February 10, 2015
This is Fish Radio. I’m Laine Welch….Wild salmon contributes to the growth and quality of fine wine. I’ll tell you more after this –
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Grapes, water, sunshine, skilled hands = and a few thousand dead king salmon. Studies at the world’s premiere wine school – the University of California at Davis – showed for the first time that salmon carcasses in spawning rivers make a big contribution to the growth and very likely the quality of wine grapes growing nearby.
Wild animals eat the carcasses and convert the nutrient laden fish into fertilizers for the grapevines, either through their wastes or by dropping the dead salmon nearby. Before long the nutrients travel through the soil and water into wine grapes growing along the riverbanks. The researchers said those grapes get up to 25 percent of their nitrogen from the salmon.
In wine making, nitrogen affects yeast growth and sugar fermentation and they said there’s no doubt some of the best California wine has salmon in it. The researchers said that grapes – or other crops – getting a quarter of their fertilizer from such natural sources are good for the environment and the farmers’ bottom line.
Nitrogen fertilizers, for example, can cost up to 28-hundred dollars per ton. That doesn’t include labor and fuel costs for applying it. As an aside, the scientists also noted that California salmon hatcheries routinely dispose of salmon carcasses after egg takes, rather than placing them back in the rivers. They said that could be removing significant amounts of nutrients both to agriculture and local ecosystems.
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Fish Radio is also brought to you by Ocean Beauty Seafoods – serving Alaska’s fishing communities since 1910. On the web at www.oceanbeauty.com .. In Kodiak, I’m Laine Welch.