Sustainable Shrimp Farming Options: To Biofloc or Not To Biofloc
This week I wrote a quick article for the Modern Farmer website about advances in inland and indoor shrimp farming that have allowed an operation in the middle of the Sahara Desert to be considered a sustainable venture.
Here are the first few grafs:
What makes this all possible is a technology called biofloc, which uses microbes within a water recycling and treatment system to creates a closed waste loop. Essentially, biofloc helps indoor and inland fish farming systems mimic the ocean's food web. In this setup, shrimp, or whatever fish is being farmed, are the top predators.
Inland shrimp farming has become a cottage industry in the U.S., and farms have popped up all over, but only a few (honestly just the most recent openings) use the biofloc system. Using biofloc, to make money, you have to go big. For a sole proprietor, it becomes labor intensive monitoring the system all day long.
In my reporting, I exchanged emails with an organic shrimp farmer in Alabama: Green Prairie Shrimp. The owner, David Teichert-Coddington, told me he didn't use biofloc in farming shrimp for such grocers as Whole Foods. David and I didn't conclude our conversation before my story went live, so I thought I'd include his thoughts here to show other options for shrimp farming that aren't massive, high-intensity farms like those that have failed around the world, and destroyed habitat everywhere.
I do not use biofloc technology and I know of nobody close by here that does use biofloc. Our farm is based on earthen ponds. Biofloc is generally used in indoor facilities or facilities with limited land. I’d like to know if you find anybody who uses biofloc commercially to make a living. Most stories I hear are of those who do it small time almost like a hobby, or about huge, capital intensive projects that have little chance of making a profit.
I also asked about how Green Prairie recycles its water, which is a problem for shrimp farms: how to deal with all the waste (which is eaten up in a biofloc facility).
We recycle about 70% of our water at harvest by pumping water from full pond to empty pond. We moderate stocking and feeding rates in order to allow the ponds to naturally recycle wastes. The key to making our systems work is moderation; i.e., we do not maximize production in our ponds.
For more than you need to ever know about inland shrimp farming, read the story.