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Home  > Question of the Week

Question of the Week

Permalink Where can I find information about alligator farming?


Answer: Alligator farming is a dynamic industry, but one with an uncertain future. While it has the potential to be very profitable, it is also expensive to get into and very risky, because of the long time between capital investment and return on that investment.

Another important factor to consider is that alligator farming, trade, and products are highly regulated. Purchase and/or interstate transport of alligators may require an extensive permitting. Regulations differ for each state. For information on permits and regulations, please contact Scott Frazier, Georgia Department of Natural Resources, 2109 U.S. Highway 278 SE, Social Circle, GA 30025, or phone at 770-761-3044.

Commercial alligator production requires constant water and air temperature (about 89°F.) for the best growth. Daily flushing of housing water is needed to help carry away uneaten food and alligator wastes. Lagoons or septic tank systems are used to handle the waste water. It is best to get as much information on alligator production practices as possible before applying for your permits.

Listed below are several sources of more information about alligator production.


Anon. 2004. Alligator harvest update. 1 p.

Burtle, Gary. No date. Georgia aquaculture industry. 2 p.

Florida Department of agriculture and Consumer Services. 2002. Alligators – From endangered to abundance. Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services. 2 p.

Georgia Department of Natural Resources. 2004. Alligator hunting season for 2004. 5 p.

Lane, Thomas J., and Kathleen C. Ruppert. No date. Alternative opportunities for small farms: Alligator production review. University of Florida. RF-AC002. 3 p.

Lutx, C. Greg. 2003. Alligator industry profile. Iowa State University- Agricultural Marketing Resource Center. Sept. 8 p.

Masser, Michael P. 1993. Alligator Production - An Introduction. Southern Regional Aquaculture Center. Publication No. 230. 4 p.

Masser, Michael P. 1993. Alligator Production - Breeding and Egg Incubation. Southern Regional Aquaculture Center. Publication No. 231. 8 p.

Masser, Michael P. 1993. Alligator Production - Grow-out and Harvest. Southern Regional Aquaculture Center. Publication No. 232. 4 p.



Permalink Where can I find commercially-available natural sources of gibberellic acid-3 (GA-3)?


Answer: Gibberellic acid is produced by a process of fermentation wherein a pure strain of the fungus Gibberella fujikorai is cultured in vats, then extracted and purified to obtain GA-3. Several GA-3 sources are approved for organic production and listed on the OMRI Brand Name Products List (Crop Production Products; see Resources, below).

Without any further explanations or research into product sources, I alert you to the attached excerpts from the OMRI List that identifies product suppliers of GA-3.

Also of interest is the leaflet from J.L. Hudson Seedsman on GA-3. It provides interesting notes on the history and origin of GA-3, experimental design and recordkeeping, treatment methods, preparation, seed treatments, and views on its use in organic production.


Box 11558
Eugene, OR 97440

OMRI Brand Name Products List
Gibberellic acid kits and supplies

J.L. Hudson, Seedsman
Star Route 2, Box 337,
La Honda, CA 94002



Permalink Where can I get information about on-farm composting of fish wastes?


Answer: Fish wastes require special handling at the compost facility to avoid odors, pathogens, and pests such as flies, birds, and bears.

Most state environmental agencies regulate compost facilities (see below). See "Permit Requirements for Composting - Operations in Alaska" from Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation for details (also below). In addition, it may be helpful to review regulations and best management practices from other states in the planning stages of your composting operation.

For example, here a few key practices and management strategies that can be especially important in composting of fish wastes and related offals.

* A hard-surface compost pad that prevents percolation and runoff of compost leachates. Especially see the leaflet (below) on low-cost, lime-stabilized soil for use as a compost pad, from the USDA Animal Manure & By-Products Laboratory.
* Readily-available carbonaceous feedstocks (e.g., sawdust, leaves, shredded wood wastes) to immediately incorporate and cover incoming fish wastes.
* Commercial-scale equipment and composting processes to promote thermophilic composting and PFRPs, “processes to further reduce pathogens.”
* Microbial inoculants and topical deodorizers to control odors and flies and to facilitate bioremediation (e.g., Effective Microorganisms from EMRO-USA; GONE from R.B. Morris Co., Inc.; BAT products from RKB Enterprises, Inc.).
* Compost fleece blankets, also known as compost covers, to shed rainfall and prevent leaching, and to promote a protected environment conducive to microbial processes (e.g., TopTex, Compostex, and related brands available through Autrusa/Imants USA, Champlain Valley Compost Co., and Midwest Bio-Systems).
* Laboratory tests to verify no detectable pathogen levels in compost, as well as compost quality. See the ATTRA resource list titled Alternative Soil Testing Laboratories for details.


State Composting Regulations
McEntee Media Corporation: Recycling and Composting Online

Permit Requirements for Composting - Operations in Alaska
Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation

Making Lime-Stabilized Soil for Use as a Compost Pad
Lawrence J. Sikora and Harry Francis, USDA-ARS, Beltsville, MD and Consultant, Arlington, VA

Tucson, AZ
928-563-1037 FAX

R.B. Morris Co., Inc.


