When a brewery and distillery in upstate New York makes a batch of rye whiskey, the leftover grain and water now serve a new purpose: feeding fish at an on-site fish farm.
By partnering with a fish farming startup, TimberFish Technologies, it’s able to make money from what might otherwise be considered waste. While the precise savings are difficult to estimate, the facility could save roughly $20,000 to $30,000 over the next five years while making an additional profit on a share of the fish.
“What’s a cost item for them to get rid of, we look at . . . as a valuable resource,” says Jere Northrop, managing member at TimberFish Technologies. “The whole notion is to use that instead of paying to dispose of it.”
At Five & 20’s farm, a 70-foot long tank is divided into zones filled with water and sustainably harvested wood chips mixed with the spent grain. As water from the brewing process flows through the tank, nutrients that it contains–like nitrogen and phosphorus–feed microbes that grow on the wood chips and grain, cleaning the water. Small invertebrates, like worms and snails, feed on those microbes. Fish eat the invertebrates, and fish poop provides more nutrients for the microbes, in a cyclical process.
The tank, TimberFish’s first commercial pilot, was stocked with 300 fish in early September; over the course of a year, it should be able to produce 20,000 to 25,000 pounds of fish. A full-scale commercial facility, which would distribute tanks over five acres of land, could produce 2 to 3 million pounds of seafood a year.
The fish farms can also use other types of plant waste as feed, as long as it’s clean. (The wood chips, which can be taken from dead wood or small cuttings in a forest, provide a new source of income for woodland owners and are meant to incentive planting more forests). They can also produce a range of fish and seafood; the pilot farm is currently stocked with yellow perch, channel catfish, and largemouth bass, but will later add more species. Farms near the coast, with access to saltwater, will be able to raise species that live in the ocean.
Source: Fast Company // Original Article