Just another day in Foods of Norway

Fish on four wheels

  • Upon arrival: PhD student in Foods of Norway, Jeleel Opeyemi Agboola (far right), along with master's student Dominic D. Mensah, researcher Sergio Rocha and head of Foods of Norway, professor Margareth Øverland, made sure the fish had a stress-free move from Ås to NIVA's facilities in Drøbak.
    Photo
    Foods of Norway/Bente Paulson

Will tomorrow’s fish feed grow on trees? 450 small fish in seawater tanks by the Oslo Fjord will hopefully bring us a little closer to the answer.

Fish on four wheels

It is a Tuesday morning in September, and 450 fish are being packed up and will soon be on their way from the fish lab at the Norwegian University of Life Sciences (NMBU) in Ås to the research facilities at the Norwegian Institute for Water Research (NIVA)  in Solbergstrand by the Oslo Fjord. During the next five weeks the fish will gradually be exposed to seawater while being fed novel feed based on sustainable resources – research right at the heart of Foods of Norway. The protein in their feed will be partially replaced with yeast grown on sugars from Norwegian spruce trees and by-products from the poultry industry.

Researcher Sergio Rocha and PhD student Jeleel Opeyemi Agboola carefully place the fish in the bags before transporting them to NIVA's facilities

Researcher Sergio Rocha and PhD student Jeleel Opeyemi Agboola carefully place the fish in the bags before transporting them to NIVA's facilities

Photo
Foods of Norway/Bente Paulson
From tree to sea

In Ås, the fish are weighed and carefully placed in large plastic bags filled with water and oxygen, before being placed in the back of a van that will take them to the research facilities in Solbergstrand just outside the little coastal town of Drøbak. NMBU and Foods of Norway are fortunate to have access to their own facilities at NIVA, providing opportunities for unique trials, monitoring and dissection.

The 12-kilometre drive to the research institute at Solbergstrand is a leisurely one. The winding country road takes us through a short stretch of tall spruce trees, a reminder of what we are doing here. The purpose of this trial is to document the use of feed made from trees, and to see the effects this feed can have on the intestinal health of the fish as well as their health in general. The fact that this experiment is performed while transitioning them from freshwater to saltwater, their most vulnerable phase, makes the findings even more interesting.

The yeast used in this experiment has been cultivated by Foods of Norway in the biorefinery laboratory NorBioLab at NMBU from residual biomass from Norwegian forestry and hydrolysed protein from by-products from the poultry industry. From this yeast researchers and technicians in the centre have manufactured the feed in the laboratory at NMBU’s Faculty of Life Sciences.

18 seawater tanks will be the home of the 450 fish for the next five weeks, where they will be monitored daily

18 seawater tanks will be the home of the 450 fish for the next five weeks, where they will be monitored daily

Photo
Foods of Norway/Bente Paulson
- We believe that wood-based yeast can improve the health of salmon during their most vulnerable stage of life, the transition from freshwater to seawater, explains PhD student in Foods of Norway Jeleel Opeyemi Agboola. - This is what we hope this experiment will help shed light on. We are also documenting what other positive effects yeast-based feed can have, beyond its nutritional value. This is a follow-up trial from our previous results in freshwater, where yeasts have proved to improve the Atlantic salmon’s immunity against diseases intestinal health and growth.

Jeleel is responsible for the trial, which is part of his doctoral degree. Together with master’s student student Dominic D. Mensah and researcher Sergio Rocha he makes up the team transporting the fish from Ås to Solbergstrand.

PhD student Jeleel will care for the fish for the next five weeks

PhD student Jeleel will care for the fish for the next five weeks

Photo
Foods of Norway/Bente Paulson
Valuable research facilities

Upon arriving at NIVA, the bags with the fish are carefully carried into a room with 18 tanks, each holding 25 fish. Foods of Norway has unique access to this room, which for this experiment is priceless, says Jeleel. The facilities are right on the shore, and the use of these tanks can help simulate the water quality and ecology the fish would normally live in.

- When using these facilities, we can conduct the trial in similar conditions as in the sea. In this way, knowledge gained from this trial will be available to stakeholders in Norwegian salmon farming, such as fish farmers and feed manufacturers, in order to improve yield and overall productivity, he emphasizes.

In about five weeks, the 200 fish will be dissected and analysed. The research team will look at the microbiotic culture in their intestines, but also study immune responses in the spleen and head-kidney for indications relating to health. However, until then 200 small salmon must be cared for and fed. Every day – for five weeks. The amount of feed they digest must be monitored and documented daily by Jeleel or one of his colleagues, by measuring the amount of feed falling to the bottom of the tank.

Based on this trial, Jeleel and his colleagues in Foods of Norway will be able to document ground-breaking research. Meanwhile, the fish swim around in their tanks, munching on food made in a lab in Ås, totally unaware of the importance of their existence.

Published 5. November 2020 - 15:16 - Updated 6. November 2020 - 9:32