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.

Start Your Own Aquaponics Business

Start Your Own Aquaponics Business In Your Community
– by Colle and Phyllis Davis

Portable Farms® Aquaponics Systems

Aquaponics is easier and more productive than organic gardening or traditional agriculture and uses 95% less water. Portable Farms® Aquaponics Systems also use less electricity and less labor than any other aquaponics system in the world.

portable-farms-food-security-freedom

Aquaponics is an ideal business opportunity for young adults, men, women, those currently employed full time or part time, older adults, retired people, and those with disabilities. This is NOT a get-rich-scheme; it  requires dedication, start-up capital and a sense of humor to grow any entrepreneurial venture to success. 

 Portable Farms® customers say to us almost every day, “I want to start small with a backyard farm and then grow into a larger system, maybe even to a larger size commercial aquaponics operation fairly quickly. Can I do this using your system?”

QUESTION: Can a person or family or small group start really small (for example, one single Portable Farms Module in a greenhouse) and then grow into a commercial success in a reasonable amount of time?

ANSWER: ABSOLUTELY, YES!

portable-farms-fish-tilapiaPlease, be aware this project does require some initial capital, hard work in the beginning, dedication, some luck and the willingness to do whatever it takes to succeed. This is NOT a get rich quick scheme or a plot to hook your friends and neighbors into buying what you’re selling. (In fact, you may have problems keeping your friends away from your fresh healthy locally grown food.)

Launching your own aquaponics business involves leveraging the most efficient aquaponics system in the world into a money-making  business plan for personal wealth and security.portable-farms-food-security1   There are several distinct steps for making a nice living with aquaponics and maybe even becoming wealthy after a few years of focus and hard work. The best part is that the Portable Farms® Aquaponics Systems installations are doing most of the work with the owner planting, harvesting and selling their healthy food to eager markets.

VISIT AQUAPONICS UNIVERSITY AND LEARN ABOUT AQUAPONICS!


 

 

 

 

 

 

Growing Tomatoes in Aquaponics

 Growing Tomatoes in Aquaponics
-by Colle and Phyllis Davis

toms may 17 2013

(Photo above) Each of these tomatoes weighs approximately 1/2 pound. We harvested them from a Farms® Aquaponics System. THEY ARE DELICIOUS.

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 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.

tomatoes colle may 3 2013

Colle Davis harvesting tomatoes

Tomatoes that have been planted and raised from a Portable Farms® Aquaponics Systems can be sold as locally-grown and pesticide free and after certification can also be called ‘organic’ meaning the grower can receive higher prices based on their growing methods and further reducing the ROI than stated in this article.

GFIA Portable Farms® Aquaponics System - Tomatoes 6Tomatoes present an interesting opportunity because of two factors: The first is that all tomatoes must be staked or trellised (vertical growing) to maximize yield. This keeps the plants upright and allows the utilization of the entire column of growing space from the Grow Table’s surface to the area 2m (6 feet) or more above the Grow Tables. Trellising can be seen as a type of natural vertical gardening. Trellising also makes harvesting much easier because the fruit is more readily accessible. Pollination is also easier due to the open access to the blossoms. Circulating fans are very effective in the pollination of most plants and reducing the humidity and heat when the plants’ blossoms are opened up on trellises.

To successfully grow tomatoes and other blooming plants (peppers, cucumbers, beans, etc.) year round requires the use of Grow Lights suspended above the Grow Tables in a climatically adapted environment. The investment in the Grow Lights and electricity for the purpose of growing blooming plants is offset by the increases in both variety and production.

One of the challenges with tomatoes is to determine how long to leave the plants in the gravel before removing them and replanting in the same spot in the gravel. The recommended spacing on tomatoes is 30cm (12 inches) and not to offset the rows for maximum outreach of the plant’s growth. Our research discovered that the plants begin to produce tomatoes at 81 – 89 days (depending on conditions) but after approximately six to eight months of growing in the gravel, the tomato plants develop such a large root ball (the size of a football) that they began to impede the effective flow of water through the Grow Tables. This is especially true when a Grow Table was planted with only tomatoes. This root ball’s large sized necessitates the removal of the mature tomato plant after the sixth to the eighth month. The immature tomatoes can be harvested before the plants are removed to add to the overall production. The gravel in the area is then cleared of root fragments, and a new plant is immediately placed in the same spot. This process is thoroughly and carefully covered in the Operations Manual© provided with each installation.

