The U.S. soy industry is continuing its work with Chinese aquaculture producers to further promote its Intensive Pond Aquaculture (IPA) technologies, which address environmental and food safety concerns in China and in other aquaculture-producing nations. These technologies utilize U.S. soybean meal as a primary ingredient in fish feed and help create a preference for U.S. soybeans.

In 2013, a small demonstration project at a fish farm in Pingwang, Jiangsu Province introduced an innovative aquaculture system that has since proven to be so successful in growing more fish with less environmental impact, that it is now being rapidly adopted across China and across the globe. This is all due to the vision and commitment to sustainability of U.S. soybean growers.

The In-Pond Raceway System (IPRS) was researched and developed at Auburn University with funding by the soybean checkoff program. Dr. Jesse Chappell, Extension Specialist and Associate Professor of Aquaculture Development Hatcheries Management, worked with the Global Soy in Aquaculture Program of the U.S. Soybean Export Council (USSEC) to bring the technology to China, the world’s largest producer of farmed fish with the majority of product raised in freshwater ponds.

“The IPRS system offers multiple benefits to address environmental and food safety concerns,” said Chappell. “By creating a riverine flow in the pond, the fish have a healthy environment, and water quality is protected due to the removal of waste and recycling for other uses, such as biofuel and fertilizer.”

The IPA demonstration in Pingwang achieved notable success in tripling yields, better fish performance, health and quality, a lower feed conversion ratio, labor savings and higher profitability. Impressed with the results, officials from the Chinese government committed to adopting and extending the technology throughout aquaculture producing regions countrywide.

To support the expansion of IPA technology in China, USSEC’s Aquaculture Program has created additional demonstration projects in various provinces, is providing more technical support through seminars and on-site technical services, and organizes visiting teams to well-operated IPA units. Other regions in USSEC’s Aquaculture Program took note of the success of the IPRS in China, and brought teams of interested aquaculture producers from their regions to learn of the many benefits of this new technology.

“Greater food safety, less environmental impact and up to triple the yields are all reasons why the IPRS technology has been enthusiastically received,” said Colby Sutter, Executive Director of USSEC’s Aquaculture Program. “The biggest benefit is water conservation and being able to recycle and reuse the pond water because the waste has been removed.”

Sutter pointed out that limited water resources and water quality are critical factors restricting the growth of the aquaculture industry in China and other regions.

“This system has the potential to revolutionize pond aquaculture, and will certainly help producers worldwide grow to meet increasing demand for high quality fish.”

Currently, the Aquaculture Program is helping to develop IPRS technology for producing grass carp in Vietnam, trout in Colombia, and tilapia in Colombia, Mexico and Egypt.

“This technology has a global reach,” said Chappell. “You can stock a wide variety of fish species and grow them very efficiently, and at the same time maintain a high quality environment. It works well for business, it works very well for the environment and it works very well for the people that live around it.”

While the advantages of the IPA system are well recognized by producers, it has also demonstrated advantages to the U.S. soy industry, according to Sutter. The system requires higher quality feed with high protein and better water stability for lower feed conversion and less waste removal, which means more soy-based feed consumption. U.S. soybeans, with their superior component value, are a perfect fit with the IPA system.

Mark Jackson, former American Soybean Association Board director and a soybean farmer from Iowa, has visited several IPRS demonstration projects in China that he helped fund through the checkoff program.

“Every other row of soybeans that I grow is shipped around the world,” said Jackson, “so it’s very important to invest farmer-funded dollars into research and development in areas where we’re working with long-term customers and a long-term effort to feed the world.”

Sutter said that USSEC remains committed to working with aquaculture producers to help improve the sustainability of their products with innovative technologies, while optimizing the value and utilization of U.S. soy products in feeds.

A video of the IPA technology transfer can be viewed at: