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.


Field Testing the Viability of 3D-printed Oyster Farm Equipment (ongoing)

This project will build and field-trial 3D printed oyster bags made from four different materials in order to test their suitability for prototyping experimental sea farming equipment.

Product Differentiation on a Subtidal Oyster Farm (2021)

   This project aimed to help sea farmers diversify their offerings by using a variety of oyster growing techniques to produce distinct products on a single site. Four types of equipment/handling were tested (lantern nets, floating tube cages, “straddled” oyster bags, and traditional floating oyster cages) each with differing exposure to depth, wave action, light, and food-sources. Oyster dimensions, appearance, meat quality, and flavor were measured over the course of the growing season. 

A straddle-bag grown oyster

December size distribution

A lantern net grown oyster

    After four months there was little consistent difference in shell or meat appearance (though there were differences in size and degree of variability within treatments).

   After a additional 2.5 months, oysters grown in bags straddled on top of oyster cages developed a distinctive smooth shelled appearance and noticeably higher salinity than oysters in other treatments, providing a potential second variety for the farm in the fall.


Salinity of "liquor" in shells

Quahog Clam and American Oyster Polyculture (2017-2021)

   This project tested 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 starting in 2017 and has 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

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

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 as 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)

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.