The Commercial Aquaponics Farmer

The Commercial Aquaponics Farmer

by Colle and Phyllis Davis

To read more about Commercial Aquaponics: CLICK HERE.

We encourage you to install one single 5 x 40 or 6 x 32 or 200 sq ft aquaponics module that feeds eight people. This will give you a chance to experiment with growing food and caring for the fish. You’ll see for yourself what foods grow well and how prolific the systems are for producing food. We call this ‘getting your hands wet’ and it’s a feasible way to launch your commercial aquaponics dreams.

Becoming a commercial aquaponics farmer requires the technology information, plans, the permits, site preparation, the inspections, the ordering of the greenhouse and the thousands of small and large steps all of which are necessary. But once started on the site development and the assembling of the greenhouse everything becomes REAL and moves all the plans into actions. This is always a very exciting time for our new customers and brings a sense of ‘this is real’ for everyone involved.

All construction projects (large and small) require planning and careful execution to build that dream to completion. Every new building is surrounded with a glow and an energy that is very difficult to describe and yet everyone knows the feeling of accomplishment and the energy that result when carefully executive plans come together and begin to materialize.

 

  • Commercial Aquaponics Gold, EBOOK. For more information and to purchase, CLICK HERE.
  • 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.

These steps will result in being almost there in the project’s completion:

• Design the climatically adapted greenhouse which, by the way, is THE MOST EXPENSIVE component of any new Portable Farms® Aquaponics System’s installation. You will be required to have your installers build the greenhouse to PFAS LLC’s specifications to assure the protection and health of the plants that will be growing inside. We strongly suggest you consider leasing/renting an empty greenhouse in their area to start with, if at all possible, instead of paying for land and a new greenhouse to be installed on their site. Leasing an empty greenhouse is a far more affordable option.

• Schedule the time with PFAS LLC for the Portable Farms® Kits to be delivered to the construction site and to have the Portable Farm’s® onsite construction foreman there to train your assembly crews.

Upon completion of the greenhouse(s), assure the materials for the assembly of the Modules (lumber and fish tanks, etc.) will be delivered on time to the site for the assembly crews who are being trained by the PFAS LLC’s foreman.

Ordering your fish and arrange for the baby fish (fingerlings) to be delivered upon completion of the first set of Modules. 

The greenhouse will be a climatically adapted structure design and built to house the plants and fish in an environment where the temperature is maintained between 45° and 104° F (6 and 40° C). All air intakes, or anywhere air comes in, will have screens installed to keep out the bugs, dirt, dust and rain. Idea growing temperatures are in the mid-80’s F.

  • There should also be shade cloth installed on the ceiling and/or sides of the greenhouse to insure the plants do NOT have direct sunlight on them or on the gravel.
  • There will be exhaust fans and circulating fans to insure the air is fresh and circulated at all times. Provisions for cooling must be made for very hot weather. In some very cold climates some heating will be required.  These requirements are part of the normal greenhouse design and building.
  • The construction team on the ground (who will build the climatically adapted greenhouse structure) can begin as soon as the design is approved and funded. This will speed up the entire process.
  • You have agreements with new customers ready to accept your produce when the plants and fish are ready for harvest and delivery.
    Insure your complete support group is in place: assembly personnel, operators, sales people, packers, delivery people, etc
  • The availability of vehicles and other items need to be in place because the harvest of vegetables can begin is as little as five weeks after the Portable Farms® Aquaponics System is turned on and running water with plants and fish in place.

Lane McClelland Trusted Advisors, Certified Installation Instructors for Portable Farms® Aquaponics Systems, Southern California

To ensure your projects stays on schedule, we require a defined lead time for your order to insure your Portable Farms® Kits will be available for delivery to your site on time. Production runs are scheduled to coincide with construction projects spread throughout the world, and because of this, PFAS LLC has the flexibly, if your project is ahead of schedule, to shorten the shipping time to meet your needs.

Part of the documentation provided to our customers is a complete list of materials needed to build all the Modules.

Once the greenhouse near completion, the materials need to be delivered to the job site and ready for the Assembly Crew to begin construction the moment the PFAS LLC construction foreman arrives. A crew of experienced builders can assemble 32 or more Portable Farms® Aquaponics System Modules in five or six days. These modules are not hard to build if all the materials are onsite and easily available. The main criteria for constructing the modules is that the Grow Tables are built to be VERY Strong and absolutely level. A single Commercial Portable Farms® Aquaponics System Grow Table (40ft in length) weighs over four tons (9,000 lbs).

