Agricultural Incubator Foundation Seeks to Develop Sustainable Agriculture Systems in Northwest, OH
January 16, 2012 | Andrew Burger
Agriculture, aquaculture and food entrepreneurs in northwest Ohio looking to research, develop and test new sustainable food production methods and practices have a high-quality, growing resource in the private, non-profit Agricultural Incubator Foundation (AIF). Formed in late 1999 by a group of area farmers, agribusiness participants, researchers and educators, AIF’s mission “to promote the development, advancement and appreciation of agricultural systems in northwest Ohio that are economically, ecologically and socially sustainable” embodies sustainable agriculture’s fundamental principles.
An overview of some of AIF’s expanding range of applied research and development programs are noted below:
A new focus of AIF’s aquaculture program is developing more productive, sustainable ways of raising baitfish. A 200-square foot baitfish lab is now in place and operational and has allowed researchers the opportunity to conduct studies that include “Developing First Feeding Protocols for Spotfin Shiners and Golden Shiners,” and “Comparison of Survival Rates Between Wild Caught Spotfin Shiners and Captive Brood Stock Eggs” as well as “Growth Rates To Market Size of Spotfin and Golden Shiners In Recirculating Systems.”
Sustainable Agriculture Research Plot
AIF is working with the Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center (OARDC) and the OSU Extension Service to conduct research aimed at developing and promoting sustainable methods and practices. A replicated farming systems experiment at OSU’s 28.8-acre John E. Hirzel Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education Site is currently under way that demonstrates various sustainable crop production options. These include organic, reduced chemical input and high chemical input-no till systems. The main thrust of the research “is to gain a better understanding of what occurs with crop production and soil changes when farmers transition from one management system to another.”
The Ohio Center for Aquaculture Development
AIF is working with the OSU Extension Service to analyze the effects on production efficiency of raising baitfish and freshwater prawn together in the same pond. The project team is experimenting with a variety of recirculating aquaculture systems that will be used to produce yellow perch and commercial-size large mouth bass. Based on results, AIF intends to then educate and train producers interested in converting agricultural buildings to fish farms.