Increasing Sustainability of Crawfish and Low Salinity Shrimp Production in West Alabama

Project Overview

Project Type: Farmer/Rancher
Funds awarded in 2020: $12,581.00
Projected End Date: 03/31/2022
Grant Recipient: Greene Prairie Aquafarm, LLC
Region: Southern
State: Alabama
Principal Investigator:


  • Animals: fish, shellfish


  • Animal Production: aquaculture

    Proposal summary:

    Traditional versus Deep-water Crawfish System

    We propose to evaluate the production economics of crawfish farming in both traditional and deep-water systems practiced on commercial farms in west Alabama. In the process, we will also evaluate the contribution that crawfish farming can make to a commercial saltwater shrimp farm enterprise as a diversification crop. This information will help us farmers decide about the sustainability of crawfish production in west Alabama as a stand-alone crop and for diversification on low salinity shrimp farms.

    Trapping Efficiency 

    We will evaluate the efficiency of trapping on the shallow inner slopes of ponds instead of in the deeper pond bottom of deep-water ponds. This simple information may make the difference between continuing deep-water crawfish farming or not.

    Project objectives from proposal:

    Traditional versus Deep-water Systems

    Two farms will be studied to provide us with economic analyses of crawfish production.  At Greene Prairie Aquafarm (GPA) two deep-water earthen ponds ranging from 4 to 4.5 acres each and averaging 3 to 4 feet deep were originally stocked with crawfish in June of 2018. These ponds will provide data for economic analysis of deep-water crawfish systems for comparison with traditional crawfish and inland, low salinity shrimp systems. They will also serve as the study site for the deep vs shallow trapping portion of the study. 

    Two traditional crawfish ponds at German Creek Crawfish (GCC), originally stocked in May of 2018, will provide data for the economic analysis of a traditional forage crop based production system. These ponds are 2.5 and 3.5 acres in size and have an average depth of 2.5 ft. These ponds are planted annually during July with a mixture of sorghum and Japanese millet for forage at a seeding rate of 50 pounds per acre.

    Records of total costs, harvest yield, and sales for deep-water and traditional ponds will be recorded on each farm in order to accurately compare the two production systems. A limited economic analysis will be applied to each system to develop an enterprise budget for each production strategy. The returns from crawfish production will also be compared to low salinity shrimp culture which will be farmed during the same time at GPA. Additionally, water temperatures will be monitored with automated temperature measuring devices ( Onset HOBO temperature loggers, Bourne, MA) in all ponds to identify the level of influence pond depth has upon maintaining cooler temperatures and extending the harvest season.


    Long vs short traps

    We propose to test the use of long and short necked traps for harvesting crawfish at GPA.  Short necked traps will be placed in 12 to 18 inches of water and long neck traps will be placed in 24 to 32 inches of water. The traps will be alternated shallow and deep around the periphery of each pond with the same number of short and long necked traps in each pond.

    Records will be kept for each harvest day of the total weight of crawfish harvested from each type of trap. Once a week, the amount of time required to harvest deep-water versus shallow water traps will be recorded. First one size of trap will be harvested in the whole pond and then the other size will be harvested. Traps will be harvested 2 to 3 times a week from 1 April to 30 June.

    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.