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Research Highlights

Research Highlights
Farm-raised fish fed a full diet of farm-raised soybeans based on SAA research

Andy Tauer, Soy Aquaculture Alliance, Executive Director, ISA/ICMC Livestock Director

Pacific Seafood recently announced they had acquired the rights to a species of rainbow trout that can be raised on a fully plant-based diet. This announcement is significant for the Soy Aquaculture Alliance (SAA) for many reasons. As part of our mission, SAA is always seeking opportunities to increase soybean meal inclusion rates in aquaculture diets. Replacing fishmeal in diets with U.S. soybean meal is a priority goal for SAA.

Those higher inclusions rates, including a full soybean meal diet, equates to value for both the domestic aquaculture industry and U.S. soybean farmers. Fishmeal is an expensive and finite resource whereas U.S. soybeans are a consistent, domestically grown input opportunity. This creates value for the aquaculture industry in a nutritionally dependable input and added value for the soybean farmer in a new market opportunity. Again, delivering on the SAA mission.

SAA, along with USB, funded the research that led to the development of this plant-fed rainbow trout species. The research was conducted in 2013 through 2015 at the University of Idaho with USDA-ARS to genetically select fish that were predisposed to processing the soybean meal at higher inclusion rates. After three generational rounds, Dr. Ken Overturf and the team were able to move the needle and began selecting fish with the ability to include higher and higher levels of soybean meal in their diets.

In a recent conversation with Dr. Overturf, he said: “Research like this is critical to our stakeholders in the aquaculture industry. Without funds from organizations like SAA, it can be years before we get a chance to research projects like these.”

Now on the ninth generation of genetic selection, this research paves the way for not only companies like Pacific Seafood to add a sustainable and domestically supported feed source to their farm-raised fish, it creates an opportunity to replicate the success in other aquaculture species.

As a relatively new organization, we are extremely proud that our research investments are finding their way into commercial application. Every year, we select additional research projects that continue to build on the mission of SAA: creating value for the U.S. soybean farmer through opening domestic aquaculture opportunities.