The use of soy meal in aquaculture is rapidly gaining popularity.
As the demand for aquaculture continues to soar with global population growth, there is a significant opportunity for soy as a feed ingredient: aquaculture will consume an estimated 8 to 10 million metric tons of soybean meal in the next decade.
"The soybean check off recognised the bright future of aquaculture and has gotten in on the ground floor with our investment in new technologies to increase soy inclusion in fish diets," says Terry Ecker, United Soybean Board (USB) International Marketing chair and a soybean farmer from Elmo, Mo.
Soy-based diets for select marine fish have been developed and are being demonstrated in several projects located in the Philippines, Vietnam, and China. Research efforts are focused on identifying barriers to soy inclusion in the diets of marine fish such as salmon, pompano, amberjack, Mediterranean sea bass, sea bream and cobia, as well as increasing the soy inclusion in marine shrimp diets.
Indeed, "China's aquaculture industry went from using no soy meal a decade ago to over 150 million bushels annually," says Ecker. "Advances in aquaculture are one of the reasons China is our number one export customer."
Soy meal inclusion shows greater potential in fish than in other livestock rations. In fact, fish diets can contain twice as much soy as any other livestock rations, with over half the diets of many freshwater fish containing soy products in some cases. Since each species of fish has different dietary requirements, part of the research effort includes building a database to house the inclusion rates of each species. Other investments by the soybean check off include new technologies to reduce weather challenges and make aquaculture practicable in more areas.