Locally grown water lentils, also known as duckweed, can provide an answer to this challenge. After all, water lentils are very fast-growing aquatic plants that can produce 3 to 7 times more protein per hectare than conventional land crops such as soybeans. In addition, they have an amino acid composition that is very similar to that of soy. Furthermore, water lentils can use the nutrients still present in residual waters and thus purify these waters, which in turn is interesting for the reuse of raw materials or circularity. Although basic knowledge is already available in Flanders about the cultivation and processing of water lentils, there is still a need for practical knowledge and optimisation.
LemnaPro is a VLAIO-LA project to introduce water lentils as a new protein crop on a larger scale in Flanders. Specifically, LemnaPro wants to achieve this goal by:
- Studying and optimizing water lentil cultivation and harvesting through pilot-scale installations for both animal feed and food applications.
- Developing a user-friendly tool to estimate the economic profitability of water lentil cultivation.
- Optimizing the drying process and protein extraction and analyzing the nutritional and functional properties of the resulting protein-rich powder and extract.
- Developing a protein-rich water lentil burger.
- Testing different silage techniques and optimizing feed pellets based on water lentils.
- Gathering knowledge about the legislation for the use of water lentils in food and feed.
- Providing advice to interested farmers and horticulturists and support to food companies in product development.
The project is primarily addressing:
- Horticulturists with vacant greenhouses or who wish to diversify
- Pig farmers with secondary manure processing
- Aquaculture companies
- Animal feed producers
- Producers of meat and meat alternatives
- Ingredient suppliers
With the LemnaPro project, we want to gain valuable practical knowledge about the cultivation of water lentils in Flanders, which will be poured into a clear cultivation manual. We also wish to conduct research into the processing options of water lentils so that we can also inspire food and animal feed companies to get started with water lentils using interesting brochures and workshops.
- Flanders' FOOD, Belgium
- Inagro, Belgium
- Ghent University, Belgium
- VEG-i-TEC, Belgium
- VIVES University college, Belgium