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UF researchers are studying whether sargassum seaweed can be composted

University of Florida researchers want to see if sargassum seaweed that lines the coast can be used for landscaping in the state.

Researchers hope to use composted sargassum seaweed for landscaping, but they are working to find out if it is safe and possible first.

“It is an algae, so it has a lot of nutrients that can be beneficial to soil,” said Armando Ubeda, a researcher in Sarasota with the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences. “The reason we’re doing the study is because there’s some concern that sargassum can have heavy metals in it like arsenic.”

If it works, it could benefit the environment. Once the study is finished and the final report ready, researchers say they will share results with a handful of Florida communities, including Collier and Sarasota counties. Collier county said it’s interested in the study and hopes to see if the same method could be used for red drift algae, which can wash up in our area.

As far as the seaweed goes, tourists don’t like it, Ubeda said.

“It can start decomposing, start smelling bad,” Ubeda said.

Thrifty Garden owner Richard Molek likes to stay in the know when it comes to new composting ideas.

“Composting is an easy way to replace what we’re taking out of the earth,” Molek said.

Molek said if the search shows it works, it could be a win-win situation.

“If it proves out to be safe and effective, absolutely excited about that,” Molek said.

Reporter:Stephanie Byrne
Writer:Melissa Montoya
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