Duckweed Not Soybean Could Help Fight Hunger: UN Report
Duckweed, the world's fastest growing plant, with more proteins than soybeans, may be the answer to feed increasing world population, according a UN report co-authored by Pamela McElwee, Rutger human ecology professor. Rutgers has the world's largest collection of duckweed species and their strains.
The duckweed family includes 37 species from locales all over the world. They’re tiny aquatic plants that float on water, they’re easy to harvest and they can grow on wastewater. Some strains have very high protein levels – up to 30 or 40 percent by dry weight. As such, duckweed is more nutritious than salad alone, which has good fiber content and vitamins but not a lot of protein. Some duckweed strains provide nutritional benefits, while others are used in traditional folk medicine. As its name implies, duckweed is eaten by ducks — as well as other waterfowl and animals — and behaves much like a weed: it multiplies rapidly, especially on water rich with nutrients such as nitrogen and phosphate.
Duckweed tastes mild and has antoxidants, according to Eric Lam. The university lab has established vertical farming using hydroponics in vertical farming mode.The fastest-growing duckweed strain can produce about 20 grams (when dried) per square meter per day using our current prototype. That’s about 1.4 million pounds per hectare (2.47 acres) annually – 50 times what you get from corn.