Increasing economic and environmental sustainability of aquaculture production systems through aquatic plant culture

Project Overview

Project Type: Research and Education
Funds awarded in 2005: $159,309.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/2008
Matching Federal Funds: $27,723.00
Matching Non-Federal Funds: $88,044.00
Region: Northeast
State: Maryland
Project Leader:
Andrew Lazur
University of Maryland Ctr. for Environmental Sci.

Annual Reports


  • Animals: fish


  • Crop Production: multiple cropping, organic fertilizers
  • Production Systems: agroecosystems, integrated crop and livestock systems

    Proposal abstract:

    Aquaculture in the Northeast is dominated by production of fish species using three production systems: raceways, recirculating systems and ponds. These production systems are relatively costly to operate, especially for food species, and are faced with increasing production costs and environmental regulations for effluent management. Species diversification, shifting to higher value species, or integrating additional crops or polyculture are useful strategies for farms to improve profitability. Aquatic plant culture for ornamental and restoration markets has proven to be an emerging industry and high value crop. In addition, aquatic plants are an important means of nutrient uptake. Combining plant’s nutrient uptake potential with aquaculture effluent has potential to address two key issues of aquaculture farms: how to increase farm income and management of farm discharges. This project will provide aquaculture producers in the Northeast an opportunity to understand the variety of aquatic plant species and their market potential; learn how to integrate plants into their production systems through tiered workshops, training and applied research and demonstration projects utilizing the three productions systems (raceways, recirculating systems and ponds); understand the economic potential by review of economic analyses of each demonstration project; and receive implementation support through targeted technical support programming. The three system projects will be directly applicable to over 420 fish producers in the Northeast who employ one of the three culture systems, and secondarily to state and federal fish hatcheries. Through a series of milestones, including plant market surveys, workshops and training, tours, and implementation instruction and support, 15 operations are expected to integrate aquatic plant production in their operations and increase farm income through plant sales and reduce nutrient concentration of their farm effluent.

    Performance targets from proposal:

    Of the 420 aquaculture producers in the Northeast who utilize either raceways, ponds or recirculating systems and are included in project activities, 15 will implement aquatic plant culture in their operations reducing nutrient concentration in culture system effluent and increasing farm income through sales of plants.

    Verification of performance target will be determined by the implementation of plant culture in the 15 farms, evaluation of their effluent nutrient data indicationg redcution in nitrogen and phosphorus, and a measure of increase of farm income through plant sales.

    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.