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Polybridge Technical Report

Palmer, P. J., Wang, S. and Nash, W. J. (2016) Polybridge Technical Report. Technical Report. Queensland Government, Brisbane.



This study examined the physical and chemical properties of a novel, fully-recirculated prawn and polychaete production system that incorporated polychaete-assisted sand filters (PASF). The aims were to assess and demonstrate the potential of this system for industrialisation, and to provide optimisations for wastewater treatment by PASF. Two successive seasons were studied at commercially-relevant scales in a prototype system constructed at the Bribie Island Research Centre in Southeast Queensland. The project produced over 5.4 tonnes of high quality black tiger prawns at rates up to 9.9 tonnes per hectare, with feed conversion of up to 1.1. Additionally, the project produced about 930 kg of high value polychaete biomass at rates up to 1.5 kg per square metre of PASF, with the worms feeding predominantly on waste nutrients. Importantly, this closed production system demonstrated rapid growth of healthy prawns at commercially relevant production levels, using methods that appear feasible for application at large scale.

Deeper (23 cm) PASF beds provided similar but more reliable wastewater treatment efficacies compared with shallower (13 cm) beds, but did not demonstrate significantly greater polychaete productivity than (easier to harvest) shallow beds. The nutrient dynamics associated with seasonal and tidal operations of the system were studied in detail, providing technical and practical insights into how PASF could be optimised for the mitigation of nutrient discharge. The study also highlighted some of the other important advantages of this integrated system, including low sludge production, no water discharge during the culture phase, high ecosystem health, good prospects for biosecurity controls, and the sustainable production of a fishery-limited resource (polychaetes) that may be essential for the expansion of prawn farming industries throughout the world.

Regarding nutrient discharge from this prototype mariculture system, when PASF was operating correctly it proved feasible to have no water (or nutrient) discharge during the entire prawn growing season. However, the final drain harvest and emptying of ponds that is necessary at the end of the prawn farming season released 58.4 kg ha-1 of nitrogen and 6 kg ha-1 of phosphorus (in Season 2). Whilst this is well below (i.e., one-third to one-half of) the current load-based licencing conditions for many prawn farms in Australia, the levels of nitrogen and chlorophyll a in the ponds remained higher than the more-stringent maximum limits at the Bribie Island study site. Zero-net-nutrient discharge was not achieved, but waste nutrients were low where 5.91 kg of nitrogen and 0.61 kg of phosphorus was discharged per tonne of prawns produced. This was from a system that deployed PASF at 14.4% of total ponded farm area which treated an average of 5.8% of pond water daily and did not use settlement ponds or other natural or artificial water remediation systems.

Four supplemental appendices complement this research by studying several additional aspects that are central to the industrialisation of PASF. The first details an economic model and decision tool which allows potential users to interactively assess construction and operational variables of PASF at different scales. The second provides the qualitative results of a prawn maturation trial conducted collaboratively with the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) to assess dietary inclusions of PASF-produced worms. The third provides the reproductive results from industry-based assessments of prawn broodstock produced using PASF. And the fourth appendix provides detailed elemental and nutritional analyses of bacterial biofilm produced by PASF and assesses its potential to improve the growth of prawns in recirculated culture systems.

Item Type:Monograph (Technical Report)
Funders:Australian Government
Corporate Creators:Department of Agriculture and Fisheries
Projects:National Landcare Programme Innovation Grant No. 041
Business groups:Animal Science
Subjects:Aquaculture and Fisheries > Aquaculture
Aquaculture and Fisheries > Aquaculture > Mariculture
Live Archive:17 May 2016 04:47
Last Modified:03 Sep 2021 16:50

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