Asian carp scraps turned into field fertilizer

Turning Asian carp into a form of liquid fertilizer is in its early stage compared to what a company sees as potential, according to an Associated Press report.

Huge amounts of Asian carp have infested the Mississippi River and rivers feeding it. The prolific reproducing fish has been the thorn in the side of those trying to preserve native fish. The huge number of Asian carp wipe out feed of other fish and could starve some native species out of existence. The carp were first imported and bred to clean catfish ponds of vegetation and water pollutants in the south but escaped into the environment.

The Associated Press quoted Mike Schafer, president of Schafer Fisheries as saying, "There's no other fish like it.

Because of the sheer volume of carp in the wild, Schafer has set up processing  plants in Illinois, Iowa, Kentucky and Wisconsin where carp are turned into fish products for export to 16 countries. He says the company is expanding from carp fillets into products such as carp patties, fish sticks, nuggets, hot dogs and jerky. Even though he sees the need for expanding into all these products, he also admits turning a profit with carp has been a bumpy road.

Not commented on by Schafer is the assumption that Asian carp will continue to own the rivers of the U.S. no matter how much commercial fishing occurs.

Schafer sees the potential for large volumes of organic liquid fish fertilizer being made from the scraps. If the supply of fish continues, could the carp scraps be a permanent supply of organic fertilizer for farmers and worth investment for establishing larger-scale fertilizer processing and holding tanks? Schafer sells what is produced today in everything from five-gallon containers to semi-truck loads, he reports. 

Fertilizer of the type Schafer is offering has been used in Asia for hundreds of years. Its use in the U.S. is basically not even recognized other than for organic gardeners, even though there have been scraps from catfish processing available in the farming regions of the south.

An article written by Lindsay Hocker in 2009 and posted on explains Schafer's fertilizer manufacturing process, and how the concentrated liquid fish product is sold in small and large volumes to be diluted in about a 20 to 1 ratio with water.

"The scraps generally are ground daily. Otherwise, they are put in a storage trailer. The ground scraps are kept in the digesting tanks for a few days. Fermentation occurs, and the pH level becomes balanced.

"Then the liquid goes into storage tanks where it is monitored. The product takes about a month to be fully useable. The filtered product goes into holding tanks. The filtered-out bone meal is also sold as fertilizer.


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