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Fruit vs Fish to drought-proof our farms


Australian aquaculture company Aquanue says that citrus growers should consider growing fish instead of fruit.

According to Aquanue’s Managing Director, Gareth Lott, land-based aquaculture is more productive than citrus farming by many orders of magnitude.

Aquanue has reviewed data from Primary Industries and Regions SA (PIRSA), the South Australian Research and Development Institute (SARDI), Horticulture Australia, and other sources, and suggests that farming fish in its tank-based system could generate returns per hectare more than 800x the average citrus farm. 

“According to the PIRSA Fresh Citrus Report September 2005 (data based on estimates made by PIRSA in consultation with growers), a conventional citrus farm in the Riverland generates $17,870 revenue per hectare.  A facility occupying a hectare using our system to grow high-value fish for the Chinese market could generate as much as $15,000,000 revenue each year – 839 times the average citrus return form the same amount of land.” according to Lott.

“Our system is a far more efficient user of precious water resources as well” Lott continues. “SARDI data tells us that it can take between 4 and 8 megalitres of water to produce a ton of citrus.  So let’s use 6 megalitres as an average.  That means it takes 6,000 litres of water to produce a kilogram of citrus.  We can produce a kilogram of fish and only consume 70 litres - even as little as 50 litres if the building is properly designed.  That is 0.8% to 1.2% of the water required to produce the same amount of fruit”.

Similar comparisons with other food production sectors show even more attractive numbers.  CSIRO Land and Water scientists revealed the following water requirements:

To produce 1kg of

Water required (litres)

Compared with Aquanue process (approximate)

oven dry wheat grain









Paddy Rice





1,000x – 2,000x

Clean Wool



“Fish can now be farmed on land, in tank systems that use very advanced filtration processes, with much less risk than traditional farming.  Given the growing demand from China, and the pressures faced by our water supply in this country, perhaps it is time to pull up the trees and sell off the cattle” Lott suggests. 

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