Tomatoes are the single most requested crop to grow in the Portable Farms™ Aquaponics Systems. The expected yields in this article are based on growth from a single Grow Tray (shown below) and are very conservative. They are based on the lowest yield per plant, the shortest harvest cycle and the longest time a plant will remain in the Grow Tray Table of the system. The actual production and yield is often two to four times the stated amounts in most cases especially after the operator becomes more skilled.
(Photo above) Each of these tomatoes weighs approximately 1/2 pound. We harvested them yesterday (February 1, 2012) from a Farms™ Aquaponics System. THEY ARE DELICIOUS.
If tomatoes from a Portable Farms™ Aquaponics Systems are planted, raised and sold as ‘organic,’ the grower can receive higher prices based on their organic origins further reducing the ROI than stated in this article.
Tomatoes from a single full size 5′ x 40′ (200 sq ft) [1.5m x 12m (18m2)] Grow Tray:
- Each Grow Tray Table can hold 200 plants (1ft or 30cm centers) and be planted twice per year
- Production (harvest time)Â is normally over a 60 to 85 day period
- Because the plants are very small when initially planted there is a three month growing period before harvest begins
- Staking or trellising is required and can be installed permanently
- Tomatoes yield is between 5 lbs and 9 lbs [2 and 4k] per plant depending on variety
- Yield per plant is 25 to 35 tomatoes per plant, depending on variety
- ‘Determinate’ tomato varieties are common in aquaponics due to space constraints but indeterminate tomatoes taste better and the plants can be pruned judiciously
- No pesticides, fungicides or artificial fertilizers are ever used
- Tomatoes can be harvested and used the same day for peak flavor and texture
- Yield is 880 lbs to 1,760lbs [400 to 800k] every six months
- Yield is 1,760 to 3,500lbs [800 to 1600k] per year
- Yield 55lbs [25k] per week
- PLUS 330lbs [150k] of Tilapia per year
Each Module contains one Grow Tray Table, one Fish Tank and one Clarifier. The components to make the Module functional also include a special pump and valve system, a control panel, air pumps and related hardware and wiring.
Each Module cost approximately US$4,000 completely installed. This does not include the growing medium, seeds or fish because the owner will be in charge of the seed variety and the fish will be procured locally at best prices. The number of Modules required will need to be housed in a climatically adapted greenhouse with one or more thermostatically controlled exhaust fans. In cold climates, more insulation is needed and in the tropics, the sides can be screen or netting.
By using the lowest yield with the shortest harvest season and two crops per space per year the Return On Investment will be approximately 55lbs per week at US$1.00 (very low price) or US$55.00 per week x 52 weeks = US$2,860 or a 1.4 year pay back. This does not include the greenhouse. In most cases this number will be much higher and will continue to rise as the operators become more skilled.
Please note: The above numbers are based on the lowest expected yields from field grown crops, using the shortest possible harvest time, plus the longest time from transplant to finish harvest. In other words, the lowest possible output from the Module for this crop is shown. The actual output from each Module can ,and probably will be, from two to four times as high resulting in a much shorter ROI.