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Carbon and Nutrient Resource Recovery Throughout Food Production for Sustainable Agriculture Driven by a More Circular Value Chain

Remove, recover, redistribute nutrient pollutants N and P plus CO2 emissions from waste to cultivate microalgae for food, feed, fertilizer.

Photo of Ed Weinberg
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Written by

Lead Applicant Organization Name

ESSRE Consulting, Inc.

Lead Applicant Organization Type

  • Small company (under 50 employees)

If part of a multi-stakeholder entity (i.e. team), provide the names of other organizations and types of stakeholders collaborating with you.

HY-TEK Bio, LLC; Delaware State University; Drexel University; Michigan State University; U of Maryland; US Fish & Wildlife Service

Website of Legally Registered Entity

How long have you / your team been working on this Vision?

  • 1-3 years

Lead Applicant: In what city or town are you located?

Richboro, PA

Lead Applicant: In what country are you located?

United States of America

Your Selected Place: what’s the name of the Place you’re developing a Vision for?

Owasco Lake, NY subwatershed drainage area <100,000 km2

What country is your selected Place located in?

United States of America

Describe your relationship to the place you’ve selected.

I was born and raised in New York State and remember pristine Finger Lakes including the subject place, Lake Owasco, as an excellent summer vacation retreat.  This is no longer the case as the lake and several others throughout the state and the country suffer from Harmful Algal Blooms (HABs).  Nutrient overloads, specifically pollutant Phosphorus contributes to the ever increasing frequency, intensity and scope of these blooms, which cause irrevocable harm, economic depression and degraded recreational and industrial value including lowering property values. Warmer temperatures as a result of global climate change also contribute to HABs formation.  The proposed concept to recover and recycle pollutant nutrients and carbon (CO2) will over time will help reverse this trend and restore Owasco Lake to its original pristine beauty.

Describe the People and Place: Provide information that would be helpful for an outsider who has never been there and may have no context about this Place to better understand the area.

Lake Owasco is the most significant geographic feature of the selected region.  The lake contains approx. 220 billion gallons of water; is 17.9 km long with a max. width of 2.1 km;  and approx. 43.4 km of shoreline. Its best uses by NYS rule are:  drinking water, culinary or food processing, recreation and fishing.  Lake Owasco and its tributaries harbor 49 species of cold or warm water species.  Several species are important recreationally and may be taken for consumption, including but not limited to: atlantic salmon, trout, bass, perch, bullhead, panfish and pike.

The region is well known for its apples and grapes, as the predominant crops along with numerous, small dairy farms, as the predominant livestock.

The largest city on the lake is Auburn, NY and to the north of the lake is the metropolis of Rochester, NY.

However, in spite of its strengths in agriculture and lake attributes about 14% of the regional population live below poverty standards.

What is the approximate size of your Place, in square kilometers? (New question, not required)


What is the estimated population (current 2020) in your Place?


Challenges: Describe the current (2020) and the future (2050) challenges that your food system faces.

Food production to feed the anticipated world population growth in the upcoming decades will place tremendous stress on the global Carbon (C) and nutrient cycles.  The deployment of ESSRE’s futuristic food system vision of C, Nitrogen (N) and Phosphorus (P) removal/recovery solutions described herein are globally significant because each will relieve several UN Planetary Boundaries that are already beyond a critical threshold: climate change, aforementioned N and P cycles, biodiversity loss, ocean acidification, and water scarcity.  See images attached.

Address the Challenges: Describe how your Vision will address the challenges described in the previous question.

The greatest challenge is the development, commercialization and acceptance of ESSRE's innovative technologies for C, N and P recovery, reuse and redistribution in the shortest time possible for a more sustainable food future.  The recycle, reuse, and redistribution of the C, N or P byproducts from food production will need to be evaluated for both market and consumer acceptance by growers, producers, processors, environmental advocates, conservationists, and sustainability champions. Such a diverse set of stakeholders will be a greater challenger than the technological innovations that make the ESSRE food vision possible. Intense collaboration will be needed to move forward in this direction.

Lastly, ESSRE's food system of the future addresses global issues, and thus, focusing on one manageable region, Owasco Lake watershed, is the smartest way to handle this huge "elephant" of a problem:  one bite at a time.

High Level Vision: With these challenges addressed, now provide a high level description of how the Place and the lives of its People will be different than they are now.

The net outcomes of ESSRE's visionary food systems, as described herein, include:  

• Enhanced water and air quality,

• Enhanced aquatic biodiversity, i.e. the mitigation of harmful algal blooms (HABs) and the reduction of wild fish forage consumption by large-scale fish farming (in the case of aquaculture)

• Reduced GHG emissions

• Avoidance of synthetic fertilizers

• Enhanced food security via  better conservation of natural resources, production and improved economics sustainable food supply chain

• Advanced production of the next cycle of “cash” crops:  microalgae, cannabis and hemp,

• Promotion of a more circular food value chain driven by pollutant C, N and P recovery, reuse, redistribution

Full Vision: How do you describe your Vision for a regenerative and nourishing food future for your Place and People for 2050?

Our vision of future food production chains is a fully integrated one. The recycled, reused C, N or P byproducts from food production will need to be evaluated for both market and consumer acceptance by growers, producers, processors, environmental advocates, conservationists, and sustainability champions. This extensive list of stakeholders forces the integration of producers, communities, and government agencies to work together for a more secure and sustainable food future.  Moreover, the  C, N and P recovery/reuse solutions are applicable to the specific region's major food production -  apples, grapes and dairy - but it is universally applicable to any food supply chain.  Some of the images and attachments illustrate the ESSRE vision applied to aquaculture, poultry, vegetables, grains, etc.

In regards to Carbon Capture and Utilization,  cultivating microalgae to "fix" CO2 emissions for harvest and ultimately land application for carbon sequestration in soil is considered "futuristic", advanced regenerative agriculture.  The algal biomass will be an excellent soil amendment for C sequestration and soil moisture holding capacity and concurrently will remove metric tonnes of CO2 from the atmosphere to reverse the trend of global climate change.

This new regenerative agriculture can help food security needs in 2030, 2040, and 2050 by making non-arable lands arable for greater food production.  In addition, the future vision of a circular food production chain, which recovers, reuses and redistributes pollutant N and P, provides new food and feed products of great value based on algae extracts.

How did you hear about the Food System Vision Prize?

  • Twitter

Attachments (1)

2019 ESSRE Grow NY Presentation GB WWTPs added.PPTX

ESSRE Food System presentation for the Finger Lakes Grow-NY region (minus Carbon Capture Reuse via Microalgae).


Join the conversation:

Photo of Yunus Abubakar

friendly reminder the final deadline to publish your currently unpublished submission to the Prize is less than 2 days away! Please click "Publish" at the top of your submission before January 31, 2020 @ 2:00 p.m. Pacific Time to ensure submission is eligible for the Prize.

Photo of Lauren Ito

Hi Ed Weinberg great to see you joining the Prize!

We noticed your submission is currently unpublished. Was this your intention? We'd love to have your submission included in the Prize. Even if you've not started populating your Vision just yet, by publishing your submission you can make it public for other teams in your region to see, get in touch and possibly even collaborate with you.

You can publish it by hitting the "Publish" button at the top of your post. You can also update your Vision at any time before 31 January 2020 by clicking on the "Edit Contribution" on top. If you need inspiration or guidance, take a look at the Food Vision Prize Toolkit. linked here:

Look forward to seeing your Vision evolve through the coming weeks.