Editor’s note: The event featured in this story took place prior to the USSEC travel ban due to COVID-19.
USSEC is planning the start of a multi-year initiative to work with the Southeast Asian shrimp industry to encourage the use of better-quality feeds together with “smart” automated feeding systems. A trip to Chachoengsao, Thailand on March 4, was to identify a target cooperator for collaboration.
USSEC Thailand-based contractors, Khun Chuchai Kanjanamayoon and Lukas Manomaitis traveled with Khun Sernpong Pliansree of AQ1 Systems to two shrimp farms in eastern Thailand to discuss the values of using smart automated feeding systems. AQ1 is an automated feeding system that uses audio feedback from shrimp gathered using hydrophones underwater linked to a computer with proprietary algorithms to determine how much and how often to feed shrimp. This technology allows farmers to better regulate the feeding of shrimp so that they have a more consistent feeding approach to speed production and reduce Feed Conversion Ratios (FCR).
Two farms were visited in Chachoengsao Province and one of these farms, Sunanta Farm, will be targeted to become a cooperator with USSEC and AQ1 starting in FY20 to show the value of smart feeding approaches. In FY21 we plan to continue this cooperation to work with showing the value of better feed formulations that include U.S. Soy, which will serve to match the smart automated feeding system with better feeds.
“This is the technology which we were looking for seven years ago and we are very happy to be part of this project,” commented Khun Apirada Suksanguan, the owner of Sunanta Farm.
The shrimp industry is conservative when it comes to new technology approaches, says Mr. Manomaitis, with many shrimp farmers taking a “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” approach,” which is unfortunate, as the shrimp industry actually has a lot of “breaks.” A key improvement could be better feeds and feeding systems that reduce production times, reduce FCRs, and reduce nutrient loading in the ponds. A key part of better feeds will be high quality, consistent U.S. soy products.
Southeast Asia is a major producer of shrimp for world markets. Thailand traditionally has been a leader in showing new types of technology and approaches to the regional industry.