Officials from the Town of Huntington recently celebrated the success of a pilot program to grow sugar kelp, which removes nitrogen from coastal waters and is used as a natural fertilizer.
The sugar kelp program was assisted by Captain Mitch Kramer from TowBoatUS and the donation of the kelp seed from Wendy Moore, executive director and founder of Lazy Point Farms. Seeded kelp lines were deployed in December near the mouth of Cold Spring Harbor between four mooring buoys far removed from boating traffic.
As sugar kelp doesn’t grow in the warmer months, once the water temperature hit 55 degrees, the first harvest took place on April 25 and the total weight of the wet kelp was 250 pounds.
The harvested sugar kelp was then dried, processed into powder form, bagged, and shared with resident gardeners. Groundskeepers at several town parks and the two town golf courses will be using the remaining kelp to apply to the grounds as fertilizer.
Kelp is known for its value as a soil amendment and reduces the need for synthetic fertilizers. Containing nitrogen, phosphorus, and potash, it releases those nutrients and a suite of micronutrients slowly into the soil. Sugar kelp is known to increase soil moisture retention and stimulate root growth for a variety of plants.
The town plans to expand the project in the fall and into the spring of next year with many more additional kelp lines in bays and harbors.