Agriculture can be broken up into two main categories, livestock and grains. From there it breaks down much further and becomes much more diverse. Even though these two forms of agriculture are vastly different, they are strongly dependent on each other. Animals depend on the forage crop producers grow, and grain farmers need the fertilizer animals produce. It is very simple, but we see the connection in places we don’t always think of.
In March, an Aquaculture conference was held in Ames. There were a couple of tables in the back. People with information on raising the aquatic animals and how to market them. However, it was one booth that really made me stop and ask myself, “what are they doing here?” That booth was the Iowa Soybean Association (ISA).
Now, of course, I am not so naïve to realize fish need to eat. As someone who only fed goldfish, I thought of those food flakes. As someone who fishes, maybe a whole lot of night crawlers. As a person who grew up raising livestock, I should have known better. This was a great time to learn how these animals are fed an appropriate diet and how soybean farmers in Iowa are helping with it.
Iowa Soybean Association’s Chuck White says with the amount of soybean meal that can be produced with Iowa soybeans; it gives fish raisers a great nutritional supplement to be used in tandem with the traditional fish meal.
For those who aren’t familiar with fish meal, it is a nutritional product made from the leftovers of fish which has been processed for other consumption. However, as Karen Long of ISA points out, the supply of fish meal is becoming more expensive for fish farmers. They are working hard through research to find which fish can benefit most from soybean meal supplements.
Research is key to the success of the partnership. White explains the Soy Aquaculture Alliance is made up of people from all over the United States trying to find options for all kinds of fish species. There is no “broad-brush approach” to fish nutrition.
Iowa soybean producers can feel proud their product is going to help many forms of agriculture, sometimes in places they don’t always think about. They can rest assured the Iowa Soybean Association is helping to find many avenues for our soybeans to be used.