Winnegance Oyster Farm is committed to testing and freely-sharing new sustainable aquaculture techniques. We hope to find ways to make farming less energy-intensive, quieter, friendlier to wildlife, and more productive for farmers.


Crop Shading to Prevent Algal Biofouling (2019)

    The removal of fouling is one of the greatest sources of labor on an oyster farm. Colonization of oyster farming equipment by algae and invertebrates reduces crop growth rates and can increase mortality. To address this problem many shellfish farmers have adopted floating cage designs that allow for periodic air drying as a fouling control. Though highly effective for controlling soft-bodied invertebrates (such as tunicates, worms, and larval forms of shellfish), it is much less useful for controlling macroalgae, which have evolved to tolerate periodic drying at low tides. Fouling by macroalgae can pose unique problems on a shellfish farm. It is quick-onset, fast growing, heavy/difficult to handle, resistant to common cleaning techniques, and can lead to the settlement of other fouling organisms.

    The natural distribution of many macroalgae are highly light dependent (with species tied to a specific depth and light-period). This project used cage-shading a means to prevent algal colonization of oyster cages by introducing dark conditions unfavorable to algal growth. Opaque-panel shades were highly effective at both preventing and removing algal fouling. Crop shading provides an environmentally-friendly, passive, and prophylactic approach to mitigating algal bio-fouling that has the potential to benefit all shellfish farmers using floating-cage systems, as well as other ocean-users and noise-sensitive wildlife.

Full report HERE

Funded by Northeast SARE (Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education)

Quahog Clam and American Oyster Polyculture (2017-Present)

   This ongoing research project tests crop diversification on existing oyster farms through the addition of a high-value crop species with different environmental needs (quahog clams). The pilot trial of this grow-out system has been run at Winnegance Oyster Farm since 2017 and now is now being tested at three additional farms as a part of a grant funded collaboration with Manomet.

   This system has the potential to increase crop yields without increasing farm footprint, produces a product with different susceptibility to disease and market conditions, and could provide large quahog seed for municipal shellfish programs and wild harvesters.

   Current work is focused on the determining effects of site/environmental conditions, improving nursery technique and pre-harvest handling, and identifying market opportunities.

2017 Project Report
2018 Project Report
Current collaborative work with Manomet

Maine explores potential for farming higher-value clam
Aquaculture North America, March 2020

Are littleneck clams the next frontier in aquaculture?
Portland Press Herald, May 2018

Funded by Northeast SARE and the national Seagrant program, in partnership with Manomet

Tidal Powered Cleaning and Tumbling

In 2016 we received a grant from the USDA's Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education program (SARE) to test two types of experimental oyster cages. The cages were designed to use tidal flow to clean and tumble oysters, automating one of the most labor, time, and cost intensive tasks on the farm. A full account of the project is posted HERE.

These projects were supported by the Northeast Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SARE) program. SARE is part of the National Institute of Food and Agriculture, U.S. Department of Agriculture.