Colle Davis, Lead Inventor, CEO of PFAS LLC, standing in front of a few tomato plants (10' tall) that supply hundreds of tomatoes while they're planted in a Portable Farms Aquaponics System. We generally leave the tomatoes in the grow trays about six months and then replant new tomatoes because their root systems grow too large (size of a football) for the grow trays.

Colle Davis, Lead Inventor, CEO of PFAS LLC, standing in front of a few tomato plants (10′ tall) that supply hundreds of tomatoes while they’re planted in a Portable Farms Aquaponics System. We generally leave the tomatoes in the grow trays about six months and then replant new tomatoes because their root systems grow too large (size of a football) for the grow trays.

 Tomatoes from a single full size 5′ x 40′ (200 sq ft) or 6’ x 32’ [1.5m x 12m (18m2)] Grow Table:

  • Each Grow Table can hold 200 plants (1ft or 30cm centers) and be planted twice per year
  • Production (harvest time) is normally over a 60 to 85 day period
  • The plants require a three month growing period before harvest begins
  • Year round growing is accomplished with the use of grow lights above the Grow Tables and a carefully acclimatized greenhouse or warehouse structure
  • Tomato plants bloom to fruit ratio is increased greatly with the addition of FF Mineral Rock Dust. FF Mineral Rock Dust provides aquaponics growers the perfect balance of many trace elements not consistently available from just plain ordinary fish poop. Now you can grow consistently blooming plants with the addition of FF Mineral Rock Dust, as your plants and your fish poop will now contain adequate levels of calcium, iron, magnesium and potassium, just to mention four of the vital elements for successful growing in aquaponics.
  • Staking or trellising is required and can be installed permanently
  • No pesticides, fungicides or artificial fertilizers are ever used
  • Tomatoes yield is between 5 and 9 lbs. [2 and 4k] per plant depending on variety
  • Yield per plant is 25 to 35 tomatoes per plant, depending on variety
  • Yield 55lbs [25k] per week
  • This level of yield give one 880 lbs. to 1,760lbs [400 to 800k] every six months
  • Or in one year 1,760 to 3,500lbs [800 to 1600k]
  • PLUS 330lbs [150k] of Tilapia per year from the Fish Tank below the Grow Table

Each Module contains one Grow Table, one Fish Tank and one Clarifier. The components to make the Module functional include the Portable Farms® Kit with the special pump and valve system, a control panel, air pumps and related hardware and wiring.

Each Module cost approximately US$3,300 completely installed. This does include the growing medium (gravel), but not the 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 Modules require being 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.

 


Simplifying Your Life Increases Your Sustainability

Simplifying Your Life Increases Your Sustainability
– by Colle and Phyllis Davis

handsholdingearth

Spring means throwing things away, washing windows, moving furniture and vacuuming underneath and simplifying our lives. We may hate doing it, but we love the results and it makes it happier.

You can make your life more resilient, less susceptible to shock and more secure relatively easily. There are a variety of inexpensive ways to enhance your family’s chances of surviving any kind of trauma. Start by simplifying your life. If you want to be able to weather whatever comes at you and your family start by reducing the opportunities for something to actually go wrong, because you know that eventually something BIG will go wrong. Simplifying means reducing the complexity of your household, protecting your income, carefully examining your beliefs to see if they fit your current world and begin to carefully notice how you interact with those around you.

Make a list of what you want to accomplish in the next six months to help your family through any emergency. This may mean storing a few days’ supply of water, emergency food, some flashlight batteries as well as some plans for charging your mobile phone and laptop. These steps are really simple, consisting of low cost items that, if you are truly serious, you will rotate out with fresh supplies on at least an annual basis.

One other item you may want to consider for long term security is building a Portable Farms® Aquaponics System at your location. At least you can eat and if you have a small solar installation you can eat for many, many years to come. The Portable Farms® Aquaponics Systems actually deliver a slight excess of everything the plants need, even the light, so every plant always have the perfect conditions for maximum growth. The NEW Enhanced PFAS also has other advantages:

Komatsuna summerfest - An Asian Green we prefer over bib lettuce.

Komatsuna summerfest – An Asian Green we prefer over bib lettuce.

