- Animals: shellfish
- Animal Production: aquaculture
The problem in temperate climates is that production of freshwater prawns is limited to a single season, with growout taking place in approximately 100 days. Under these constraints of temperate and time, pond production rates must be maximized to achieve commercial viability. Another problem is how to achieve greater yields without increasing the number or size of the ponds. The larger the pond means using more water, a precious natural resource.
Prawns are primarily bottom feeders and as such are constrained to a two-dimensional area rather than the whole area of the pond like finfish. This is further aggravated by the fact that they are territorial and cannibalistic. Several studies have documented the benefits of adding artificial substrate to production units (e.g., tanks) to increase available surface areas besides the bottom for prawns.
This added surface area has the ability to create a high-density pond. This means using the same pond and same quantity of water; yet able to add more prawns to produce a higher yield. This could be a cost/benefit issue.
This grant will determine if adding the substrate will generate a higher yield compared to the pond with no substrate. Will the higher yield (income) offset the added cost of the substrate or pay for itself?
By research, we will prove by adding substrate to a pond, we can use the same amount of pond space and water, a valuable resource, yet increase the size and yield of the prawns. This grant will also see if the higher volume and increased revenue will offset the cost of the substrate.
To create this added surface area at the bottom of the pond, a plastic bird netting will be staked into the pond. Bird netting was used because it has a lower cost than the orange construction fencing.
As part of the research, we utilize FFA students to help us with the harvest. The students do most of the hard, physical work but are also very curious about producing and harvesting fresh water prawns and usually ask lots of questions. For several, it is a first time experience working in the aquaculture industry. We also have a few students who have worked previous harvests. It is interesting how these students become the leaders showing and teaching the others various aspects of the harvest. It is an incredible educational opportunity for everyone –students and adults.