Operating an Aquaponics System

Operating an Aquaponics System
by Colle and Phyllis Davis

READ THE ENTIRE AQUAPONICS COURSE OUTLINE: CLICK HERE.

The majority of daily tasks include planting, harvesting and feeding the fish. Repeat the next day.

aug 20 interior2There are two assumptions that will be made here regarding the operations for a backyard aquaponics system:

1) your installation is, or is similar to, a Portable Farms® Aquaponics System.

2) You have built a medium/media based (not a raft based) aquaponics system. Operations include the steps that are necessary for you to keep the fish and plants alive and healthy.

A backyard farm that feeds 8 people generally takes about ten to fifteen minutes per day to maintain. This includes feeding the fish, planting seedlings and harvesting. Operations are NOT time consuming but they are DAILY operations that cannot and should NOT be skipped.

When you’re dealing with living aquatic animals, they require daily care, attention and yes, even affection to remain healthy and grow to their full size. If your fish are ‘stressed’ for any reason, they won’t eat – – – – and if they don’t eat – – – – they don’t poop – – – – and if they don’t poop, your plants will not be healthy.  So, if you’re going to be gone for longer than a day or so, ask a friend or neighbor (that you trust) that will take care of your aquaponics system.

tilapia Oreochromis mossambicusOperational tasks include:

1. Maintaining adequate levels of water in the fish tank at all times
2. Feeding your fish a high protein fish feed each day (singing to your fish is optional but they do enjoy human contact and they do enjoy the sound of talking and singing)
3. Always wear disposable gloves when preforming tasks in the building
4. Keeping the pH balanced in the fish tank
5. Stocking the appropriate number of fish in the fish tank that is in balance with the area of the grow tray

6. 24/7 aeration provided for the fish at all times (bubbles).


Aquaponics Systems MUST be Self Sustaining to Feed the Hungry

Aquaponics Systems MUST be Self Sustaining to Feed the Hungry 
– by Colle and Phyllis Davis

hands many colors2Please note: The majority of the food grown in Portable Farms® MUST be sold and not given away to those in need so the aquaponics operation becomes self-sustaining and is able to pay for the ongoing costs of seeds, fish food, water, electrical power, labor, etc. Most charitable funding eventually shifts to be reallocated to other projects. 

 

 

 

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 Portable Farms® 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 (even at a reduced price) to pay the necessary operating expenses for the Portable Farm, the operation has a chance for long-term survival in that community.

The allure of finding a way to provide food for those who need it most is an amazingly powerful desire for many to play a part to help keep society healthy and growing. However, the built-in problem is finding a way to accomplish this feat as a sustainable business model.

The question we ask those who call us regarding the use of Portable Farms® Aquaponics Systems in areas of charitable giving is, “How can you feed the ‘needy’ and make enough profit by selling food so the system pays for itself and has the funds to continue to operate over time?”

bizgroupThe answer to the question of feeding the hungry is vital to know because like any successful business or enterprise, there are ongoing costs that must be paid or even the best-intentions will eventually fail.

No foundation, grant, government agency, corporate sponsorship or individual contribution can continue to fund an operation forever and ever and ever. At some point, their priorities change or they are no longer able to ‘give’ and that funding ends.

 

 

 

please give ladyA different approach would be to have the installation operated by paid workers and using some of the food that is grown (fish and vegetables) be given to local food banks or other charity-distribution organizations (soup kitchens, shelters, etc.), and selling the rest to local food markets in the area, or you can sell the rest of the food at greatly reduced (lower) prices to make sure the installation at least breaks even and can continue to operate.

As a business model commercial aquaponics does not appear to be an ideal solution for urban food deserts and feeding the needy. But wait, there may be some structure that may work.

In inner cities with large populations, a professionally operated commercial aquaponics system could sell the produce locally and fulfill the mandates of producing food locally and feeding the hungry. Here is one possibility:

Working with an investor, foundation, charity or community group to fund the initial capital cost of the installation of a commercial aquaponics system and instead of focusing on the high-end restaurants, resort hotels, casinos, upscale markets, hospitals and prisons, focus instead on selling to the locals in the community. The locals can pay the going prices for the produce and the owners can realize a profit because the systems produce food very inexpensively and there are no transportation costs. If those who purchase the food are willing to donate some of the food they purchase back to those in need as a charitable contribution, it benefits everyone in the community.