  • No pesticides are ever used
  • Less water use than any other type of commercial growing system available today
  • The waste water is a valuable fertilizer that can be used on other crops or sold at a profit
  • Waist high work area
  • No single point of failure
  • No weeding – ever
  • Watering is automatic
  • No soil or dirt inside the building

 

 

tomatoe bunch2For maximum production/yield, PFAS LLC recommends the following ENHANCEMENTS to a regular PFAS installation:

  • The addition of micro-nutrients that include  iron, magnesium, calcium and potassium and 53 other vital minerals are supplied with organic FF-Mineral Rock Dust
  • High performance greenhouse coverings that protect from weather extremes.
  • Insulation of all walls and roof that do not contribute direct sunlight to the grow trays
  • Grow lights capable of providing maximum full spectrum lighting for both greens and blooming plants.
  • Inert growing medium for planting seeds
  • Trellis installation for maximum vertical growing for blooming plants
  • Full monitoring system of all functions within the building that notify operator of any necessary adjustments required
  • Low cost fish tank heaters
  • Automatic water leveling system for fish tanks.

These controlled-environments-precision-growing-systems are capital intensive on the front end, but they produce income very quickly and continue to produce income over long periods of time with only operational expenses needing to be covered. The ROI on the Portable Farms® Aquaponics Systems is only three to five years. Investors really appreciate these advantages and the new ‘farmers’ appreciate the opportunity to reap huge rewards for their efforts.


 

 

Aquaponics is EASIER than Dirt Farming

Aquaponics is EASIER than Dirt Farming
– by Colle and Phyllis Davis

cowboy1
Conventional farming is one of the more difficult and dirtiest jobs in the world. It is so hard, in fact, that only a small group of young people are actually becoming new farmers. The hours are long, the work is hard, the rewards are irregular and the impact on family life is nearly incalculable. Yet, we need a larger demographic of younger farmers to replace our aging farmers.

Granted, aquaponics can only grow about 300 varieties of food and traditional agriculture offers far more growing options, but aquaponics does grow many healthy table vegetables and fish. For example, aquaponics cannot grow root vegetables such as potatoes, carrots, onions or radishes. And most squash prefer a dry sandy soil. But aquaponics does grow most greens, herbs, and many blooming vegetables such as tomatoes, beans, zucchini, cucumber and even eggplant. We rely on traditional agriculture to grow wheat, most grains, rice, corn, soy, melons/squash, and perrineals such as asparagus and most berries.

Therein lies the rub . . .

 

There are FEWER NEW FARMERS as the years go by. It’s no wonder why. It’s hard work and urban living is far more appealing to young adults yet it leaves the heavy work to older adults.

age of farmer

dirtfarmerFarmers complain that they can’t compete with imports and then try to figure out how they can export more of their own production to receive better prices. So then a different farmer in some other part of the world then complains about the low prices due to imports. And the circle continues repeats and never ends.

The price/cost of food is set by the world market and if a farmer wants to compete in that arena, they have to be able to raise food at least as cheaply as the world’s lowest cost producer plus shipping. That is nearly impossible to accomplish on a consistent basis. Plus governments often have subsidy programs to ‘help’ farmers compete with the rest of the world. This makes for an unrealistic distortion in the market prices. These subsidies drive down the prices paid to farmers in every country.

There is a growing opportunity for farmers everywhere in the world to make more money, have a more consistent market and insure that the impact of cheap foreign produce is kept to a minimum. They can do this by feeding the locavores (those who eat local food grown ‘in season’) and producing the finest food available to the local high-end markets on a year round basis. Conventional farming cannot accomplish this magic trick.

gtt 40 days with collePortable Farms® Aquaponics Systems offer controlled environment farming which is a growing segment of farming. LEARN MORE FROM US:  CLICK HERE.

Growing food in controlled environments (greenhouses/warehouses) is the exact formula already making an impact on the pricing of food. Hotels that own their own greenhouses are already providing the best possible food for their guests and enjoying enhanced reputations for addressing the needs and desires of their clients by providing them with healthy, locally grown food.

 

TILAPIA is the Fish for Aquaponics


TILAPIA is the Fish for Aquaponics

-by Colle and Phyllis Davis
tilapia Oreochromis mossambicusTilapia is the fish we recommend for aquaponics.

They prefer a water temperature in the low 80° F, the water can be fresh water, brackish water or even salty water, and they do just fine. They will thrive in water that can be dirty looking and still grow and be ready for eating almost anywhere in the world.

