Use of Crawfish and Crab Waste as an Organic Fertilizer and Protein Feed

Project Overview

Project Type: Farmer/Rancher
Funds awarded in 2008: $10,000.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/2010
Region: Southern
State: Louisiana
Principal Investigator:


Not commodity specific


  • Animal Production: aquaculture
  • Crop Production: organic fertilizers

    Proposal summary:

    Louisiana is the nation's leader in aquaculture production (crawfish, crab, and shrimp). A great need exists for the use of the waste from the state's 10 to 15 aquaculture plants. These plants peel crawfish, crab, and shrimp. Louisiana has no plant that deals with the over 100 million pounds of waste generated each year from these plants. It can cost a plant processor $60,000 a year to have the waste picked up daily and hauled to a landfill. On the other hand, one can get the waste materials from these plants for free. It makes good environmental, economical, and social sense, to seek ways to utilize this waste. A need exists for using the waste as a fertilizer and feed source in various farming systems. Generally the nitrogen level of the waste can range from 4.5% to 5.5%. Protein levels of 29% to 34% are common. Purchasing commercial organic fertilizers and feeds are high inputs in organic production. A need exists to use locally abundant alternatives to help reduce the cost of organic production. Feed and fertilizer are two of the largest cost items of organic production. The evaluation of these waste materials using on-farm scientific methodology is needed in Louisiana and other southern states that handle crawfish and crab. Generally, the waste is dumped in our landfills, bayous, and rivers. The application of raw land applying the waste is not always environmentally sound. Land applying the waste materials without grinding can take several months to decompose. Land applying the waste materials in huge piles and mounds without properly incorporating the waste attracts flies. The smell of the decaying materials can be unbearable. The smell can last for days, weeks, and months in a neighborhood or community, if not properly handled. The smells of the decomposing materials is harmful to our clean air in many communities where the waste materials are dumped. Poor air and water quality can pose a health hazard. Finding ways to utilize even 30% to 50% of waste makes good economical, environmental, and social sense. The benefits will be to our generation and to generations to come. Clean air and water are priceless. Our farm with the assistance of the SUAREC, LSU Ag Center, and SUDAS will test practical sustainable methods for developing usages of the crawfish waste (Crawfish-W) and crab waste (Crab-W) at the farm. Finding usages for the millions of pounds of waste materials are better than dumping the waste materials in our landfills, on our lands, and in our waterways that flow thru the south and other regions. Our farm seeks to conduct research trials dealing with promoting the use of the locally abundant Crawfish-W and Crab-W as an organic fertilizer and feed. Our farm proposes to evaluate on-farm low input methods for using raw Crawfish-W and Crab-W that will be processed into crawfish and crab waste meals (Crawfish-WM and Crab-WM). These products will be tested as an organic fertilizer and feed. The waste can be obtained for free from the plants that processing crawfish, crab, and shrimp products. However, there is no plant in Louisiana that process the millions of pound of waste coming from these aquatic peeling and packaging plants. We believe that we are uniquely qualified to develop ways to use the abundant waste materials. Organic farming inputs such as feeds and fertilizers are high compared to conventional farming inputs. The abundant waste and low cost inputs should help heighten the interest in organic farming in Louisiana. With the help of SUAREC, LSU Ag Center, and SUDAS research and extension personnel, we believe that we can demonstrate a low input waste drying process. Our approach should reduce the fly and odor problem. Preliminary research on drying the waste at SUAREC has been encouraging.

    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.