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BARD 40 Year Review

Case Study 19: Marine Aquaculture Solid Waste Treatment

Principal Investigators: US: Kevin Sowers (University of Maryland); IS: Amit Gross (Ben Gurion University of the Negev)  

Goal: To develop an integrated aquaculture wastewater treatment system for simultaneous microbial reduction of sludge mass, nitrate/nitrite removal, and biomethane production from varying organic loads throughout the fish growth cycle.

Activities: Laboratory studies to identify a marine methanogenic consortium and system factors influencing methanogenic activity.
Upscaling of laboratory reactors to a semi-commercial marine and brackish recirculating system with integrated modified large volume USAB (Upflow Anaerobic Sludge Blanket) bioreactors fed with saline sludge.

Outcomes: Development of a system that leads to an overall reduction of organic saline waste at inland mariculture farms, generates energy, and consequently leads to an improved system efficiency and a reduction in operating costs. 

The first commercial application of a methanogenic consortium, developed by the US PI together with industry partners using the same principles developed in the BARD projects, was established at an inland salmon farm in Norway in 2018 to convert its salmon smolt solid waste into fuel-grade methane. 

Economic Benefit: Net Present Value of BARD’s investment is $28 million. The Internal Rate of Return is 31%. Benefit-Cost Ratio is 44, thereof 1 already attained. 

Capacity Building: 5 graduate students, 8 undergraduates and 1 high school student. 5 are currently in academia, of which 3 in the US, 1 in Israel and 1 in Armenia. Another 6 are in industry, of which 3 in the US and 3 in Israel.

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Case study 20: Integrated Robotic System for Stress Detection in Greenhouses

Principal Investigators: US: Shimon Nof (Purdue University), Yang Tao (University of Maryland); IS: Avital Bechar (Agricultural Research Organization, Volcani Center)   

Goal: To develop an effective and affordable high frequency and high resolution human robotic integrated (HRI) monitoring and inspection system to detect biotic and abiotic stress in greenhouse environments as soon as they emerge.

Activities: Determination of narrow spectral bands (at wavelengths greater than the visible spectrum) that identify crop disease upon emergence and as it develops (different signatures).
Development of deep-learning algorithms to successfully map the plants stress status. Development of mobile robotic system and arm to successfully navigate within crop rows and access all relevant plant elements (e.g. top and bottom foliage, stem, variable heights and depth).

Outcomes: A human integrated robotic system that will replace manual monitoring for greenhouse crop disease (at this stage including Powdery Mildew, Cucumber Green Mottle Mosaic Virus (CGMMV) and Tomato Spotted Wilt Virus (TSWW)) enabling high resolution, dynamic mapping of the crop area. Early detection will lead to improved crop management (by preventing uncontrolled spreading of stresses causing irreparable damage), support attainment of or exceedance of crop yields and quality targets, enable precise applications of pesticides, nutrients and water and mitigation of crop disease.

Economic Benefit: This unique HRI innovation is in early stages of development and we do not assign monetary value. 

Capacity Building: 3 graduate students and 1 postdoctoral researcher are currently involved in the research.

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