Three Research Projects that Could Increase Aquaculture’s Use of U.S. Soybean Meal

aquainfo The United Soybean Board (USB) supports many of the key research initiatives that increase the aquaculture industry’s use of soybean meal. Terry Hanson, Ph.D., aquaculture and natural resource economist at Auburn University, describes three exciting research projects (made possible in part by the soy checkoff) that his team at Auburn University is conducting now to benefit U.S. soybean farmers tomorrow:

  1. Increase soybean meal usage in aquaculture. Specifically, researchers on this project are striving to do so through nutrition research in a marine species called Florida pompano. “Biologically, these fish are accustomed to eating fish protein,” Hanson explains. “Research into the addition of an amino acid like compound taurine, is helping us to develop feeds with high soy bean inclusion rates that allow these fish to digest soybean meal and grow as well as if they had been fed diets with high levels of fish meal. This reduces the industry’s reliance on wild-caught marine fish, which can be an expensive and inconsistent food source.”
  2. Improve operational efficiency through in-pond raceways. The goal is to lower the cost of fish production to make catfish farms more efficient. “Research. Experiment. Test. Then get the technology to farmers – that is our process,” Hanson says. “If something makes producers more efficient, we don’t have to spend dollars promoting it; farmers will share efficiencies with other farmers.” And while this research is specific to catfish in the U.S., similar trials are being planned and implemented for other species, including Asian carp in China.
  3. Make aquaculture more sustainable by developing devices to capture fish-waste streams – or “more accurately, nutrient streams from soy-based feeds,” according to Hanson – as an alternative source of income for aquaculture farmers. “Thus fish nutrient streams could be used to fertilize horticulture,” he says. “This project is all about making fish farmers more profitable, while simultaneously making them more efficient and sustainable. It doesn’t get more sustainable than this.”

These projects are made possible, in part, by your checkoff dollars.

“The checkoff is the glue that binds our projects together,” Hanson states. “The more research we do, the better positioned we are to compete for grants and the better U.S. aquaculture production does in the global marketplace, and making U.S. aquaculture better on both sides of the Pacific Ocean.

“Research findings, combined with technical advancements, biological acumen and entrepreneurship, help aquaculture grow on a global scale,” Hanson adds.