Asian carp farming systems: towards a typology and increased resource use efficiency


Correspondence: Mrs C Michielsens, Environmental Sciences and Technology, Imperial College, RSM Prince Consort Road, London SW7 2BP, United Kingdom. E-mail:


Resource use efficiency in Asian carp farming systems is analysed based on a survey of 2493 farms of nine countries. Multivariate classification of farms by intensity and diversity identified six farm types: four types of specialized aquaculture farms at different levels of intensity, and two types of integrated agriculture–aquaculture systems. Pond-based, specialized semi-extensive systems (using mainly inorganic fertilizers and feeds of off-farm origin), and integrated semi-intensive systems (using feeds and fertilizer of both on and off-farm origin) are by far the most common types, accounting for 59% and 27% of all farms respectively. Specialized semi-extensive systems also show the highest protein and nutrient (N and P) use efficiencies, and among the highest labour use efficiency. Super-intensive cage farms are less efficient in nutrient and labour use, but provide very high returns to land and capital investment. On average, the aquaculture components of integrated agriculture– aquaculture systems are less nutrient, land, and labour efficient than specialized semi-extensive systems. Integrated semi-extensive systems (using organic fertilizers of on-farm origin) are particularly inefficient across all indicators. Hence in practice, gains in overall resource use efficiency through on-farm integration with agricultural production are constrained by the relative inefficiency of the aquaculture subsystems on integrated farms. Although such systems can likely be improved, integration as such is not a panacea to increasing resource use efficiency. Wide variation in resource use efficiency within all systems indicates potential for substantial efficiency gains through improved management regardless of the fundamental choice of system.