World Aquaculture Society Meetings

Add To Calendar 25/02/2016 16:15:0025/02/2016 16:35:00America/ChicagoAquaculture 2016Researching Economic Feasibility of the "Mixed Cell Raceway," Providing A PathWay For Small Farms to Enter the Aquaculture Industry   Versailles 3The World Aquaculture Societyjohnc@was.orgfalseanrl65yqlzh3g1q0dme13067DD/MM/YYYY

Researching Economic Feasibility of the "Mixed Cell Raceway," Providing A PathWay For Small Farms to Enter the Aquaculture Industry  

Traci S. Bell*, Craig M. Bell, James M. Ebeling, PhD, Michael B Timmons, PhD
Ripple Rock Fish Farms
6805 Old Stagecoach Road,
Frazeysburg, Ohio, 43822

Each year, consumers continue to increase their demand for seafood products, due to a higher consumption by both a growing population and a more affluent and health conscience consumer.  As a result, seafood production through aquaculture has become the fastest growing segment of agriculture.  The 2007 Census of Agriculture shows that small-scale farms and ranches make up over 87 percent of all farms.  Combining this with the growing demand for locally grown seafood in the United States, small farmers need an economically feasible solution to enter into the commercial aquaculture market.  To meet this increasing demand for locally grown seafood, indoor intensive recirculating aquaculture production systems (RAS) provides both a controlled environmental and biosecure growing conditions and a year-round production of a safe and high quality product.       

In 2013, Ripple Rock Fish Farms received a Phase I USDA Small Business Innovative Research Grant (SBIR) to support research to take the new technology of the "mixed-cell raceway" out of the science lab and introduce it into the small farm environment to determine the economic feasibility of this production system, as operated by farmers relatively new to fish farming.  The overreaching objective of this research and demonstration project was to bring to commercial viability a well-engineered, robust culture production system that optimizes RAS operating conditions. This objective forms the foundation for the development of an economically sustainable agricultural-based production module to improve small, mid-size, and rural farming practices.  Combining this technology with the large number of unused farm buildings and underutilized resources (water), particularly abundant in the Midwest, and with a reasonable start-up cost will enable small farms to increase productivity and promote agro-tourism.   

The Phase I SBIR  grant for on-farm research of a new aquaculture production technology, i.e. the Mini-Boutique aquaculture system utilizing the "mixed-cell raceway" concept  was successfully completed and for the last 30 months has been operated as a commercial tilapia production facility with a capacity of 20,000 lbs per year.   This presentation documents the Phase I period, during which a grow-out cycle, from fingerlings to market sales was completed.  Cost analysis reveals that production capabilities are improved and front-end costs are reduced, allowing indoor, year-round aquaculture to become a viable option for small farms.  During Phase II, more detailed engineering design questions are being be explored in relationship to the mixed-cell raceway construction details, overall hydraulics, solids removal, aeration and oxygenation, fish grading and harvesting and operations and management.  Other issues that will be addressed include overall waste handling, storage, and utilization, fish handling protocols and equipment, purging systems and transport issues to final markets.  

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