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Sustainable Saltwater Shrimp Cultivation Center Grows in Missouri

November 3, 2011 |

Missouri is not the first place that typically springs to mind if you’re thinking about growing saltwater shrimp. Nonetheless, that’s just what University of Missouri Professor of Agricultural Systems Management, David Brune, along with his students, has been working on since July.

Brune and his students are in the process of building a greenhouse at MU Columbia’s Bradford Research Farm that will enable them to sustainably cultivate saltwater shrimp year-round, according to an article by Yiqian Zhang in the Missourian.

While most fish farmers use traditional still-water ponds to cultivate saltwater shrimp, Brune’s system, which will be about the size of a tennis court, employs a series of raceways rather than still ponds. For reference, a raceway is a flow-through system, or artificial channel utilized in aquaculture systems to culture aquatic organisms. Raceways typically are made up of rectangular basins or canals constructed of concrete and equipped with an inlet and outlet. A continuous water flow-through is maintained to provide the required level of water quality, which allows animals, such as saltwater shrimp, to be cultured at higher densities within the raceway. Brune’s system will contain four raceways – two in an educational area and two in a production area – that will each be about three-feet deep. Dried salt will be added to freshwater to make the raceways conducive to culturing saltwater shrimp.

Brune also plans to grow algae along with the saltwater shrimp, which, as he explained to the Missourian, oxygenates and cleans the saltwater. He will also include a tank of tilapia in the system to feed on algae and zooplankton that can compromise the ability of the saltwater shrimp to grow. A water wheel and two back-up tanks for additional water treatment complete the system.

The back-up tanks will break down the excess ammonia the shrimp produce, converting it to nitrogen gas.

The water in the system will have to be heated, as well. Brune plans to increase the sustainability of the system by installing a biomass generator adjacent to the shrimp cultivation center in which wood or grass will be burned to produce electricity to power the system.

Besides heating the saltwater shrimp cultivation center’s water, he hopes to sell surplus electricity to the local grid operator. Burning wood produces a kilowatt of electricity and two kilowatts of heat, he told the Missourian. While most places just vent the heat, the facility will use it to heat water, he added.

While working as a professor at Clemson University prior to joining MU, Brune said he was able to increase saltwater shrimp yields from 5,000 to 20,000 pounds per acre in experiments that he performed on the patented system that he developed there. That’s about 30-times the population density of a traditional still-water pond.


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