Careful planning and ordering supplies of seeds, growing medium and fingerlings (fish) begins the moment the funding is in place. Finding a source of fingerlings is critical because the fish poop is needed as soon as the Modules have water running through them. The plants in the Grow Tables can grow and survive for a week or so without fish in the system, but any longer and the lack of nutrients will stunt their growth. At PFAS LLC we like to say, “If a plant has a happy childhood, they will grow to be a healthy plant.” So, please be ready to install your fish as soon as possible after the water is running in your modules. Besides, the fish are tiny while the first planting of vegetable are tiny. They start off together and grow quickly. The small fish provide the perfect amount of nutrients for the small plants. Everybody’s happy.

Now is the time to start your commercial aquaponic’s project. Send us an email detailing the size and your funding time frame and see how quickly you can be in the business of supplying locally grown, pesticide free food to the local high end markets in your area.

When your funding is in place contact Colle Davis, EMAIL, to discuss your project and time frames.

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.

PFAS LLC’s website has been visited several million times over the last 12 months, 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. Indoors, 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 (depending on your choice of greenhouse).

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.

Hot Trending Investment for 2019: COMMERCIAL AQUAPONICS

Hot Trending Investment for 2019: 
COMMERCIAL AQUAPONICS

– by Colle and Phyllis Davis

greenhouse large

Where can money be invested today that will give the investor a reasonable rate of return and more importantly assure a safe investment that will be long lasting and be selling product into a growing and insatiable market? Go through the list of all of the possibilities you can think of, and then, add in these additional benefits to the equation:

    • Produces food on a year round basis
    • Can be solar powered
    • Can use recycled water
    • Employs local semi-skilled labor (women, men, young and old)
    • Enhances the value of the property and surrounding property
    • Is non-polluting
    • Produces organic food and requires 90% to 95% less water than in-ground growing
    • Can be installed nearly anywhere in the world
    • Produces an organic fertilizer that can be used on any crop or plants.

Let’s add in:

    • An ROI of less than five years on the initial installation
    • Subsequent installations with less than three year ROI
    • Unlimited expansion in a designated territory
    • NO FRANCHISE FEES
    • Small annual renewal fee

Watch Colle Davis, Lead Inventor, Portable Farms Aquaponics Systems, talk about commercial aquaponics and his book, Commercial Aquaponics GOLD. 

Commercial Aquaponics Gold, EBOOK. For more information and to purchase, CLICK HERE.

  • 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.

READ ALL OUR E-BOOKS ABOUT AQUAPONICS!

Once you have your funding in place contact Colle Davis cdavis@mycoach.com with the specifications of the installation you are planning and see how quickly it can come to fruition.


Portable Farms® – Go Solar and OFF GRID. So, Sexy.

Portable Farms® – Go Solar and OFF GRID. So, Sexy.
– By Colle and Phyllis Davis

PFAS LL offers Portable Farms® Kits designed for SOLAR installations.

The PFAS LLC Research Center installation at our headquarters in Southern Florida has operated on solar power since last August and has not missed a beat. The system is 100% solar powered and you too can have a system solar powered Portable Farms® with 12v air compressors and timers.

Full disclosure: We use a slightly modified solar electric system with a 12VDC to 110v AC converter for the large air pump because of the noise factor. We have on hand and have used a 12v air compressor for the CAD Pump and it works just fine but is much noisier than the 110VAC compressor. You have been forewarned. 🙂

Solar Aquaponics GOLD

Let us show you HOW, WHY, WHAT, WHERE and HOW MUCH it costs to install your own solar powered system for YOUR aquaponics system.

The PFAS LLC Florida solar electrical system:

solar panel

  A single 100 watt panel installed next to a Portable Farms® Aquaponics System        

The increasing demand from our students in areas of the world where electrical power is erratic or non-existent has prompted us to offer the Portable Farms® Kit that is part of the Aquaponics University Portable Farms® Aquaponics Systems Course© with a 12 volt DC OPTION. The price is exactly the same as the regular 110 AC system, but we need to know when you order the AU Course or additional Portable Farms® Kits that you want the 12volt option.

With the price of solar panels continuing to drop, the price/value proposition has swung over to favor the solar installations EVEN IF YOU HAVE GRID POWER. For example, the system in use –shown above – is a 100watt panel, MPPT controller, a 12v constantly on air pump for the air stones, a 12v timer, (here is where the difference in our system lies) a 700watt converter 12/110 to run a 110 VAC 65lmp air pump to run the CAD Pump and one deep cycle marine battery. That’s it. The system is bullet proof with all the controls on a panel under the Grow Table.

