Soy fish food could help state farmersBROOKINGS — Research into alternative fish feed could jump-start the fish-farming industry in South Dakota and provide a new market for soybean farmers, proponents hope.
BROOKINGS — Research into alternative fish feed could jump-start the fish-farming industry in South Dakota and provide a new market for soybean farmers, proponents hope.
“Our target here, our aim, is to reduce operating costs by producing these novel soy ingredients that can replace fish meal,” said Michael Brown, a professor of fishery sciences at South Dakota State University.
Brown and his collaborators are halfway through a three-year, $1.7 million research project sponsored by the South Dakota Soybean Research & Promotion Council to develop these alternative feeds.
Their goal is to identify a production process by which soy-based feed can replace some or all of the protein in the diets of fish raised in public and private hatcheries.
“Quality feed ingredients are going to be very important over the next couple decades,” Brown said.
That’s because most of a commercial fish farm’s budget is spent on fish meal based on marine protein — anchovies, herring and other ocean stock that can cost up to a dollar a pound. Part of this expense is because of the high cost of importing the meal from foreign countries — China, say, or Peru.
That goes for the finished product, too. China exports about 60 percent of all aquaculture products in the world, Brown said, and the U.S. imports about 85 percent of the fish and shellfish it eats.