Optimisation of duckweed hydro-culture in the Netherlands, focussing on protein production

While there is a growing worldwide demand for new protein-rich food sources, only little research has been done on the influence of culturing conditions on duckweed protein yield. Systemic information on influencing protein and other contents would however be invaluable for duckweed growers aiming at maximization of total protein harvest and revenue, and could be used to successfully realize duckweed hydro-culture in the Netherlands.

Growth conditions and protein yield

Duckweeds (Lemnaceae) are quite common in the Netherlands and are sometimes considered more a nuisance than a blessing. Due to its rapid reproduction time, as short as 20 hours, and its ability to grow on high nutrient levels, duckweeds can cover an entire pond in a matter of days. These characteristics make duckweed a very interesting potential crop.

When in a closed production system, the exponential growth of duckweed results in an estimated potential yield of 20-30 tons dry-weight per hectare in the Netherlands. Furthermore protein levels of up to 45% on dry weight basis have been observed. Other components may include approximately 20% crude fibres, 5% lipids, 25% carbohydrates and 20% ash; depending on the culturing conditions.

For duckweed hydro-culture to be sustainable in the Netherlands, a cropping system needs to be designed and optimised for content yield. At the moment some is known about the influence of certain culture conditions on total growth, yet little on their influence on duckweed contents. Therefore, the maximum revenue might not be achieved. This research will focus on getting more insight in duckweed content manipulation, focusing on total protein.


The influence of growth conditions on duckweed dry weight and content yield; crude-protein, crude-lipids, crude-fibre and ash, will be tested and modelled. This model will be validated by testing the influence of growth conditions on duckweed content yield in a pilot production system. These results will give an indication on the possibilities of using duckweed for hydro-culture in the Netherlands, the practical implications and expected yields.

Thesis projects

If you are interested in doing a thesis on duckweed hydro-culture, or if you are interested in duckweed hydro-culture due to other reasons, please feel free to send me an email and we can discuss the possibilities


This project is in cooperation with the consortium ABC kroos (Inodia BV, Innostart BV en Algeacom), Waterzuivering Noorderzijlvest, Acrres Lelystad and Hogeschool van Hall Larenstein.