Most trout/salmon do not like water over 60° F at which point they begin to experience stress and become susceptible to diseases in warmer water. This means either the water must be cooled and heated each cycle, or the fish or the plants will be unhappy and not grow well.

WATERBLUEFISH2Trout/salmon are also carnivores and are grown best on animal protein. Commercial trout chow contains fish meal as the protein source and that fish meal is from ocean harvest fish, depleting the ocean fisheries.

Catfish, which was our personal first choice, have a different problem. The fry or fingerlings are only available three months of the year (May, June, July) so there is no way for farm owners to consistently restock their fish tanks. Catfish grow quickly, they like warm water, they will eat almost anything, they taste good and are a hardy fish. But, stocking off season is impossible.

Perch are carnivores and eat bugs, crayfish and other animals to grow. This feed is tough to get in the winter months unless you grow them inside for some other purpose. Perch food is tough to get almost any time of the year. Perch taste sweet and are easy to work with but are difficult to find food for them.

Most crayfish and many freshwater prawns are cannibalistic and need to live in separate ‘apartments’ built in the tanks so they don’t eat each other. They are sometimes used in the tanks with other fish to clean up the bottom of the tanks. They are very hardy, but the housing for them is a problem.

tialpiaswimming21-300x199That leaves the incredibly, tasty, hearty and adaptable Tilapia. They are very easy to grow, prepare, they taste great, grow quickly, and are available year round. They are herbivores and prefer plant protein and are very hardy.

 

Waist High Gardening for Boomers in Aquaponics

Waist High Gardening for Boomers in Aquaponics

Boomers enjoy gardening and aquaponics creates sustainability in their community! 
– by Colle and Phyllis Davis

baby booomer tomatoe

 

AQUAPONICS TO THE RESCUE. Most Baby Boomers enjoy gardening.

Many of us spent time on our grandparents farms during our childhoods and today, there is a major resurgence in back yard gardens today, but problems arise for Boomers are unable to stoop, bend or till soil.  Aquaponics is a great way to re-purpose an entire generation. The idea could even spread to other parts of the world and maybe all seniors and all people of any age or educational demographic could be seen as productive members of any society and all because of Portable Farms® Aquaponics Systems.

According to About.com, senior’s deepest fears might surprise you: “The unpredictable cost of illness and healthcare is by far baby boomers’ biggest fear. They are three times more worried about a major illness (48%), their ability to pay for healthcare (53%) or winding up in a nursing home (48%), than about dying (17%).”

The Boomers are the largest group ever to reach retirement age and are now starting to do just that, retire. But, a very large percentage of these so called ‘Boomers’ are not prepared for retirement and are going to need help in their golden years. 

10,000 Baby Boomers a day turn 65 and that trend continues until 2030. Boomers are the best educated generation in history, we have had the most freedom and the most fun of any generation in history, we/are also one of the most creative generations in history (Internet and technology, science and medical contributions, transportation and distribution advantages), we are also in charge of building a large part of the world we live in today, but we have also suffered under the delusion that we would always be young, healthy and have unlimited energy forever. Silly people.

Time is finally getting to those of us in the Boomer demographic (those born between the years 1946 and 1964). We are getting older, our health is not as stable as it was and Boomers are looking for ways to reinvent themselves to stay busy and make a difference. After all, this talented group does have a huge reservoir of talents, skills, knowledge and contacts that society could use if only there was a way to harness their interests and they could profit from their efforts.

As Boomers lead quieter lives as they move into a ‘less productive’ stage in their lives, they still have valuable contributions to make to society in productive ways. They can form groups within compounds, er . . . retirement homes, and work together (which offers social interactions) to raise their own food and sell the surplus to pay for their room and board. After all, most Baby Boomers have had childhood experiences on a family or relative’s farm and we remember what ‘real food’ tasted like when it was harvested fresh and full of nutrients, so ‘fresh healthy food’ is a commonality among us.

The technology exists today (Portable Farms® Aquaponics Systems) that can help the residents become very productive at raising their own food. These aquaponics systems are very easy to operate, mostly harvesting and planting at ‘waist high’ Grow Tables and a few of the younger and more active people in the group could be in charge of the regular maintenance routines of the equipment (a few minutes a day, at most). The Grow Tables and can be adapted even to those with disabilities or require wheel chair access.

