Alfalfa touted as the next best Aquafeed
To reduce the need for traditionally used fishmeals
image credit: https://www.fws.gov
Scientists of the Agricultural Research Service (ARS), USA and their collaborators have discovered that fish such as Yellow perch love the fish pellets made with a protein concentrate derived from alfalfa’s protein-rich leaves. They're experimenting with alfalfa as part of a broader effort to find suitable alternatives to using fishmeal, a protein-rich ingredient in aquaculture feeds given to ‘farm-raised’ finfish and shellfish.
Aquaculture is the fastest-growing sector of the food industry worldwide, generating $1.37 billion in sales, in the United States alone. However, there's concern that increasing consumer demand for aquaculture products will outpace what the ocean's wild-caught stock of sardine, anchovy, menhaden and other small forage fish can supply as a fishmeal resource for aquafeeds.
According to Deborah Samac, who leads the ARS Plant Science Research Unit in St Paul, Minnesota, “Formulating aquafeeds with plant-based proteins could help lessen the need for fishmeal in aquafeeds, reducing aquaculture's impact on aquatic natural resources. Using nutritious, affordable alternatives to fishmeal could also ease the burden on pelagic fish populations, which are important members of the marine ecosystem and its inhabitants, particularly larger predatory species”.