Assessing Sustainability of Shrimp Aquaculture and Integration with a Field Crop

Project Overview

Project Type: Research and Education
Funds awarded in 2001: $68,523.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/2004
Matching Non-Federal Funds: $20,550.00
Region: Western
State: Arizona
Principal Investigator:
Kevin Fitzsimmons
Univ of AZ Environmental Research Lab

Annual Reports


  • Fruits: olives


  • Crop Production: fertigation, nutrient cycling, organic fertilizers, application rate management
  • Education and Training: extension, on-farm/ranch research, technical assistance
  • Production Systems: holistic management, integrated crop and livestock systems
  • Soil Management: soil analysis
  • Sustainable Communities: sustainability measures


    The project focused on integrating aquaculture with irrigated agriculture. Our primary site was a shrimp farm in southwestern Arizona that used effluent from the farm to irrigate olive trees. At that site we demonstrated that the effluent could be used benficially to grow olive trees. There was no significant difference in growth rate of trees receiving effluent compared to trees receiving well water with fertilizer. However, the effluent treated trees did grow significantly greater than trees that received only well water, with no fertilizer added.

    A second experiment, conducted in a greenhouse at the Environmental Research Lab in Tucson, utilized sludge collected from the bottom of harvested shrimp ponds as a soil amendment for tomatos. Tomato plants with the sludge soil amendment produced signifcantly greater amounts of tomato fruit compared to plants grown in unamended soil.

    A third trial was conducted at the Maricopa Agriculture Center in central Arizona. In this trial, effluent from a fish pond, stocked with koi and tilapia, was used to irrigate a field planted with barley for two winters and cotton planted for two summers.

    Project objectives:

    There are five specific objectives in undertaking this project:
    1. Determine the benefits of irrigating olives with low-salinity aquacultural effluents by measuring growth of trees
    2. Determine any detrimental effects on soil caused by the application of saline irrigation water through the monitoring of soil salinity and macro-nutrients
    3. Reduce the reliance on chemical fertilizers through close monitoring of nutrients applied and through the application of nutrient rich aquacultural effluents
    4. Efficient utilization of scarce water resources through the multiple use of water for shrimp production and irrigation
    5. Initiate an integrated aquaculture/agriculture extension program in Arizona by hosting an integrated agriculture field day, distributing a newsletter, and developing a bulletin and website reporting the findings of the research and attitudes of the farmers involved with the trials.

    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.