New project to explore sustainable shrimp production paired with AD

A new research project designed to unlock the potential of sustainable shrimp production in the UK plans to co-locate production with anaerobic digestion (AD) facilities.

The project, led by experts at the University in Exeter in partnership with the University of Reading and Rothamsted Research, has received a multi-million pound funding boost.

The research, which also includes 11 industrial partners including Sainsbury’s, Lyons Seafoods and Ixora Energy, has received £2 million (€2.37 million) from UK Research and Innovation, as part of its Transforming UK Food Systems Strategic Priorities Fund Programme.

The project seeks to introduce a risk-free, healthier, and sustainable supply chain for consumers by helping to expand this model of production across the UK, while encouraging UK terrestrial farms to carry out practices that directly benefit the environment and human health.

It plans to co-locate shrimp farming production with renewable energy sources across several existing AD plants. The research team believes that if just 20% of the UK’s current AD plants were adapted for shrimp farming, they could introduce 960 shrimp production units and harvest 5,520 tonnes of shrimp per year – around 25% of current UK warm water shrimp imports.

The project, titled ‘Transformational blueprint for a blue economy on UK terrestrial farms: integrating sustainable shrimp production in a changing agricultural landscape’, will be led by Professor Rod Wilson, from Exeter’s Biosciences department, with co-investigators including Professor Ian Bateman from Exeter’s Land, Environment, Economics and Policy Institute.

“In the UK, we already love eating shrimp (king prawns) as a healthy, high quality and tasty seafood,” said Wilson.

“This project aims to transform practices on UK terrestrial farms to encourage the integration of home-grown, indoor shrimp production alongside anaerobic digesters that use farm waste to make renewable energy.

“These digesters also generate a lot of heat, which is otherwise wasted, but tropical king prawn farms can utilise this heat to make their production cost-effective in the UK. This simultaneously means we will have better control over both their nutritional quality and the environmental impact of their production.”

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