 

What will ‘going solar’ do for you?

  • Reduce the worry of a power failure that could impact your fish.
  • Reduce the cost of electrical power from your house. Our system will take about 2 year to pay for itself because so little power is needed for the Portable Farms®.
  • Increasing the solar installation size to run Grow Lights for winter growing will quadruple the size/cost and will take about 3.5 years to pay off depending on the size of the installation.
  • Give you incredibly huge bragging rights.
  • Reduce your carbon footprint.

There you have it, PFAS LLC has made solar power components an option with their Portable Farms® Kits. If you are planning a commercial installation the needs of a 10,000 sq ft (1,000m2) climatically adapted building on solar is about the same as a small 2 bedroom house. The main difference is that the Portable Farms® uses the most electricity when the sun is shining so the battery bank can be much smaller than for a house.

To insure you receive the correct power components for your Portable Farms® Kit(s) you must notify us when you receive your Congratulations on Graduating Letter (or before) so we send you the right Portable Farms® Kit.

Begin reducing your carbon footprint and enroll in the Aquaponics University Portable Farms Aquaponics Systems Course© today and let us know when you start, that you are joining the solar revolution and want the 12volt Portable Farms® Kit for your installation.

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.


Grab a Pencil and Let’s Do the Math

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.

Perfect Growing Conditions

Perfect Growing Conditions Grow Healthy Plants and Fish
-by Colle Davis and Phyllis Davis

Please allow us to BRAY like a happy donkey about our farms.

donkey

  • All of their food (nutrients) arrives twice per day of a warm fish effluent (heavy waste was removed).
  • Nutrient-rich 80 degree water is refreshed and oxygenated a couple of times a day.
  • The light levels are always perfect.
  • The air circulates to reduce the humidity in the greenhouse.
  • The temperature is pleasant and varies a bit so as not to be monotonous to the plants.

 

  • There are no bugs or weeds or poisons in the farms.
  • Since the plants have ideal growing conditions, they grow faster than the seed packets say they will.
  • The plants are much healthier than ‘dirt-grown plants’ and as a result, they are healthier for you.
  • They are grown without anything added to the system except fish food and sunlight.
  • They require 90 to 95% less water than their dirt-bound relatives.
  • They stay clean and dry at all times.
  • They are harvested when they are at their peak of ripeness and maturation which means their flavor and nutritional content are always at optimal levels.
  • In the world of finance, this ideal system is called a front-loaded capital investment which means the cost of the system is mostly at the beginning.
  • Building a climatically adapted structure, installing the Portable Farms® Aquaponics Systems does require a financial investment. The results are a food production facility where the food is grown at waist level, no fertilizer or pesticides are needed or used, no weeding, no bugs, no watering and the only input in the system is the addition of fish food, seeds and a tiny amount of electricity. From the day the Portable Farms Aquaponics System is turned on, to the day of harvesting the first vegetables is as short as 28 days to six weeks.

Aquaponics is So EASY: Plant, Harvest and Feed the Fish

Aquaponics is So EASY: Plant, Harvest and Feed the Fish
– by Colle and Phyllis Davis

Aquaponics is a balance of water, fish, plants and bacteria.

A balance of these four components is what makes a successful aquaponics system.

Mozambique tilapia

 

The tilapia fish in Portable Farms® Aquaponics Systems are healthy. Our plants grow to maturation and ripeness because our systems work and we know how to operate them because, over time, we’ve learned our lessons from trial-and-error mistakes and we’ve learned our wisdom through experimentation, guidance from botanists, chemists, other aquaponists around the world (there are far fewer than you might imagine), and our customers.

We seldom, if ever, lose fish. We have lost a few, but very few over the years and it was due to unique reasons and not disease. Because of our technology and the ‘human factor,’ which we teach our customers, we are happy to report our fish are extremely healthy and here are some tips you can use in your own aquaponics systems to create a productive system:


