There are many abandoned shrimp ponds where I live. It seems I can’t walk the dog, drive or even fly without falling into one.
Many of the shrimp ponds in my area, by the looks of things have been abandoned for years, if not decades. It’s such a waste of what could potentially be regenerated land, something productive and beneficial for the local community as well as enriching the environment in many ways.
The problem with inland shrimp farming is the environmental damage they leave behind. The soil is contaminated with pesticides, antibiotics, effluent and has a high saline content.
I’ve often though how could these abandoned shrimp ponds be regenerated into productive land and used to grow food.
I’ve been natural farming now for a few short years. I’m by no way an expert of this topic but I have learned a tremendous amount of knowledge through trial and error as well as the continuous feedback from reading, doing, watching and tweaking.
I believe abandoned Thai shrimp farms can be regenerated into productive and diverse food farms using a combination of natural farming, permaculture and regenerative farming methods to create an wide variety of sustainable food crops.
My original plan was to buy a local abandoned shrimp pond and show by example the regeneration that could be achieved by implementing said permaculture principles. From experience, it’s near impossible to persuade the locals to do something different. Only by showing them results by example (or falling flat on my face) would win their hearts and minds.
My hope would be to inspire others to start their own projects across the Kingdom.
I’m only one man, and a foreigner in these here parts, so to find helping hands for this project I was going to invite members of the WWOOF community to help bring this project to life. Unfortunately, Covid-19 struck and no-one can travel, so that scuppered my plans.
So now, I’m just publishing my abandoned shrimp pond regeneration project below along with some of my research. I’d be interested to hear from anyone who is interested in such a project or has any experience or advice, especially if you are already in Thailand.
To reclaim an abandoned inland shrimp pond and change the saline composition of the soil to a ‘living’ medium able to sustain diverse crops using low/no investment/cost, sustainable practices and strategies based around permaculture, regenerative farming principles and the sufficiency economy philosophy (SEP) using animals, phytoremediation and halophyte plants in a closed loop system without chemical fertilisers.
Thailand has hundreds of thousands of hectares (6.25 rai per hectare) of unproductive, environmentally degraded, abandoned inland shrimp ponds ‘brownfields’ that could be brought back to life and provide local communities with more economic opportunities and wholesome organic food.
One remediated shrimp pond would provide all the fresh fruit and vegetables for an entire village, sustain the local economy and provide long-term food security.
All the local community could equitably own, manage and profit from this sustainable development model that could be easily replicated across the kingdom.
Integrating animals and introducing the right plants for the soil conditions while creating organic mass and living soils.
Soil samples should be taken before the project starts and continually before and after each rainy season to monitor the change in the soil with particular attention to saline (common method of measuring salinity is to determine the level of electrical conductivity (EC) within our soils) and heavy metals.
Additionally, a small area of the land should be set aside for ‘control’ purposes.
- Acquire abandoned shrimp pond
- Chop and drop all grasses and vegetation to provide sufficient access to the land.
- Divide the land into 4 quarters and introduce goats who will graze on the vegetation and in addition fertilise the ground, one section at a time for 6 to ten days, X 4 rotations
- Half each quarter of the land again and introduce chickens to scratch and turn the soil in addition to adding more natural fertiliser x 2 to 4 rotations.
- Start a compost pile.
- Introduce raised beds and soak aways.
- Mulch the gardens with organic matter, rice husks, straw, wood chips and coconut coif etc.
- Apply Fermented Plant Juice (anaerobic compost tea), Azolla and LAB to garden soil.
- Raise rabbits for another natural fertilizer and weed control.
- Plant halophyte plants, Sesbania, Kallar Grass, brassica (mustards, kale and cabbages) parsnips/potatoes/sugar beets, barley, sunflowers, hemp, neem, dokair, bamboo balcooa and coconut trees.
- Introduce vermiculture
- Introduce more fruit trees and grow vegetables on raised beds.
NOTE: No burning of organic material, no pesticides, herbicides, hormones or antibiotics should ever be used. 100% natural farming methods to build regenerative living soil. Working with nature, rather than against it.
- Eggs, goat’s milk, meat
- lots of compost
- Sustainable communities
- Low/no tech
- Low/no investment
- Food security
Like this project? Want to get involved? Contact me here.
NOTES & REFERENCES
A Study of Aquaculture Brownfields: Abandoned and Converted Shrimp Ponds in Thailandhttp://pdacrsp.oregonstate.edu/pubs/workplns/wp_10/10GISR1.html
Changes in soil properties of abandoned shrimp ponds in southern Thailand https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/11893160/
Reclamation of abandoned shrimp pond soils in southern Thailand for cultivation of Mauritius grass (Brachiaria mutica) https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/12971255/
The effects of gypsum and mulch applications on reclamation parameters and physical properties of an alkali soil https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/29770890/
The effect of chemical and organic amendments on sodium exchange equilibria in a calcareous sodic soil https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/26452507/
Desodification from calcareous saline sodic soil through phytoremediation with Phragmites australis (Cav.) Trin. ex Steud. and gypsum https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/28532163/
Phytoremediation of Saline Soils for Sustainable Agricultural Productivity https://www.researchgate.net/publication/226819011_Phytoremediation_of_Saline_Soils_for_Sustainable_Agricultural_Productivity
5 Best Plants For Phytoremediation https://land8.com/5-best-plants-for-phytoremediation/
Long-Term Phytoremediation of Coastal Saline Soil Reveals Plant Species-Specific Patterns of Microbial Community Recruitment https://msystems.asm.org/content/5/2/e00741-19#:~:text=The%20plant%20species%20used%20for,nutrients%20(15%2C%2016).
Phytoremediation Database https://www.agronomy.k-state.edu/extension/environmental-quality/phytoremediation.html
Screening bamboo species for salt tolerance using growth parameters, physiological response and osmolytes accumulation as effective indicators https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/02757540.2018.1427227
Listing of Halophytes & Salt-Tolerant Plants http://www.biosalinity.org/salt-tolerant_plants.htm
Halophytes offer hope for farmers https://www.bangkokpost.com/business/666928/halophytes-offer-hope-for-farmers
The Role Of Gypsum In Agriculture: 5 Key Benefits You Should Know https://www.croplife.com/crop-inputs/micronutrients/the-role-of-gypsum-in-agriculture-5-key-benefits-you-should-know/
The effect of salinity on the growth, water status, and ion content of a leaf succulent perennial halophyte, Suaeda fruticosa (L.) Forssl https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0140196399906171
Bambusa balcooa https://www.guaduabamboo.com/blog/bambusa-balcooa
Screening of Bamboo genotypes for salt tolerance using growth performance and osmolytes accumulation as indicators https://worldbamboo.net/wbcx/Powerpoints/Propagation,%20Plantations,%20Forestry/ScreeningGenotypesSaltTolerance_AnushaPulavarty.pdf
Water based project – AZOLLA FARMING as green fertilizer and livestock feed. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_34-z49tQYE
Why is Azolla unique? http://theazollafoundation.org/azolla/the-azolla-anabaena-symbiosis-2/
Adaptation of exotic Azolla to tropical environment of Thailand https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/BF02370100
Azolla pinnata (PROSEA) https://uses.plantnet-project.org/en/Azolla_pinnata_(PROSEA)
Regenerating Abandoned Shrimp Ponds in Thailand