BST Infrastructure – site under construction. No not the website but the oyster farm!
This is just a quick post to let everybody know that yes, we have finally started construction of the new oyster farm, and about time too as the new seed is due to arrive in the not too distant future.
As we have mentioned previously we are using an Australian culture method supplied by BST Oyster Supplies which is somewhat different to the standard French ‘Bag and Trestle’ method commonly used in Europe.
The BST system is a longline system and there is a significant upfront investment in building the infrastructure; the idea is that this shall pay back handsomely in the long term by providing flexibility and efficiency with lower cost and higher yield as opposed to traditional oyster growing methods. The following image displays a single growing structure referred to as a ‘quad’ because it is made up of four individual lines and these are what we are building on our farm lease.
So over the last few spring tidal cycles we have started putting in the BST infrastructure, that is the posts and lines that shall be used to suspend the shellfish, and at this point we have 3 lines of posts of the first quad completed.
Putting in the posts makes up the bulk of the work on the lease and timing is crucial. For us the most efficient and cost effective way to install the posts is to use a water pump. Basically while there is still a good depth of water, but not too much so that we can not get out of the boat, we redirect the output of a water pump and use this to force open the seabed. We then work the post into position and as the sand resettles it holds the post in place. When the tide goes out too far we either get on with other jobs, continue putting posts in by hand (back breaking) or wait for the tide to turn and catch it on the way in.
At the outset we decided that our farm was going to be serviced by boat, and although our boat is only small, this has proved to be the correct decision for this style of farming. From a logistics point of view trying to construct the farm without the boat would be a nightmare as we are using the boat to transport posts, we actually tow these over, to house the pump we use to install the posts and to store and keep dry all the tools we need while doing the work.
On reflection this has taken us a bit longer than expected as it is always difficult when you first start doing something new, it takes a bit of time to refine your approach but it pays to keep an open mind and remember that ‘every day is a school day’. We are now definitely getting more of a hand on it and have a few other tweaks we shall make to speed things along further.
The three lines of the first quad shall be sufficient to take new stock when it arrives and current trial oysters that we are still growing. Our aim is to build 4 quads this year as this should comfortably house all the stock as it grows bigger throughout the summer.
So it looks like we are going to be busy but the site is now under construction!