  • Always provide your fish with proper aeration, good food, insulation from cold or excessive heat
  • Keep your fish from being stressed. When fish become stressed, it lowers their immune system and they can become susceptible to disease.
    • Experiment with plants and seed selections and determine what works best in your aquaponics system in your climate.
    • Since space is at a premium in any aquaponics Grow Tray, maximum production is achieved by careful attention to size, quality and grow time for seeds.
    • Implement stalking and support systems to encourage vertical growth of plants that bear heavy fruits and vegetables (tomatoes, zucchini, etc.)
    • Protect plants at all times of their growth and maturation. Protection from wind, humidity, extreme temperatures (hot or cold), insects, disease or predators.
    • Pay close attention to water flow with appropriate levels of nutrient from fish waste.
    • Take care of plants that require pruning unneeded branches.
    • Don’t allow plants with large root systems to remain in grow trays too long. For example, the root system on a tomato plants grows very wide and very deep like a 4 inch thick carpet under the gravel and will alter water flow for the rest of the Grow Tray.
    • Study indoor pollinating techniques designed for non-pollinating and self-pollinating plants.
    • Apply effective and safe oportable-farms-greens-swiss-chard-kalerganic methods for treating plants IF they need support (seldom needed, but occasionally, you might have a problem) for any type of bugs including ants, aphids, red spiders, etc.
    • Learn effective harvest and planting cycles that are crucial to maximize yield in all aquaponics systems.
    • Use grow lights from 4:00PM to 8:00PM from Mid-November to March 1 if living in the Northern Hemisphere so you can grow various crops year round that require a longer grow day.
    • Tilapia are friendly (even clown like) and they enjoy human interaction. Talk to your fish when you feed them and treat them with respect and they will respond by being healthy and growing to maturation.
    • Never overfeed your fish. It’s tempting to overfeed them because they ‘frenzy’ when you feed them and it’s entertaining to watch them jumping around, but the fish are healthier if you’ll feed them only what they can eat in 15 seconds.
    • Don’t overcrowd the fish tanks and make sure the tanks are always clear and clean.
    • Empty the Clarifier/Settling tank regularly so their water does not foul with ammonia buildups.
    • Never, ever, use chemicals that could harm the fish, plants or the system.
    • Add make-up water during times of hot weather by placing the hose in the grow trays before it circulates back into their fish tank.
    • Feed your fish nutritious a high-protein fish food and even duckweed if you have it available.
    • Give your fish occasional treats of organic chopped greens grown in the farm.

Think Ahead for Winter Growing

Winter Growing in Aquaponics
– by Colle and Phyllis Davis

Yes, you can grow a variety of crops YEAR ROUND in aquaponics in acclimatized greenhouses if you install grow lights for use during winter months to extend the light of the day. In order to grow food you need six hours of direct sunlight per day or ten hours of grow lights. 

However, there is a caveat, the ambient air temperature still determines which crops are easier to grow in cold weather or hot weather. For example, It’s easier to grow fragile greens in cooler weather. Let’s use bib lettuce, buttercrunch lettuce or red leaf lettuce as an example. If the air temperature is too hot, those lettuces will not grow to their maximum size, in fact, they may BOLT before they have even reached their average  growth and are best grown in cooler temperatures. However, in hot seasons, there are far more heat-resistant lettuces available such as Romaine (cos).


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

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

Despite the fact that Portable Farms® Aquaponics Systems are ‘housed’ in acclimatized greenhouses and provide the ideal water temperature for growing lettuces at 78 degrees F, all seedlings and growing plants (of all varieties) still react to climatic conditions:

 

 

 

 

  • Air temperature
  • How air temperature effects the temperature of the gravel in the grow beds
  • Humidity levels
  • Sunlight exposure levels
  • Day length
  • Root drainage and water flow
  • Appropriate pH balance and appropriate nutrient levels.
Phyllis Davis harvesting greens for a luncheon. That's was one heck-of-a-salad. Yum.

Phyllis Davis harvesting greens for a luncheon. That’s was one heck-of-a-salad. Yum.

In order to create maximum crop yields, careful consideration is always paramount for seed variety and selection for growing at optimal levels by experimenting with small seed batches until you find a seed that offers maximum production in your farm.

Before deciding on one particular seed or seed variety for your farm, experiment first. Since every area of the world offers a variety of seed choices in that country or region, take your time to speak with local growers and seed suppliers to see which seed will work best for you, in your climate, and then purchase a few different varieties of small packets of seeds to experiment in your aquaponics system until you find the seeds that work best for you and your family or future customers.

All varieties of lettuces grow to harvest between 40 and 75 days and most lettuce seeds available for sale have been developed for growing hearty, healthy heads of lettuce in both cool weather and hot weather conditions. 

Phyllis Davis, Co-Inventor, holding ONE HEAD of India Mustard. Wow! That will make one gigantic salad!
Phyllis Davis, Co-Inventor, holding ONE HEAD of India Mustard. Wow! That will make one gigantic salad!

