"US: Is shrimp the next greenhouse "cash crop"?"

Research at the University of Missouri could make seafood a major cash crop. David Brune, a professor of agricultural systems management in the MU College of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources, is developing a seafood production by raising saltwater shrimp in a greenhouse. The facility holds about one-twentieth an acre of water and is fully stocked with Pacific white shrimp.



Brune says shrimp is a valuable product that can be produced in a short period. “I can grow a crop of shrimp here every 120 days,” he says. “If I raise the equivalent of 25,000 pounds per acre of water and I can get $4 a pound, that is a $100,000 cash flow per acre of water every 120 days. That’s not soybeans.”

It costs Brune about $3 a pound to produce the shrimp, so for Missouri shrimp to be economically feasible, it will cost shoppers a bit more than typical supermarket shrimp. But Brune estimates many US consumers would willingly pay a premium price for locally grown, higher quality and sustainably produced shrimp.

“If 10 percent of American consumers would pay a premium price for shrimp, that is 120 million pounds a year,” he says. “We’re importing 1.2 billion pounds of shrimp from Asia. So if only one in 10 consumers would pay a dollar or two a pound extra, that is a $100 million market right there.”

Brune, who is also an MU Extension specialist, says seafood eaten today is completely unsustainable. Expanding or even simply sustaining the seafood business will require aquaculture.

“We’re overfishing the world’s oceans in almost every species,” he says. “Nearly all of the aquaculture that is being done internationally is itself unsustainable. Most shrimp are grown in China, Indonesia and Thailand, where producers feed wild-caught fish meal and are discharging waste from their ponds into Asian coastal waters.”

The system that Brune has developed uses algae to control water quality by providing oxygen and removing carbon dioxide and ammonia. Paddle wheels keep the water moving for greater photosynthesis of the algae. That productivity makes it possible to maintain water quality while stocking shrimp at a high density.


Source: waynecojournalbanner.com

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