nitrogen that causes algae blooms and also acts as a natural fertilizer.
Coordinated by the Huntington Township Maritime Department, planning for the Sugar Kelp Program is divided into two parts;
reduce harmful nitrogen in our waterways and provide healthier alternatives to fortified urban landscapes, and
Reduce the need for synthetic fertilizers in town parks and golf courses by applying homegrown kelp.
Town’s results are fantastic! With the help of TowBoatUS Captain Mitch Kramer, and a donation of kelp seeds from Ms. Wendy Moore, Executive Director and Founder of Lazy Point Farms (www.lazypointfarms.org), the sown kelp line was deployed in December near the mouth of the Cold Spring Harbor on 4 between two mooring buoys, away from boating traffic. The Town of Huntington is now officially a kelp farmer!
The growth timeline for sugar kelp is not only inspiring, but amazing. After more than a month, seedlings began to grow on the kelp line. On the second visit, the kelp was growing healthily from the rope. Each visit provides bigger and bigger results until piles of kelp can be seen, extending up to 5 feet below the line.
Since Sugar Kelp doesn’t grow during the warmer months, the first Sugar Kelp harvest occurs on April 25, ahead of boating season, once water temperatures hit 55 degrees. The total weight of the wet kelp was 250 lbs from just two 100-foot lines.
Once dried, the sugar kelp was processed into a powder, bagged, and shared with eager resident gardeners who were excited to try out the new fertilizer on their own plants! Groundskeepers at several town parks and two town golf courses will use the remaining kelp as fertilizer to apply to the fields.
“The Sugar Kelp project has been a tremendous success,” said Huntington Township Supervisor Ed Smith. “We were able to create end-to-end green solutions to multiple problems at the same time. The Town of Huntington plans to expand this program in Fall 2023 and Spring 2024, adding more kelp lines in all town bays and harbors.”
Kelp is known for its value as a soil conditioner. It contains the nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium of regular fertilizers, but in healthier concentrations. As an organic fertilizer, it slowly releases these nutrients and a range of micronutrients into the soil. Sugar kelp is known to increase soil moisture retention and stimulate root growth in various plants. Using kelp can help reduce the need for synthetic fertilizers.