 

Cool weather lettuces we recommend:

  • Head and Big Lettuces: Arctic King, Buttercrunch, Matchless, North Pole, and Burpee’s Bibb, Red Sails, Prizehead
  • Romaine: Parris Island Cos (the most common)

Heat-tolerant lettuces we recommend:

  • Head lettuces: Gulfstream, Vista, Oak Leaf, Great Lakes, Ithaca, Gator (highly recommended by University of West Virginia). Burpee, Igloo.
  • Leaf Lettuces: Simpson Elite, Burpee™s Heatwave Blend, Black Seeded Simpson
  • Romaine Lettuces (cos): Snappy, Terrapin, Pomulus.
  • Red Lettuces: Redfire and Red Sails. 

Aquaponics in COLD Climates WORKS GREAT!

Aquaponics in COLD Climates Works Great!
– 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.

YEAR ROUND Ideal Growing Conditions for Aquaponics

YEAR ROUND Ideal Growing Conditions for Aquaponics
– by Colle and Phyllis Davis 

indiamustard3

One single head of India Mustard (tastes like a spicy lettuce) that was harvested from a Portable Farms® Aquaponics System.

 


 Question: 

 “How is it possible that Portable Farms Aquaponics Systems can grow such DELICIOUS and nutrient rich food year round?”

Answers:

  • In sunlight, plans use photosynthesis to turn CO2 and water into oxygen and sugar.
  • In the dark, plants switch to the same system animals use to stay alive, the building and repair of the organism itself. 
  • Added to this phenomena of growth, is the fact that as the temperature increases, chemical activity speeds up.
    •  

greenbean aquaponicsThe closer to the ‘ideal’ temperature the better for the plants to grow. The ideal temperature for plant growth is, interestingly, 73° F at the leaf surface or about the same temperature as humans enjoy.

In a climatically adapted greenhouse, temperatures are regulated so the maximum temperature the plants can comfortably tolerate is never reached and the lowest temperature that the particular plant can grow at, produce the best possible conditions for growth.

To have a warm garden in the winter time takes some planning but once it is in place, it will produce prodigious amounts of happy food. For a plant to have all of the nutrients and water it can possibly use delivered to its roots before it even needs them means the plant can grow a quickly as possible because there are no limiting factors.

  • All of the food (nutrients) for the plants arrives before the plants need it, or want it.
  • The water is always available and it is refreshed a couple of times a day
  • The light levels are always perfect in the structure
  • The air circulates in a gentle fashion to help with pollination and to help avoid dampness in the structure
  • The temperature is pleasant and varies a bit so as not to be monotonous
  • There are no bugs or weeds or poisons or harsh chemicals used to contend with, ever.
  • The water in the Portable Farms® Aquaponics Systems turns over ENTIRELY twice a day. Plus, all of the heavy fish poop has been removed and rerouted so it never flows into the Grow Tray or has contact with the plants.

As a result of an ideal environment:

  • The plants grow faster than the seed packets say they will
  • Food grown in an aquaponics system is much healthier than ‘regularly’ grown plants, and as a result, they are healthier for you, they TASTE BETTER and are higher in nutrition.
  • The food in an aquaponics system is grown without any chemicals (think about it; if chemicals were used, it would kill the fish). The growing food is more beautiful with each passing day
  • The plants mature in less time and require 90 to 95% less water than their dirt-grown friends
  • The plants stay clean and dry at all times
  • They are harvested when they are at their peak of ripeness and maturation which means their flavor and nutritional content are always at optimal levels
  • They are simply the best vegetables on the planet.

One of the (many) key reasons plants in Portable Farms® grow so quickly and so LARGE is because the plants roots are bathed in warm water that is loaded with nutrients and are supported by warm gravel in a warm building. What more could they possibly want or need? Portable Farms® spoil the plants and and cater to their every need for comfort.

Interior of a Portable Farms Aquaponics System. Photo taken January 3, 2012.

Interior of a Portable Farms Aquaponics System. 

To provide the absolute ideal conditions for growth and health to any living being, gives them everything they need to be their best. This is true of plants in a Portable Farms® Aquaponics System, raising animals and even raising children. The raising children thing is much harder actually. At least we don’t have to eat them. 🙂

 

 

 

Start the process of having your warm garden by taking the Aquaponics University Aquaponics Online Course today and have warm healthy and delicious plants in only a few weeks.