Aquaponics for Beginners

Aquaponics for Beginners
By Colle and Phyllis Davis

There are literally millions of pages on the Internet about the topic of aquaponics.

JOIN THE PORTABLE FARMS FAMILY.

CLICK HERE to enroll in the Aquaponics Course.

peppers three smilingPFAS LLC’s website has been visited several million times over the last 12 months or so and we are only one of the many other sites available. To start the journey of having a working aquaponics system, the best place to start is to begin to search the Internet and devote several hours of time to do the research and then assemble your own unique aquaponics system.

Begin with one beta fish or gold fish in a bowl to support one lettuce plant. Grow your interest to feed your family and then if the stars align, install a community garden. BEGIN SMALL and grow from there.

If you’re interested in owning your own aquaponics system, your first goal is to select the size aquaponics system you’d like to operate for your own unique purposes. We always suggest to our customers that they learn how to successfully operate an aquaponics system and if it fits their needs THEN expand to multiple aquaponics modules (the sky’s the limit).

There are literally thousands of websites that can show you how to set up a small workable open-source backyard hobby-aquaponics systems without paying for the information. For those who are not able to purchase our systems, we suggest you START TODAY by working with online/open source information so you can learn about aquaponics and build your own farm. We also suggest you visit online aquaponics forums so you can ask questions you may have from other aquaponics enthusiasts. 

Please do all the research you need to feel comfortable moving forward with your aquaponics project. Some quick numbers that will be helpful:

  • IF you place your small system inside, as in garage or basement, be prepared to spend a few hundred dollars on the very smallest system that will be a joy to show off to your friends and enjoy a few vegetables each year.
  • If you build a larger system (4 x 8’ grow tray size) be prepared to spend a little over $1,000 and that will help feed one and a third people. More fun and more bragging.
  • If you go absolutely crazy and put up a greenhouse or ‘big’ installation to feed 4 to 8 people then you are looking at an investment in the US$3,500 to US$8,000 range.

 


farm 8 18 2012 aquaponicsWe call this process of starting small and expanding the size of your aquaponics system ‘getting your hands wet’ because even if one possesses all the knowledge in the world about a topic (in this case aquaponics), it will not feed a single person; only ACTION GROWS FOOD and in this case several steps are required before it creates food that nourishes someone and that action has an impact.  Start with research, build a small aquarium and dish pan system, move up to garbage cans or IBC totes, go crazy and build a ‘real’ system so you can kill fish and plants. Oh, sorry, you may not want to hear that, but that is what will happen. That is how one learns, by making mistakes.

aquaponics back yard farmIn the world of makers and successful businesses there is a motto: Fail fast and fail often. This means you will try things and if they work, keep them, if they fail, try something else. Side note here: we have killed thousands of fish in our 45 years in the field of aquaponics. Some we ate, some were our own dumb mistakes coming to bite us and some were out of unintended consequences.

Back to getting a running start in aquaponics. Start somewhere, at some level, now. Modern aquaponics is a brand new field because it encompasses recent technology and innovation along with successful techniques from the past. Aquaponics is evolving rapidly and slowly becoming main stream. The commercial side of aquaponics may take another ten or twenty years to accept on par with hydroponics, but it will happen.

It is the hobbyist, gardener, cook and home owner who are leading the charge on this ‘new’ technology, not the big companies, governments or NGO’s. Aquaponics is up close and personal as only eating can be and it is the opportunity to eat the best food on earth, every day, for a long as you live.

The important part is to get started NOW. Have fun, make mistakes and eat great food.

A short cut to aquaponics success is to take the Aquaponics University Portable Farms Aquaponics Systems Course©. Just sayin’.


Enroll HERE – Online Aquaponics Course

Build your own Portable Farms® Aquaponics System

Enroll HERE – Online Aquaponics Course

Read the course’s curriculum CLICK HERE.

Enroll in our online course and learn to assemble and operate a Portable Farms® Aquaponics System.

Most students dedicate one hour per day for a week or ten days to complete the online course.

Upon satisfactory completion of the course, graduates receive a Portable Farms® Kit used in the assembly of the aquaponics module that is capable of building a grow table large enough to feed eight people table vegetables and fish . . . forever.

Graduates often build and install one Model Portable Farms® Aquaponics System over a single weekend.

