20 Dec 2012

Dairy effluent to fish food project scaled up

3:58 pm on 20 December 2012

A Bay of Plenty regional council project which involves converting dairy effluent into fish food is being scaled up to farm trials.

The project is one of a number to receive a share of the council's $30,000 Bright Idea Fund which is available for staff ideas that fall outside the normal scope of council work.

Rivers and Drainage manager Bruce Crabbe says batch trials show whitebait have successfully been raised on dairy effluent converted into a protein rich plankton.

He says that has cleared the way for trials conducted on farms.

He says the effluent generated by dairying is consumed by an algal bloom that is then fed to a zoo plankton species.

"What we're now working on is a farm trial where we will attempt to take effluent directly out of an effluent pond and have a series of ponds containing the algal bloom and the plankton and then into a drainage pond which will contain the fish the species."

Mr Crabbe says the benefits would be significant for both dairy and aquaculture as a nutrient now seen as a waste product could become a valuable resource.

"The ideal situation for this would be where a dairy farm is located quite close to a stream or estuary so that there would be natural recruitment of the native fish species, the eels or whitebait, into the drainage network.

Mr Crabbe says he's now working on a proposal to secure some external funding to further develop the project.