An automated harvester of collecting algal mat or “lab-lab” has been developed to ensure year-round use of a cost-competitive aquafeed from lab-lab for fish feed production, the Philippine Council for Agriculture, Aquatic, and Natural Resources Research and Development (PCAARRD) of the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) has announced.
“Year-round use of lab-lab for fish feed production is now possible through an intelligent and automated harvester in the country that is government-funded. It is first of its kind,” it said in a statement.
The council noted that lab-lab is an excellent source of organic nutrition and is used as natural feeds for milkfish.
It is a combination of complex microscopic plants usually found at the bottom of fish ponds, it added.
“Poor water conditions, overgrazing, and inclement weather conditions in the country make lab-lab unavailable for year-round cultivation and utilization. To address this, the Collaborative Research and Development to Leverage Philippine Economy (CRADLE) grant of the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) funded the project, “Development of a Cost-Competitive Aquafeed from Lab-lab”,” the DOST-PCAARRD said.
It said the newly developed automated lab-lab harvester is capable of collecting lab-lab at any time of the day as long as it is available.
“According to the project, 153 grams of lab-lab can be harvested from a 15 feet x 25 feet area using the automated harvester in only five minutes and it requires only one person to operate. This is in comparison to a 30-minute manual harvesting of 400 grams of lab-lab in the same area size that would require five persons,” the council said.
The project is monitored by DOST-PCAARRD and implemented by De La Salle University, Center for Engineering and Sustainable Development Research (DLSU-CESDR) in partnership with Santeh Feeds Corporation.
DLSU noted that with the implementation of the project, farmers were given the opportunity to use lab-lab as a year-round natural source for milkfish feeds.
Under the project, a lab-lab solar dryer that provides a drying technology option for farmers to use after harvest was also developed and tested.