Origins of Aquaponics

Origins of Aquaponics
– by Colle and Phyllis Davis

WATERBLUEFISH2

 

Portable Farms® Aquaponics Systems are easier and more productive than dirt gardening or traditional agriculture and uses less water, less electricity and less labor than any other aquaponics system in the world.

Please note that aquaponics does not grow ‘field crops’ such as rice, wheat, corn or root vegetables, but it DOES grow table greens and many blooming plants (not all, but some) such as tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers and beans.

Aquaponics with Portable Farms® Aquaponics Systems 

— Build, own and operate your own backyard aquaponics system.

— Feed a family of eight year round with one module of Portable Farms® Aquaponics System.

— Start a commercial aquaponics installation by installing
twenty to thirty modules and sell the food you grow.

The Portable Farms® Aquaponics Systems duplicate what nature has been doing for billions of years. The water, containing the fish waste, is pumped out of the fish tanks to a settling tank, where the solids settle to the bottom of the tank while the nutrient-rich water then flows, by gravity, through a series of trays where the plants are growing, and then back into the fish tanks. The small amount of separated fish-waste water in the settling tank is drained off at regular intervals, and can be used to fertilize crops such as trees, ornamentals or lawns. The cycle of the water flowing through the system repeats itself several times each day. Some make-up water has to be added at regular intervals to compensate for the water used in the settling tank cleaning, and for the water used by the plants for growth (transpiration). And, that’s how the system works. Simple, elegant and with very little energy to produce high quantities of locally grown food.

Learn more about owning your own Portable Farms® Aquaponics System

Aquaponics has been explored for several decades as a possible solution to the foregoing environmental, energy and food shortage problems.  Aquaponics combines the art of growing aquatic animals (fish), known as aquaculture, with the modern technology of hydroponics in which plants are grown without soil. In aquaponics, fish and plants are grown together in an integrated closed loop re-circulating system with a very low rate of water usage or water loss due to evaporation. This symbiotic relationship between the fish and the growing plants is the goal of aquaponics by creating a sustainable ecosystem in which both fish and plants can thrive and as a result, produces safe, fresh protein and healthy vegetables.

To work efficiently, Portable Farms® Aquaponics Systems require ‘warm water, fresh water fish’ of some kind to provide the essential waste and their nutrients for your plants. Generally, aquaponics systems use warm-water fish instead of cold-water fish (like trout) because the plants don’t like the cold water.

Aquaponics is the growing of fish, or other water-based animals, along with land plants in a controlled environment, to maximize the use of the energy and nutrients in the system in order to harvest the greatest amount of vegetables and fish protein from the system.

The word aquaponics comes from words aquaculture, which is the cultivation of fish or other `water- based animals, and the word hydroponics, where plants are grown in a sterile medium or completely in water.

By combining the fish, water and plants, Portable Farms® Aquaponics Systems use an integrated environment to produce vegetables and fish in very small space, with very little water.

Aquaponics has its roots in ancient China and parts of the aquaponics system were developed in other areas of the world where high concentrations of people lived who were observant of the relationships that existed naturally in their environment.

In China, farmers knew that land livestock waste could be added to their fields or ponds to increase production of vegetables and fruit bearing plants. They also noticed that different fish had different tolerances to the level of land-animal waste in their water. For example too much pig or chicken waste caused many fish to die (the modern explanation for this is lack of oxygen) so they were careful about balancing their system for maximum yield and minimum fish loss.These Chinese farmers were able to refine their systems so they could grow chickens in pens above pigs, (with the waste dropping through along with any spilled food) who were in a pen over a pond with carp in it, and then the water flowed to another pond with other less tolerant fish such as catfish, and perhaps other aquatic animals and certainly other water plants were grown and harvested. These systems were so called flow-through systems, meaning that water was used once through the ponds, and then released to the local paddies, streams, lakes or ocean. The sludge from the bottom of the ponds was used on the fields and some of the water was used in the paddies for fertilizer before it was released.

dry-riverbedIn the twenty-first century, the world faces an environmental crisis, issues related to climate change (drought and flooding as well as record-setting heat waves) and an energy crisis. In addition, many parts of the world face severe food shortages. Twentieth century agricultural techniques have harmed the environment and consume an inordinate amount of energy and water. Many countries lack the large amounts of arable land and water needed to sustain growing human populations. Developed nations use large amounts of pesticides and artificial fertilizers to grow their grains, fruits, and vegetables. At the same time, they use huge amounts of gasoline and diesel fuel to power their farm machinery, large amounts of electricity to process their food, and enormous amounts of fuel to deliver the processed food to grocery stores. The raising of farm animals, particularly cattle and swine, is notoriously inefficient in terms of the amount of land and energy required to raise corn and other animal feed for each pound of protein produced.

