Life on the land in Australia


Starting an aquaculture farm

If you are thinking of starting an aquaculture business you need to consider:

Establishment costs

To finance an aquaculture operation a formal assessment of the profitability should be conducted before further research and development. Conducting such an assessment could also form the first stage in a more formal approach to a financial institution.

AquaProfit is a decision-making tool that will assist in further analysis on the economics of culturing marine prawns, barramundi, silver perch/jade perch and redclaw. This program will help construct models and evaluate factors that will impact on the economic outcome of the operation. A link to the software is below, under Further information.

Cost to establish an aquaculture farm

Capital costs to fully develop a prawn farm in Queensland, with all appropriate equipment, ponds, buildings and processing facilities, is estimated to be between $100,000 and $150,000 per hectare of pond, not including land costs. The large range in capital costs is driven by costs varying with site selection and depending on proximity to local infrastructure, site topography, vegetation and seawater access.

The capital cost for an intensive pond culture system to grow out 50 tonne of barramundi is $780,000. This 15 ha farm has five hectares dedicated for grow out ponds. Estimated cost includes land purchase, necessary infrastructure and equipment such as buildings, pond construction, vehicles, machinery, tanks, pumps and aerators.

For freshwater fin fish species the establishment costs are relative to the intensity of operation. For example a semi-intensive pond culture operation for the grow out of silver perch, including land purchases, is between $300,000 (15 tonne p.a.) and $700,000 (50 tonne p.a.). An intensive pond culture operation for the grow out of silver perch, including the purchase of land, equipment and the construction of ponds, would be $1 million for 10 ha of ponds with a production output of 50 to 80 tonnes.

For a semi intensive ‘model’ redclaw farm, comprised of 40 grow out ponds and seven juvenile production ponds, the estimated establishment cost is $347,000. This includes the cost of land, hired labour, machinery and all farm infrastructure.

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Returns to aquaculture farming enterprises are influenced by the risks and uncertainty, which are inherent to aquaculture production. Establishing and managing an aquaculture farm, biological requirements of the species, physical environment in which the farm operates as well as current and future markets are all examples of risk that an aquaculturalist faces.

It is important to understand the nature of risks facing each of the aquaculture species and to understand that there are different levels of uncertainty and variability. For example price, output, feed conversion ratios and feed prices are parameters of risk that can vary on a regular basis.

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It is critical that any aquaculture enterprise is central to your plans for you and your family. Your current work situation as well as family finances and commitments need to be determined and arranged when entering into aquaculture. Often people maintain off-farm income to assist in the establishment phase.

Lifestyles of aquaculturalist are dependent on the species and the type of aquaculture systems implemented on their farm – generally, managing a viable aquaculture farm is quite arduous with long hours seven days a week. For example, to grow barramundi, prawns or fin fish intensively in a pond-based system requires regular monitoring and a considerable amount of labour input to meet the optimal growth requirements of individual species.

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Environmental issues and approvals

The technical and licensing aspects of the proposed aquaculture venture should be discussed with staff from Fisheries Queensland and the Department of Environment and Resource Management before proceeding with site selection, design and, where applicable, land purchase. It is extremely important to consider site characteristics such as soil type, its permeability and chemical composition, previous land use, the sensitivity of the environment around the site, water supply and quality, flooding, pond water management, stock security measures and water storage, intake and discharge facilities.

Sourced & published by Henry Sapiecha

October 7th, 2010
Topic: AQUACULTURE, FARMING Tags: , , , ,

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