Nebraska Soybean Board members and staff saw firsthand how soy grown in Nebraska contributes to seafood production worldwide at the United States Soybean Export Council’s Aquaculture Education Opportunity in Campeche, Mexico.
It was Nebraska Soybean Board Chairman Tony Johanson’s third time attending the Aquaculture Education Opportunity.
“The trip is meant to educate us on some of the practices being used in other countries to incorporate U.S. soybeans into fish diets and feed additives,” Johanson said.
As consumer demand for seafood rises, so does the need for farm-fed fish. Soybean meal is a high-quality protein that can be used in addition to or instead of fish meal in aquaculture.
Eugene Goering, Nebraska Soybean Board member and secretary of the Soy Aquaculture Alliance, said the Aquaculture Education Opportunity allows soybean growers to better understand the challenges facing aquaculture.
“We get to learn what their needs are, and that helps us decide what projects to fund and what direction we need to be focusing our research on. The soybean checkoff dollars are investing into different research projects. Our own researchers have done a lot specifically with aquaculture feeds,” Goering said.
Some of those projects included the addition of taurine, an important nutrient in fish diets, to soybean meal, research in feeding techniques that prevent overfeeding and cleaning techniques that reduce water use.
Johanson said sustainability is one of the challenges facing aquaculture that the Nebraska Soybean Board hopes to solve with its research.
“We’ve got something we can build upon and keep going for years down the road. U.S. soybeans are one of the most sustainably produced products,” Johanson said. “We’re trying to make sure, year in and year out, that we’re producing a product we can use to supplement fish feed and livestock feed.”