THE CULTIVATION OF SHRIMPS IN TRADITIONAL EARTHEN POND SYSTEM | PART 1
For those who have regularly checked out our progress on Youtube / Facebook, you will have probably realized that we have taken over an abandoned shrimp pond in Malaysia. So in addition to our indoor shrimp farms, we will also have to manage the cultivation of shrimp in traditional earthen pond systems. Fortunately, we have already successfully completed one cycle of crop of Litopenaeus Vannamei. Our objectives for taking over the location is to experiment how our indoor farming techniques could help to improve production for outdoor pond farmers, and we decided the best way to do that is by leasing an abandoned pond that has been plagued by failures/diseases…..
Access to Water Supply
Coming from an indoor farming background, having direct access to seawater has always been a delight to us. Being located only 300-400 meters from the sea, this particular location has a great advantage when it comes to accessibility to a good water source. The salinity of the water can reach up to 28-30 ppt during the summer months, while maintaining 20-21 ppt during the monsoon month. However, farms that are located further from the sea will not enjoy the similar advantage. Other minerals like alkalinity, magnesium and calciums are also adequate for shrimp farming. Alkalinity levels are in the range of 100-150 ppm, calcium in the 280-330 ppm, while magnesium is about 1000-1200 ppm. While the site can also be used to cultivate other marine and brackish water species, we believe that the cultivation of the Litopenaeus Vannamei is ideal for this location.
Apart from good access to water quality, the site also has access to the power grid. To be specific, we have 3 phase power on site capable of running up to 30-40 HP. This is an added advantage because not many farms with access to good quality water are connected to the power grid. For better reliability of the equipment, we have a preference for 3 phase power as opposed to 1 single phase. Due to the location and the nature of the business, the site has also been designated as agriculture production, allowing us to obtain a special tariff for agriculture production. This is also an added advantage for operators as it significantly allows us to reduce our production cost.
The total land acreage is about 2 hectares, with 4 ponds on site. The main cultivation ponds are about 1 acre each, while other ponds are smaller. The previous operators have maximized production by stocking shrimp in ponds. In our case, we have opted for the more conservative route by operating only 1 pond at time to assess the environmental risks throughout the year. Despite this, what we observe is that the shrimp farming operation is very labor efficient, as we are able to operate the whole site (and I believe we could operate 2 ponds simultaneously) with only 1 operator. However, it is important to point out that most of our farms are automated with timers, and the only key variable that the operator needs to focus on is feed management.
While the site enjoys many advantages to produce shrimps, production has not been very successful for the previous operators. At the time of this post, we have already completed 1 round of harvest from the period of April- August (summer months), and currently already midway into the 2nd crop in the period of September-November (monsoon months). In the next few posts, I will write about some of the challenges that we have faced during production and share some results on our exciting experience/sleepless nights with traditional earthen pond farming.