  • You will need these tools: power saw, hammer, power drill, level, hydraulic jack (for leveling), staple gun, hack saw or PVC pipe cutter, box cutter and maybe a few band-aids.
  • Think of the Grow Table as a large shallow tray on legs. You will need two people, three is better because the Grow Table is heavy.
  • The hardest part of the process is washing and placing the gravel a slow, heavy and wet process best delegated to young, strong helpers.
  • Building a Portable Farms® Aquaponics Systems Module does requires some carpentry skills and a person with the skills to hang a door or build a cabinet will do a fine job.

To find out what is IN the Portable Farms® Kit and what is NOT in the Portable Farms® Kit , please request the FREE AND INSTANTANEOUS PRICE LIST (top right box on every page of this website).

Let us teach you how to grow healthy fish and vegetables so you can become increasingly self-sustaining.

  • Our 45 years of experience in aquaponics is now available to teach you how to feed your family FOREVER. [Read our History: CLICK HERE] It only takes a few days to learn the areas related to assembling an aquaponics system  so you can build your own Portable Farms® Aquaponics System!

The Portable Farms® Aquaponics System NEW ONLINE Course is $1,895.00


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We accept MasterCard, Visa, PayPal and Wire Transfers. If you’d prefer, you may call us to give us your credit number over the phone: 800-906-0256 OR 800-952-6224. We also accept checks, wire transfers and money orders.

Shipping and postage are included to addresses in the US only, BUT for all order outside the US there is a US$140 shipping and handling charge. 

The entire Portable Farms® Aquaponics System Course©, Sections A-Z, must be satisfactorily completed within 12 months from the date of enrollment in order to qualify for graduation or the Portable Farms® Kit.

Growing Fruit Trees or Blueberries in Aquaponics

How to Grow Fruit Trees or Blueberries in Aquaponics 
– by Colle and Phyllis Davis
 

Here are the main parameters that need to be addressed when considering raising fruit trees with aquaponics:

 

  1. Pollination. Bees do not do well at all inside buildings. Hand pollination is time consuming and expensive.
  2. Which fruit(s) should you raise?
  3. What market is being addressed and can the fruit compete with regular ‘dirt farming’ methods currently used for growing fruit?
  4. What is to be done with the fish waste water when the trees are dormant?
  5. What training will the personnel need to have in order to make the aquaponics-fruit-growing-installation most productive? 

The first step for installing an orchard is to dig trenches on the contour across the slope of the

Women picking ripe blueberries close up shoot

designated orchard area. These trenches need to be 18 to 24 inches (45cm to 60cm) deep and the same wide with a 4 to 6 inch berm build up on each side to prevent ground water from entering the trench at any time. Then an impermeable membrane is placed covering the entire berm trench berm area to insure that no water either leaves or enters the trench. (Blueberries only need half the trench size.) 

At one end of the top trench, install an automatic trip valve in a sump area and have it drain into the trench below so the water is flowing back across the slope in the next trench down the slope. This arrangement will mean the water travels from one end of the trench to the other, drops to the next level and traverses the slope in the opposite direction for each trench. The slope must be great enough for the trench to fill nearly full each time and then to drain out completely. The ideal slope is 1:6 up to 1:8, less or more slope requires some consulting time to design a functioning system.  

Before filling the lined trenches with gravel, fill them with water first to observe that each automatic trip valve is working correctly and that each trench drains completely.  

The next step is placing the gravel that has been to be washed and screened to remove sand, mud and debris into the trenches up to two inches below the top of the berm. The gravel needs to be level in all directions. Fill each trench insuring the pipe surrounding the automatic trip valve has no gravel inside of it.   

Finally make sure the last trench drains completely into the fish tank/pond. Now it is the time to plant the trees (bushes) and install the fish into their new home. The choice of fish is much broader than it is with indoor aquaponics. Local fish can be used very successfully. Feed the fish what they will eat in 15 to 30 second once or twice a day after they are two to three inches long.  

When the fruiting season is over, reduce the water flow through the system to twice a week and after the leaves drop only run the water once or twice a month to insure the trees have some water. In the spring, begin the water flow before the first thaw and before the leaves start to swell.  

Now, here is a quick and dirty method. Cut several 55-gallon plastic drums in half, install a drain line with a shut off valve in the bottom so you can control the water level, fill with gravel, plant your favorite fruit trees and water with fish waste water a couple times a week during growing season and once or twice a month when they are dormant. AQUAPONICS FRUIT GROWING:  DONE.  

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