Many areas of the world, such as California, require elaborate and expensive aqueducts and irrigation systems to deliver potable water to farming regions. A tremendous amount of fresh water evaporates or is otherwise wasted with conventional farming methods. Third world countries often lack the financial resources, arable land and technology to produce sufficient food, and in particular enough protein to maintain the health of their human populations. There are also health concerns raised by humans consuming pesticide residues on fruits and vegetables and hormones in chicken, pork and beef. Wild birds and animals are adversely affected by pesticide and fertilizer. Local waters (ponds, rivers, and streams) are also polluted by the runoff from the pesticides and fertilizers used for local growing.

Therefore, there is a need to promote a new “green” method of farming around the world for ‘locally grown food’ in any region to produce healthier food that requires far less land and water, and at the same time, is environmentally friendly:

•             Eliminates the need or use of artificial chemicals

•             Provides sustainability for people locally

•             Substantially reduces energy consumption for planting, harvesting and shipping food, and greenhouse gas emissions.

•             Also, provides jobs for local people strengthening the local economy.

farmnewsletter aquaponicsAquaponics has been explored for several decades as a possible solution to the foregoing environmental, energy and food shortage problems.  Aquaponics combines the art of growing aquatic animals (fish), known as aquaculture, with the modern technology of hydroponics in which plants are grown without soil. In aquaponics, fish and plants are grown together in an integrated closed loop re-circulating system with a very low rate of water usage or water loss due to evaporation. The fish waste (effluent) produced by the fish is delivered from the fish tank to a settling tank to remove the heavy ‘waste’ and then sent to the grow trays to provide a food source for growing plants in the gravel and the plants provide a natural filter for the water that keeps the fish healthy. This symbiotic relationship between the fish and the growing plants is the goal of aquaponics by creating a sustainable ecosystem in which both fish and plants can thrive and as a result, produces safe, fresh protein and healthy vegetables.

Aquaponics systems heretofore developed have not met with widespread success. Previously, aquaponics systems have been complex and labor intensive to operate, difficult to construct because to date, there has been no standard design that has proven itself to be easy to operate, and they are often poorly constructed with inferior materials requiring constant attention to leaks, challenges for disposal of the fish waste, and careful maintenance of pH levels, micronutrient depletion and water temperature. They have also been expensive in terms of the pumps and other electrical equipment required. In addition, prior aquaponics systems have been difficult to maintain and are prone to catastrophic system failures such as death of the fish and plants due to design flaws in the actual aquaponics system.

PFAS LLC and Portable Farms® Aquaponics Systems have evaluated and resolved the major stumbling blocks (mentioned above) to such a degree that they can be successfully operated by semi-skilled labor to produce healthy vegetables and fish to sustain families, communities and countries.

 

Solar Aquaponics – The Future of Growing

Solar Aquaponics, – The Future of Growing
– by Colle and Phyllis Davis

solar system

Heat and light are the heart-and-soul of aquaponics after the water, plants and fish are in place.

Here we have to make a couple of assumptions about your current or planned solar powered aquaponics system: 1) the constant aeration pump and the circulation pump requirements have already been planned for and 2) calibrated against the output of the system.

Now let’s bring the other two CEA (Controlled Environment Agriculture) elements to your aquaponics system by adding:

  1. Grow lights – not expensive, easily available and need more power than a single deep cycle battery can supply
  2. Heat for the fish tank – less expensive, easy to install and, yes that second battery is necessary.

