Testing the Efficacy of a Hybrid Floating Bag and Bottom Planting Method to Grow Oysters

Project Overview

FNE21-983
Project Type: Farmer
Funds awarded in 2021: $11,912.00
Projected End Date: 03/31/2023
Grant Recipient: Forty North Oyster Farms
Region: Northeast
State: New Jersey
Project Leader:
Matthew Gregg
Forty North Oyster Farms
Co-Leaders:
Amelia Stanley
Stockton University and Forty North Oyster Farms

Commodities

  • Animals: shellfish

Practices

  • Animal Production: aquaculture
  • Crop Production: winter storage
  • Education and Training: farmer to farmer, on-farm/ranch research
  • Farm Business Management: labor/employment
  • Pest Management: prevention
  • Sustainable Communities: sustainability measures

    Proposal summary:

    Our proposed study seeks to test the efficacy of two oyster growing methods. The system will consist of the temporal combination of floating bags and bottom planting oysters. Our current gear system of using bottom cages for the entire growing period has many challenges, namely increased costs and labor, that we’d like to eliminate from our oyster farm and others in our community. With our proposed method of testing these two systems, we hope to produce marketable oysters in less time than our current gear while reducing cost and labor. In our experiment, the control oysters will be treated under our normal system of operation using bottom cages, while the experimental oysters will be treated with the proposed hybrid method. Throughout the experiment, survivorship, marketability, and cost-effectiveness will be measured for both the control and experimental, and data for each set will be analyzed and compared to determine if our proposed hybrid system is more effective. If the results of our study show that our proposed hybrid method is more effective, this more sustainable method of farming oysters will be shared with other farmers in our community and start-up operations, increasing productivity and improving the quality of life for farmers and improving the environment. We plan to share the results of our study with local news outlets, scientific publications with the help of our technical advisor,  present at planned meetings, as well as Rutgers Extension facilitated growers’ meetings in our community.

    Project objectives from proposal:

    This project seeks to examine the (1) survivorship, (2) marketability, and (3) cost-effectiveness of the proposed experimental method of growing oysters using floating cages and bottom planting in comparison to the control method of using bottom cages.

    1. Survivorship of oysters will be quantified over the winter months and in the event of potential cownose ray predation
    2. Marketability will be quantified in terms of shell shape, density, and height and qualified in terms of aesthetics
    3. Cost-effectiveness will be measured by records kept of costs of materials and labor of employees to construct, maintain, and transfer oyster crop

    This uncovered information will be useful to other farmers by showing them a better method of growing oysters that will survive over the winter months with decreased cost and labor, while still producing a marketable and quality oyster. If this project is successful, it will improve oyster farming by eliminating the exclusive use of bottom cages, which are popular means of oyster farming in our community, and the challenges that come with this gear type.

    Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture or SARE.