Novacq prawn feed, developed by CSIRO, is helping Australian prawn farmers grow bigger, healthier prawns sustainably, faster and cheaper.

The challenge

Boosting productivity while reducing prawn farmers' reliance on wild fish stocks

Australian prawn farmers need to feed their prawns with a pellet that includes fish meal or fish oil to ensure the prawns grow fast and are a healthy and high-quality product for consumers. With the world's wild fish stocks under pressure, our scientists went looking for new and better ways to sustainably boost productivity.

[Music plays and CSIRO logo and text appears: Taking NovacqTM prawn feed to the world]

[Images move through of a truck parked at the Ridley Aqua Feed Mill, workers inside the mill, a male shovelling feed and the feed on the shovel and the feed in his hand]

[Images move through of Larry Marshall talking to the camera and holding up a specimen container of prawn feed, two workers talking and workers walking towards each other and shaking hands and text appears: Dr Larry Marshall, Chief Executive, CSIRO]

Dr Larry Marshall: The Novacq story is a really fantastic example of CSIRO research partnering with Australian business to take a breakthrough innovation to the entire world. 

[Images move through of a male on a forklift, the forklift picking up a bale of aqua-feed, workers in the mill, people carrying buckets, Larry Marshall talking and feed being run through the fingers]

Ridley is the world’s leading producer and supplier of CSIRO invented Novacq and CSIRO has now licensed Novacq to all prawn feed markets globally, opening up all types of new opportunities for Ridley and delivering significant economic returns for Australia.

[Image changes to show Dr Matthew Briggs talking to the camera and text appears: Dr Matthew Briggs, Technical Project Manager, Ridley Corporation]

Dr Matthew Briggs: Novacq is a sustainably produced raw material. 

[Images move through of specimen containers of different types of prawn food, a container of pellets, the different types of prawn food again and prawns moving around underwater]

When included into the prawn diets it increases the growth rate of the prawns and reduces their requirement for feed. 

[Image changes to show Dr Matthew Briggs talking to the camera]

So, you’re in effect feeding less feed to get more prawn. 

[Image changes to show a male walking on a pathway next to a prawn farming operation and then images move through of people walking down a corridor and a male catching a prawn in a small net]

CSIRO have spent the last ten years developing and patenting this product. 

[Camera zooms in on the prawn and then the image changes to show Dr Matthew Briggs talking to the camera and then the image changes to show three prawns being held in the hand]

When we found out about the work they’ve done with that we asked CSIRO if we could become involved in the marketing and development of this product to satisfy our customers. 

[Music plays and images move through of a male working on a laptop, a prawn being weighed and Dr Richard Smullen talking to the camera and text appears: Dr Richard Smullen, Group Technical and R & D Manager, Ridley Corporation]
 
Dr Richard Smullen: What Novacq will allow us to do is have probably the most cost-effective diet in the world.

[Images move through of Dr Richard Smullen looking down and then feeling the prawn feed between his fingers, laptop screen displays of prawn growth and Dr Larry Marshall talking to the camera]
 
Dr Larry Marshall: Prawns fed with Novacq grow 20% to 40% faster and are healthier and can be produced with reduced wild fish products in their diet and that means more profit for prawn farmers but less pressure on our precious marine resources.

[Image changes to show Tim Hart talking to the camera and then images move through of a large prawn farming operation and text appears: Tim Hart, CEO Ridley Corporation]
 
Tim Hart: As a result of our strategic R & D alliance with CSIRO, we have decided to significantly invest in our operations in Yamba in New South Wales and also in Chanthaburi in Thailand. 

[Images continue to move through of a prawn farming operation and then the image changes to show a tap running water into the prawn farm area]

Our production and processing facility in Thailand gives us an ideal opportunity to scale up production in an ideal environment close to Asia’s large prawn industry. 

[Images move through of the running water, a machine picking up sacks of feed, a sack of feed moving along a conveyer belt and Dr Matthew Briggs talking to the camera]

Dr Matthew Briggs: We can use this product to replace the scarce and increasingly expensive raw materials from the sea, the fish meal and the fish oil that is traditionally used in prawn diets with land based protein and thereby produce a more environmentally friendly and effective feed.

[Images move through of Dr Richard Smullen talking to the camera, a male working inside the feed mill, a sack of feed moving along a conveyer belt and a worker inside the factory]

Dr Richard Smullen: So, kilo for kilo, our diet is not only the most sustainable diet in the world with Novacq but will also be the most cost-effective diet in the world.

[Image changes to show Dr Larry Marshall talking to the camera]

Larry Marshall: As part of our long term research alliance with Ridley, we’re now also exploring how Novacq could benefit other species beyond just crustaceans.

[Image changes to show Dr Matthew Briggs talking to the camera]

Dr Matthew Briggs: This has been a real game changer for us here in Ridley. 

[Image changes to show prawns moving around underwater]

If it wasn’t for the likes of CSIRO, we wouldn’t have Novacq and we wouldn’t be in the position that we are today. 

[Image changes to show Dr Matthew Briggs talking to the camera]

So, overall this R & D that is supported by CSIRO is absolutely fundamental to our industry.

[Image changes to show an aerial view of the feed mill operation and then the image changes to show a pallet of feed sacks and then the image changes to show Tim Hart talking to the camera]

Tim Hart: For us, Novacq is a true success story of research and industry coming together to commercialise a novel feed ingredient that will significantly benefit the Australian and international prawn industries.

[Image changes to show Dr Larry Marshall talking to the camera and holding up a specimen container of prawn feed]

Larry Marshall: So, on Christmas in future, it might not just be the prawns on your barbie that have grown up on Novacq but the entire seafood buffet.

[Music plays and CSIRO logo and text appears: Australia’s innovation catalyst]




Taking NovacqTM prawn feed to the world

Our response

An entirely natural food source produced by marine microbes

The research started in the late 1990s when CSIRO researchers observed the important role marine microbial organisms play in the natural diet of prawns. The team spent several years learning how to manipulate marine microbial organisms to maximise their productivity in controlled environments, and stimulating them to produce a novel bioactive product to enhance prawn growth.

The research integrated skills in prawn biology, microbiology, biochemistry and nutrition. The result was NovacqTM, an entirely natural food source produced by marine microbes.

The results

Bigger, healthier, faster-growing prawns and a new Australian industry

Prawns fed with NovacqTM grow on average 20-40 per cent faster, are healthier and can be produced with reduced wild fish products in their diet. This means more profit for prawn farmers and less pressure on our precious marine resources. It has also stimulated a whole new industry in Australia: the production of a sustainable prawn feed ingredient.

The first of a series of patents for the NovacqTM production technology was granted in 2009. Since then, the CSIRO NovacqTM team has worked closely with Australian and Asian feed manufacturing companies to implement a global commercialisation strategy.

The production of NovacqTM commenced under licence in Australia, and in China and Vietnam, two of the world's largest producers of farmed prawns. As of early 2017, license arrangements for NovacqTM technology with Ridley Aquafeeds were extended to the rest of the world (excluding China and Vietnam).

We are now also extending our research and knowledge of the NovacqTM technology to enhance production and to explore the innovation beyond just crustaceans to other species as well.

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