U.S. soy and aquaculture industries work together to increase demand
Illinois’ soybean farmers and aquaculture industry are advancing with their partnerships as a result of increased soy demand for the diets of farmed fish. The Illinois Soybean Association (ISA) and the Southern Illinois University in Carbondale (SIUC) Fisheries and Illinois Aquaculture Centre recently arranged talks with current and forthcoming fish farmers.
They discussed activities meant to support the industry and push aquaculture growth forward throughout the state and the country.
"The relationship of the soybean industry to aquaculture is direct and simple: as we develop higher levels of soybean meal inclusion in fish diets, we can anticipate that as much as half of fish feeds will be soy products," stated Tony Schuur, ISA aquaculture strategy programme contractor.
"When we consider typical fish feed conversion ratios of about two to one, that means that every lb of fish produced might soon represent an additional lb of soy consumption," he went on, reports Prairie Farmer.
The meeting late last month attracted more than 60 interested people. Schuur and Paul Hitchens, aquaculture specialist at the university, put emphasis on the expansion of cage culture production of hybrid striped bass in the copious and vast strip mine lakes spanning southern Illinois.
"Strip mine lakes represent tens of thousands of acres that with an estimated sustainable yield of 5,000 lb per ac per year might support an industry of as much as 50 million lb of fish worth USD 200 million dollars," told Schuur.
"The essential cage culture technology and production system is a viable production method that can easily be replicated. It is not capital intensive, and most farmers can pay back their entire investment in as little as one year of production," he elaborated.
At the meeting, the centre’s James Garvey, Jesse Trushenski and Brian Small talked about the unique role of the SIUC programme and informed the audience regarding fish nutrition research. They said that studies include performance of farmed hybrid striped bass whose diets contained soy products instead of conventional animal proteins and oils, and spoke of research being done to farm shovel-nose sturgeon fed a soy-based diet for the caviar and meat markets.
As well, the centre is running similar studies on rainbow trout, tilapia, white seabass and cobia to augment soy demand for various freshwater and marine fish species.