RKB Enterprises, Inc.
[Contact: Bob Broom]
625 Maury Ave.
Norfolk , VA 23517
757-640-0239 FAX
757-647-6052 Mobile

7 Autrusa/Imants USA
941 Perkiomenville Rd.
Perkiomenville , PA 18074
610-754-1112 FAX
Contact: George Leidig

Champlain Valley Compost Co.
245 Ten Stones Circle
Charlotte , VT 05445
802-425-5557 FAX
Contact: Steven Wisbaum

Midwest Bio-Systems
28933 35 E. Street
Tampico, IL 61283
815-438-7028 FAX
Contact: Edwin Blosser

Alternative Soil Testing Laboratories
ATTRA – National Sustainable Agriculture Information Service

Composting Seafood Waste Bibliography
Based on Ken Hilderbrand's bibliography, Seafood Waste Management (2001) Revised by Janet Webster and Judy Mullen, Oregon State University Libraries
Latest revision: September 2003

Information Note on the Composting of Organic Waste from Seafood Processing Bord Iascaigh Mhara, Irish Sea Fisheries Board
Infonote Series No. 2

On-Farm Composting of Fishery By-Products
Prince Edward Island Department of Agriculture and Forestry (PDF)

Diver, Steve. 2004. Supplemental Resources on Effective Microorganisms (EM) and Indigenous Microorganisms (IM). ATTRA – National Sustainable Agriculture Information Service, Fayetteville, AR.

Implementing Fishery-Based Compost Applications: The Next Step
Florida Sea Grant Extension Program (PDF)

See also:

1988 Composting Fish By-Products: A Feasibility Study. Co-author M.D. Seekins Maine Dept. Agric., Time & Tide RC&D, Waldoboro, ME

1991 Composting Seafood Processing By-products. Proceedings: Fishery By-Products Conference, Alaska Sea-Grant College, Anchorage, AK

1994 Evaluation of Farm plot Conditions and Effects of Composted Fish Scraps on Yield and Mineral Composition of Maize. Compost Sci. Land Util., Co-author, Milton D. Seekins

BC Agricultural Composting Handbook
British Columbia Ministry of Agriculture and Food (PDF)



Permalink Are there research reports available on crop response to hydrolyzed fish fertilizers, especially on pivot-irrigated rotational pastures?


Answer: Searching the Internet, the AGRICOLA bibliographical database, and the CAB Abstracts bibliographical database, you’ll see that very little has been published beyond a few horticultural studies on hydrolyzed fish, fish emulsion, and fish hydrolysate.

The most interesting and relevant research report is probably "Efficient Use of Organic Nitrogen Sources in Green Pepper," Organic Farming Research Foundation Research Report 98-04, published by Mark Gaskell, Farm Advisor, UC Cooperative Extension, Santa Maria, California. It provides a comparison of compost, pelletized chicken manure, fish meal, liquid fish, bloodmeal + feathermeal, feather meal, and seabird guano, and their effect on soil nitrate nitrogen and bell pepper yields. Further, it compares cost per pound of nitrogen supplied from each product, and also the "additional gross return on peppers per dollar cost of fertilizer."

Ther were no reports directly addressing the use of liquid fish fertilizers in agronomic crop and forage production.

Here are a few options to consider.

In the early phase of transition from chemical fertilizer-based farming to organic farming, it can be helpful to amend soils with compost at a high rate of application per acre; e.g., 5 to 10 tons per acre. Thereafter, a maintenance rate of compost at 3 to 5 tons per acre may be sufficient. These guidelines are more typical for cropland agriculture.

With rotational grazing, it can still be very helpful to make an initial application of compost to supply an organic soil amendment and assist with forage establishment. However, once rotational grazing is underway the system itself is capable of maintaining most or all of its needed nitrogen fertility through nutrient cycling, the use of legumes in the forage mix, and the deposition of urine and manure combined with stomping and mixing from hoof action. A soil test can provide guidance on any additional minerals that will need to be replenished through the use of rock phosphate fertilizer and so forth.

If you can obtain compost at a reasonable cost per acre, you will get greater benefit from a compost application than from liquid fish fertilizer. Another alternative to liquid fish fertilizer is compost tea.

Compost tea has three principle components: soluble nutrients, bioactive substances that promote plant growth, and beneficial microorganisms. Compost teas that are aerated and brewed with compost tea additives (e.g., molasses, kelp, yucca extract) are, essentially, a bioaugmentative input to enhance the beneficial microbial communities that inhabit the rhizosphere (soil root zone) and phyllosphere (plant leaf zone). In addition, compost teas can be made for less than fish fertilizer costs.

Finally, should you wish to explore the use of fish fertilizers as a fertigation input, use the manufacturer’s directions for application rates per acre.


Efficient Use of Organic Nitrogen Sources in Green Pepper
OFRF Research Report 98-04
Mark Gaskell, Farm Advisor, UC Cooperative Extension, Santa Maria, California

Marine By-Products as Fertilizers
David Chaney
Components Newsletter, UC-SAREP
Winter 1991 (v2n1)

Seafood Waste Management Bibliography
Ken Hilderbrand, Oregon State University




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