The grow lights require a converter to up the voltage from 12vdc to 110 or 220vac and this step takes power and additional components. (There are 12v florescent lights, but they have a long way to go to be effective.) You may already use a converter to run you water pump and if so make sure you upgrade to enough watts to handle all of the current draw on your system.

sun symbol from color splashes and line brushesThe rule of thumb (green or not) is that plants need to have full spectrum lighting or special growing lights in a density sufficient to grow and be healthy. We have successfully used the guideline of one, four tube 4’ T8 Super-sunlight fixture per 2m or 6’ of grow tray length. These fixtures, including bulbs, are less than US$80 almost everywhere in the world. The 32watt tubes times 4 tubes means each fixture requires 128watts of power per hour for up to 4 hours per day. (Indoor growing has a very different time frame and cost.) To translate this to power usage: There needs to be 128watts x hours of use = watts per hour requirements from your solar electrical system. We started with one deep cycle marine battery and found very quickly that a second matching battery was needed to operate the grow lights for three hours per day over the six months of short days.

Here are the components you will need (assuming you are using an existing solar electrical system) to ‘go solar’ with your grow lights:

  1. A second matching battery
  2. An 800watt converter – 12vdc to 110 or 220vac (this is for one grow light fixture)
  3. One Super-sunlight T8 four tube fixture or similar per 2m (6’) of grow tray length
  4. Mounting hardware for above the trellises

These will cost in the range of US$300 to US$400.

Now for the heating system:

In most aquaponics systems, the fish tank is or can be plastic or a heavy rubberized food-grade material. (Please do not use galvanized steel because the zinc will leach into the water and is harmful to both fish and plants.) With a fish tank made of these materials you can add a thermostatically controlled heating system for under US$100, extra battery not included. Most warm water, fresh water fish do very well at between 75 and 80° F (25 to 27° C).

solar panelUsing a 12vdc heating element and a thermostat to keep the water in the fish tank within a desired range will contribute both to your production and your peace of mind. In colder climates the fish tank needs to be heavily insulated, especially the bottom and top. Placing the heating element near the aerators also helps to distribute the heat within the tank.

Here is the list of components to ‘go solar’ with the fish tank heater:

  1. 300 watt 12vdc heater element
  2. Thermostat/relay to control the heating element
  3. Adapter to mount heating element into side of fish tank (may not be necessary)

Yes, that is the list of components. Please note the adaptor, if needed, is a multipart component that may require some slight modifications to work in your situation.

The heating element is mounted in a hole you have cut in the side of the fish tank. (please drain the tank to below the hole FIRST.) The components for the adaptor are available at hardware and home centers in the plumbing section.

solar panel and clarThe thermostat is mounted near or on the top of outside of the tank and the sensor is fastened to the OUTSIDE of the tank about half way up the side and covered with insulating material. The sensor does not need to be in the water and fastening it to the outside of the tank reduces its exposure to the water and fish.

Here’s information about the wiring: The positive (+) wiring is from the battery bank (+) terminal to the thermostat then to the heating element. The negative or neutral wire goes from the battery bank (-) terminal to the heating element.

With the lights and/or the heating element(s) in place your solar electric system may or may not carry the load. Keep a close eye on its performance. Suggestion: The solar panel needs to be at least a 100w panel and the MPPT (charge controller) able to handle 20 amp loads. Upgrading either component will increase the cost. If you have not yet purchased your solar panels, opt for a minimum of 100watts and better 200watts.

A solar power system with a 200w panel, an MPPT that can handle 20amps and two deep cycle batteries will normally support a properly constructed and insulated single fish tank system including the grow lights even in extreme climates.

Send us pictures of your installations so we can brag on you.

Warehouse Aquaponics? Yes, Here’s How . . .

Warehouse Aquaponics with Portable Farms®? Yes, Here’s How . . .
– by Colle and Phyllis Davis

We cracked the code so you make money faster and easier and with LOWER ELECTRICAL COSTS to increase your ROI for warehouse aquaponics! You’re welcome.

Those huge empty warehouses seem to be begging to be repurposed again in some productive and sustainable way. The enclosed space runs from tens of thousands to millions of square feet of usable space. There must be some way to turn that empty space into a money maker.

How about making this available warehouse space into a huge aquaponics setup using some special grow lights to grow plants? It sounds so reasonable and straightforward. Every week PFAS LLC receives requests from all over the world from those interested in making use of abandoned warehouses in their area. They dream of converting the interior space of warehouses into a high-intensity food production facility to grow, sell and distribute food locally and make lots of money. 

Below is the process that nearly all warehouses must go through in order to be ready for Portable Farms® Aquaponics Systems:

  1. Obtain the use of the building through leasing or purchase or whatever means of legal transfer is required to secure the right to use the space.
  2. Obtain the necessary permits to make changes to the electrical, HVAC, surface water diversion, sewage hook ups and security systems. This may also require a zoning change.
  3. Permission from Fish and Wildlife Department in the local jurisdiction.
  4. Permission from the electrical utility to ‘up the load coverage’ to keep the grow lights on.
  5. A thorough cleaning. Steam cleaning and even sand blasting walls and floors may be necessary to make the space clean and usable for growing plants and fish.
  6. Painting all surfaces and using an epoxy coating on the floors.
  7. Replacing or updating the entire HVAC system.
  8. Installing an effective grow light system first before installing the aquaponics’ Modules.

 

Aquaponics in COLD Climates WORKS GREAT!

Aquaponics in COLD Climates
– by Colle and Phyllis Davis

greenhouse snowThe key to the success of aquaponics in cold climates is the climatically adapted structure housing the installation.

In tropical and warm climate installation, less planning and careful construction are required for success, but even in very cold climates, aquaponics can be very productive. It is the extra attention to details including insulation, heating, ventilation and backup or duplication of the electrical power that ensure success.

First, here’s some information regarding insulation. It is much easier to HEAT up space than to COOL it off. The laws of physics are in play here. Heat moves to areas where there is less heat or lack of heat. To create an insulated space and keep the air temperature inside that space at a reasonable level is easily accomplished and has been done for centuries. Today, the use of high R factor insulation, excellent sealing, and wind-proofing can produce a space with a very high R factor which means very little additional energy is needed to heat the space.

farm 8 18 2012The other benefit of the Portable Farms® Aquaponics Systems is their wide range of temperature tolerance. Space at the Grow Table level needs to stay in the range of 45 to 104° F (6 to 40° C). The Fish Tank is heated to a constant temperature and helps maintain the temperature inside through the timing of the water cycles. ­

Heating the space can be as simple as adding a small space heater that is placed on the floor. It can be electrical, propane, city gas or even fuel oil powered. Exhaust from combustion needs to be vented as in living space. There are installations measuring 20’ x 36’ (6 x 11m) in Minnesota that only require a small thermostatically controlled electrical heater to keep the space above 45 degrees. There are larger installations in Wisconsin, Oregon and New York heated with wood-burning stoves. These stoves are a lot more work, but work they do in producing great vegetables.

Even in cold climate installations, ventilation of the space must be addressed to reduce humidity and pockets of stale air. Every installation requires a small circulating fan to mix the air and ensure the air is moving. This air movement helps the pollination of the flowering plants (for example, tomatoes) and keeps any dampness at bay. Venting the air to the outside in very cold weather is seldom necessary. The smart method of having a growing space in cold climates is to attach the greenhouse to your house. The heat from the house helps temper the air in the greenhouse, and the plants give much-needed moisture to the winter air in the house.

Cold climate aquaponics does require more planning, better and more careful construction and the added expense of the backup heating and power requirements. Now is the time to plan, construct and begin to enjoy aquaponics no matter where you live.

Feeding the Hungry with Portable Farms®

Feeding the Hungry with Portable Farms®
– by Colle and Phyllis Davis

In today’s world of chaos, fear, hunger, poverty, dishonesty and crushing bureaucracy, there is a way to help those as close as your family or as inclusive as your community or even a larger section of the earth by installing an aquaponics system. Now you or your organization can really make a difference in people’s lives, forever, by feeding people and providing employment to those who need it most.

Our article on the Portable Farms® website, Feeding a Family of Five, went around the world in 24 hours and drew interest from readers in over 140 countries. After all, our loyal readers are looking for immediate solutions to their own food needs. They want to avoid worrying about the cost of food, relying on coupons, tainted food, and staying current on sales from local grocery stores; they’re interested in creating a never-ending supply of fresh, pesticide free food near their kitchen so they never have to buy their table vegetables at their grocery store again, EVER.

Please note: The majority of the food grown in Portable Farms® that is not consumed by the owners MUST be sold and not given away to those in need. Why? Because the focus of donor funding always shifts, over time, to various causes and if (for whatever reason) the funders or donors who are supplying the money for the ongoing costs of labor, water, electricity, etc., required to operate a Portable Farm decide to reallocate that funding to another cause, the aquaponics system will eventually fail. While good deeds are encouraged in the world, nothing (not even funding) lasts forever. However, if food grown in Portable Farms® is SOLD to pay the necessary operating expenses for the Portable Farm, the operation has a chance for long-term survival in that community.

The question we have received most often about community aquaponics installations is:  “How can a larger group use an aquaponics system to become more locally self reliant?”

Here is our answer: “By using the same formula of 25 sq ft to feed one adult, any group can sit down and figure out what size system they need to feed their members or target audience. For example, if a group wants to feed 240 people, they would need 6,000 square feet of grow space which fits perfectly into a 10,000 sq ft greenhouse in ¼ acre. That will provide them with most of their table vegetables and fish, a regular source of healthy protein, forever. It would not include root vegetables like potatoes. carrots nor legumes and grains.”

If your organization is focused on ways to help the children in your community or somewhere else in the world, the same formula can be applied. In many cases, part of that help can also include jobs for their parents and help teach the children about ‘the cycle of life’ and the value and benefits of healthy nutritional habits. 

A religious organization can very easily address the needs of their congregation or a target group that they are assisting by using the same ‘people to grow space’ formula. For a group of one hundred persons in need, a PFAS Unit containing only 4,000 sq ft of enclosed space will do the job. That is a greenhouse only 50 x 80 feet. Nearly every religious organization has that much space in their parking lot or in an open area next to their main church building. This size will provide all of the table vegetables and some of the fish needs for the 100 people or it will also help supplement the needs of nearly twice that many people.

Community groups can also start a locally supported installation and be able to leverage their resources to a much greater degree with an investment in a permanent food-production facility run by local semi-skilled labor. The opportunity to serve the community and actually have the system help pay for itself over time is a huge advantage over nearly any other source of food items. Plus, it offers employment to a few of the locals ‘in need’ for a permanent full time job.

Even nonprofit organizations can step in and serve their community in a way that outlasts the original donor’s money. By using donor money, they can erect one or more Units, perhaps under the name of the donor, and the system becomes an income-generating fixture to the organization, or at least self sustaining investment, as it serves the target group. Even programs that are designed to provide ‘in-home help’ can benefit from having an aquaponics system on site or close by to provide food for the recipients.

For those who wish to give to, and to support those who are less fortunate, our aquaponics systems are a way to leverage their giving. By setting up a foundation or charity which actually owns the installations, an individual, or family, or organization can dramatically impact the lives of those they wish to help and insure their money is put to work doing the most possible good.

 


Fill & Drain vs. Raft Aquaponics

Fill & Drain vs. Raft Aquaponics
– by Colle and Phyllis Davis

portable-farms-commercial-greenhouse-growingThe Portable Farms® Aquaponics Systems are ideally designed for community aquaponics growing.

One acre of land can accommodate 120 Portable Farms® Aquaponics Systems’ modules installed in four separate greenhouses housing 30 modules each to grow 320,000 vegetables and 92,000 pounds of fish which will feed 960 people all the food they need to be healthy FOREVER. Plus, it only takes 12 people to operate a full acre.

Many large aquaponics installations are designed on the ‘Virgin Island model.’ They are a raft system using a single large fish tank, heavy-duty pumps and filters, and long-shallow grow tanks where the rafts are gradually pushed from one end to the other as the plants mature. By moving the plants several times as they mature, the actual yield-per-square-foot of surface area is very high.

Let’s look at how the raft systems are designed: 

  • The fish tank(s) is very large, often thousands of gallons and the water is moved constantly by a single heavy duty pump from the fish tank to some sort of bio filter or filtration system.
  • The water often goes through an aeration system because the water flowing to the plants growing in the rafts need to have a very high oxygen content in the water for their roots or they will die.
  • The water is then returned to the fish tank with the nutrients stripped out and depleted in oxygen.

The weak points of this type of system are as follows:

  • There is a single large pump the controls the water flow out of the fish tank and if it fails, the fish die.
  • The water at the end of the grow tanks needs to be lifted back up into the fish tank, this involves more pumping and the pumps can fail.
  • The bio filter must be cleaned daily, or the waste will overwhelm the system and poison the plants.
  • The plants are handled several times, first planted in some type of pot or medium, transplanted to a wider spacing, transplanted at least once more to their final raft and finally harvested.
  • The system requires a very large amount of water to start and consumes large amounts of water because the fish tank is open on top and evaporation is taking place.
  • The filtration system has also exposed the water to the air and evaporation takes place.
  • Only small leafy vegetables can be raised in this system (mostly lettuce and basil).
  • The raft system works, and it works very well. It requires more water, more power and more labor to operate than the medium-based systems (gravel grow beds).

Portable Farms® Aquaponics Systems use a fill and drain, medium based system. Here is how this system works:

  • grow tray 2013aEach module is a standalone system with the fish tank, clarifier and grow tray working together.
  • There is no limit to the number of modules in an installation (example, 30 modules fit into a 10,000 sq foot greenhouse).
  • The maximum amount of water in each tank is 400 gallons.
  • The maximum number of fish in each tank is 400.
  • The ‘bio filter’ is in two parts, the clarifier and the huge gravel bed. The clarifier only needs to be cleaned every two to four months and the gravel NEVER needs to be cleaned.
  • The water is lifted one time (requiring electricity) using a small pump and the rest of the time it is flowing downhill back to the fish tank (gravity and flow).
  • The plants are handled three times. For greens, the seeds are planted into inert cubes, the seedlings/cubes are planted into the gravel and then at harvest time the entire plant is removed.
  • Tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, eggplant, green beans, peas and other flowering plants can be grow in great quantities and harvested over time.
  • Two full time employees are required for each 10,000 sq ft installation and most of their time is taken up with harvesting and planting, not moving and transplanting seedlings.
  • IF the electrical power fails to the entire system, it is designed so well that the fish will survive 12 full hours without aeration and the plants can go a full 24 hours on the residual water in the gravel. That is a HUGE safety factor.
  • If an individual pump fails it has no effect on the rest of the installation, only that particular module.
  • Not transplanting is required.

The differences are also reflected in the water and electrical usage:

  • A raft system uses over 15 times as much water initially, and requires four-to-ten-times as much makeup water as the PFAS commercial installation.
  • The raft system has more than one single point of failure and the PFAS has no single point of failure for an installation only in each module.
  • The electrical power requirements are four to six times higher in the raft system compared to the fill and drain medium based systems.

Bottom line: Portable Farms® Aquaponics Systems are ideally designed for community aquaponics growing. One acre of land can accommodate four Portable Farms® that grow 320,000 vegetables and 92,000 pounds of fish which will feed 960 people all the food they need to be healthy FOREVER. Plus, it only takes 8 people to operate a full acre. For more information on the Portable Farms® Aquaponics Systems contact us today.


Before and After Photos – 40 Days Growth in a Portable Farm

Before and After Photos – 40 Days Growth in a Portable Farm
– by Colle and Phyllis Davis


This small Portable Farms® Aquaponics System feeds TEN adults . . . FOREVER.
The greenhouse (below) is 16′ x 33′ (528 square feet) and contains 264 square feet of Grow Tray space.

CLICK HERE for images of What You Can Grow

 

PFAS LLC  is proud to show you Before and After Photos highlighting the 40-day progress of our Portable Farms® Aquaponics System constructed in our Experimental and Research Center in San Diego, California.

CLICK HERE to Feed 8 People FOREVER in ONE 40′ Grow Tray!

Because of improvements in our seed choices, planting methods and technology, our farm is exploding with fresh food after only 40 days. The 400 tilapia fish in this system know our voices and ‘frenzy’ when we walk into the farm (a good sign because a happy fish eats well and POOPS A LOT and that’s the fertilizer for our plants). In case you didn’t know it, the Aquaponists’ Daily Prayer is, “PRAY FOR POOP.”

BEFORE: Gravel Grow Trays in a Portable Farms® Aquaponics System with Colle Davis, Inventor, Portable Farms® Aquaponics Systems before planting

AFTER: 40 Days After Planting with Colle Davis, Inventor, Portable Farms® Aquaponics Systems. Many green leafy organic vegetables are already READY TO HARVEST and other blooming plants already have blossoms and are ready to produce organic fruit or vegetables after only 40 days (such as tomatoes, peppers, green beans, zucchini, and cucumbers). Portable Farms grow enormous amounts of healthy, organic, nutritious food in small spaces.


One single leaf of an organic zucchini plant measured after 40 days of growth in Gravel Grow Tray = 10.5 inches wide

Height of the same organic zucchini plant (above) after 40 days growth in a Gravel Grow Tray = 20.5 inches tall

Organic India Mustard plant (a spicy lettuce) after 40 days in the Gravel Grow Trays = 19 inches tall

Organic Cos Romaine Lettuce after 40 days of growth in a Gravel Grow Tray = 12.5 inches tall

We’re growing a variety of organic seeds in each of these categories in this farm:

  • Basil
  • Swiss Chard
  • Kale
  • Cucumbers
  • Mustard Greens (what we call Wasabi Lettuce – hot hot hot)
  • Dozens of varieties of Lettuce
  • Peppers
  • Tomatoes
  • India Mustard
  • Long Green Beans
  • Dozens of varieties of Asian greens
  • Boc Choi
  • A variety of herbs

Rent a Greenhouse for a One Year Return-on-Investment


Rent a Greenhouse for a One Year Return-on-Investment

– by Colle and Phyllis Davis

Rent a greenhouse instead of building one for your commercial aquaponics system and get a one year return on your investment.

In Southern California (obviously, a biased sampling) the cost to lease a greenhouse of 25,000 to 75,000 sq ft is from US$1,500 to US$3,000 TOTAL.

GreenhouseLet’s do the math and see how this investment pencil’s out:

A very solid rule of thumb on the cost of a PFAS Module which includes the grow trays, the fish tanks and all of the related lumber, pipe, liner and the PFAS Kit, is US$2,100 per Module. A 10,000 sq ft installation will contain 28 to 32 Modules depending on the specifics of the layout.

Multiply the cost per Module US$2,100 times the maximum number of Modules 32 and your install cost becomes US$67,000. Then comes the greenhouse. [This cost is normally THE most expensive part of an aquaponics installation.] Let’s use a three year lease and figure the ROI on the yearly maximum rate of US$2,000 for a 10,000 sq ft greenhouse or US$24,000.

You still have labor, electricity, fish, seeds and misc and these total approximately US$80,000 per year. These figures are San Diego, California figures, California labor costs, San Diego Gas and Electric power costs and the local water district water costs (not inexpensive).

First Year Expenses (Averages)
  • Your first year investment will include the cost of building the Modules    
US$67,000
  • The total operating costs                                                                                            
US$80,000
  • Rental on the greenhouse
$24,000
  • First year total
US$171,000

 

The gross income based on a mixed production of both greens and fruiting plants such as tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers and beans is approximately US$185,000 of income per year resulting in a net-net income of approximately US$80,000 per year.  Specialty or custom ordered vegetables dramatically impact this figure on the high side. For example if all basil were grown the income would almost quadruple to over US$600,000. Cucumbers are even better producers, but remember, these specialty crops and are NOT high volume crops.

These figures show a total payback over slightly over two years. US$80,000 x 2 years = US$160,000. Oh, wait, the initial capital investment was less then US$100,000 so the real payback is in a little over ONE YEAR.

Now look at the third year numbers. There are operating costs and rental costs, that’s it. The output has increased approximate 20% as the system ages and cures so using the initial income of US$185,000 and not the US$220,000 (the 20% increase) it will really be producing,  your US$80,000 per year (or US$116,000 with the increase in production) is now pure profit. Almost enough for some people to live on comfortably.

Contact us today for specifics, but first read Commercial Aquaponics and have two items is place, 1) your money or your investors money to cover the project’s cost, 2) a location to build your PFAS Modules so you can be in business in less than six months.  Remember, we even train your operators, guarantee our systems and are here to help.

 


Grow and Sell Food with Commercial Aquaponics

Grow and Sell Food with Commercial Aquaponics 

Now is the time to install a Portable Farms Aquaponics System. 

Lettuce grown in Portable Farms using 95% water than traditional agriculture.

COMMERCIAL AQUAPONICS IS TRENDING 2018

 

Aquaponics 
Dan Burden, AgMRC Content Specialist

D. Allen Pattillo, Department of Natural Resources Ecology & Management, Iowa State University; North Central Regional Aquaculture Center (NRAC)

This closed-loop system has many advantages over conventional “open-loop” crop production systems:

  • It uses approximately 10% of the land area and 5% of the water volume required by conventional vegetable crops.

  • Due to less water and land use, aquaponics is perfect for highly efficient use of existing space or for special applications like intensive urban gardening.

  • Crop production time can be accelerated.  For example, butterhead lettuce varieties can be produced in about 30 days, instead of the typical 60-day growing period needed for conventional production.

  • Production can occur year-round under a greenhouse or in a temperature-controlled enclosure.  This allows producers to market fresh produce during seasons when trucked-in produce is at their highest seasonal prices.

  • Aquaponics is an adaptable process that allows for a diversification of income streams.  High-value herbs, vegetables, and leafy greens, as well as fish, crayfish, worms, mushrooms, and a number of other crops may be produced, depending upon local market interest and the interests of the grower.

  • These systems allow agriculture to take large innovative steps toward environmental sustainability.  Because these are mostly-closed-loop systems, nutrient effluent leaving the facility is virtually nonexistent.  Additionally, fish, plant, and other waste solids may be captured and converted into value-added fertilizer products for wholesale or retail sale.

  • Growers can start small, with minimal investment, perhaps using scrounged materials to see if the venture is “right for me,” then scale-up as markets and expertise develops.

Read our book, Commercial Aquaponics GOLD.

  • This comprehensive information about commercial aquaponics provides you will all the facts you’ll need to make an informed business decision about commercial aquaponics growing in controlled environment agricultural (CEA).
  • We’re also offering TWO FREE BONUSES with the purchase of Commercial Aquaponics GOLD: 1) A formal ten-step strategy business plan template designed specifically for commercial aquaponics growing to present to funders and, 2) PFAS LLC’s Executive Summary showing production and operating costs, profits and best-produce choices to achieve the shortest Return on Investment.

CLICK ON our fun video by the Crazy Professor, aka, Colle Davis, Inventor of Portable Farms, talk about commercial aquaponics and explain what his book Commercial Aquaponics Gold offers.

A Severe Lettuce Shortage Is Putting a Dent in Your Wallet

 

Start a Hobby Farm for Family Fun 

Start a Hobby Farm for Family Fun 

Start your own hobby farm and invite your entire family to care for the fish and plants to grow your own food. A small farm requires only five-minutes a day to feed the fish and tend to the plants.

For most people, having a built-in cushion of almost anything provides a really great feeling of comfort. The topic of ‘food security’ for families is in the news today especially in cold climates where fresh food must be imported up to eight months per year instead of being grown locally. Aquaponics offers the choice for growing fresh food grown near your kitchen and available year round.

To have a few months of money that you’ve saved safely tucked away, or a full tank of gas, or cupboards stocked and supplies in the house makes us all feel much more secure. Now, add to that a nice garden, some survival foods tucked away and the means to obtain more food on short notice and you begin to feel that you and your family are ready for whatever might happen in the future. And something will happen, let’s all hope it is something nice.

Assuming you have some of the items (listed above) taken care of and you can afford to create a real survival farm/garden, consider an aquaponics system inside a weatherized greenhouse, basement, garage or even an outbuilding. To size it properly, use the formula for a highly efficient aquaponics system (think Portable Farms® Aquaponics Systems) of 25 sq ft of grow space which is necessary for each adult. This ‘small acreage’ will feed that adult all of their surface vegetables year round forever and provide a source of protein: fish. You may want to increase the total area slightly to insure you can feed those who show up at your door if times do become more difficult.

Lanai Aquaponics in the tropics. This tray feeds four people.

Lanai Aquaponics in the tropics. This tray feeds four people.

Ah yes, the cost. To build a greenhouse (10 x 30′) to house a single PFAS Module for feeding four adults will cost somewhere between US$3,500 and US$5,000 depending on many factors. Cost of greenhouse, climate considerations, floor covering, local lumber costs, etc.

There you have it. If you put the PFAS in your basement or garage there is no cost for the greenhouse, only the PFAS Module materials and some grow lights for indoor growing. Neat, elegant, practical and affordable and the best part, it’s AVAILABLE TODAY.

 


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