Commercial aquaponics installations are ‘front end capital loaded,’ meaning that the initial cost is mostly in the building of the installation. The ongoing and operational expenses are very reasonable and easily covered from revenue.

aug 20 farm interior aquaponicsOne of the most compelling facets of the Portable Farms Aquaponics System is that it starts producing food and a cash flow within four to five weeks after completion.

A win: win is in order here. The ROI (return on investment) may get stretched out a bit longer than a typical ‘for profit venture,’ but the locals will have fresh, locally grown, pesticide free food that they can enjoy and at the same time, they have an opportunity to give back to their community. Expansion can also be funded by the cash flow from the commercial installation.

 

 

 

 

Carbon Neutral and Pesticide-Free Food Production

Carbon Neutral and Pesticide-Free Food Production 
By Colle and Phyllis Davis

Portable Farms® Aquaponics Systems is a carbon neutral and pesticide-free food production facility designed to use readily available off-the-shelf equipment and materials to grow healthy green vegetables including tomatoes, peppers, and cucumbers to raise your fish.

PFAS LLC’s goal is to provide our customers with the information and specialized components for year around production of vegetables and fresh fish without any outside energy (from off your property) involved. This carbon neutral system includes the use of solar, wood heat and geothermal energy and very careful planning. A complete solar-powered aquaponics system helps you be one of the least energy impactful families in the world.

March 13, 2017 – Copenhagen, Striving To Be Carbon-Neutral: Part 1, The Economic Payoffs  – Copenhagen has already reduced its carbon emissions by more than 40 percent since 1990. Some 98 percent of all heating in the city is done by energy-efficient district heating. “You won’t find any chimneys on the roofs, because you don’t find any individual heating in houses or flats,” Kabell explained.

Having your food production system in place makes you a powerful voice in your community because you are reducing stress on the environment and showing others how they can also live socially conscious and productive lives.

Families enjoy working together in aquaponics to plant and harvest the food, feed the fish and learn the natural process for the cycle of life that aquaponics offers. People of all ages can operate an aquaponics system with a few simple tasks that require only minutes per day of fun and interesting work.

Colle Davis, Lead Inventor, Portable Farms Aquaponics Systems

A personal note from Colle Davis, Lead Inventor, Portable Farms® Aquaponics Systems:

“PFAS LLC is happy with the success of our online Portable Farms Aquaponics Systems Course©. After satisfactory completion of our online course, we ship the Portable Farms® Kit to our students so they can build their own Portable Farm.  Most students complete this online course in about twelve hours. It’s self-paced, and you have one year to complete the course. Many families install a backyard aquaponics system over a weekend assuming they have some basic skills for home repair and have access to repair tools.

We’ve sold our Portable Farms® to families and groups in fifty US States, ten Canadian Provinces and to people in twenty countries (as of April 3, 2017).

Before offering the Portable Farms® Aquaponics Systems to the public in June 2008, I spent over 40 years working on and refining the idea that somehow a family or small group of people could have their food provided by themselves and live wonderfully productive lives.

Portable Farms® are designed to be bullet-proof and automated enough to allow the owner to walk away and leave the system running for up to 2 days with no attention needed at all.” – Colle Davis, Lead Inventor, Portable Farms® Aquaponics Systems

The following are possibilities that can be added to a Portable Farm to increase production or to reduce the energy requirements:

Solar: In the basic PFAS without supplemental lights, a 100-watt solar setup with MPPT and deep cycle battery will run a medium (up to 200 sg. ft.) Portable Farm. The basic solar-electrical system means the water will circulate, the air pumps will run continuously, and the heaters will keep the water at a reasonable temperature for the fish in the tank. You will need to size the solar much larger if you use grow lights of any kind.

LED or full spectrum fluorescent grow lights:  These are currently the most effective lighting system you can buy. The LED lights look weird, run hot and are expensive. The price is dropping fast, and that is making the other types of grow lights that produce much more heat quickly obsolete. The full spectrum fluorescent tubes are much less expensive, are nearly as effective and don’t last quite a long. We have had the best results with the fluorescent lights with four-tube fixtures.

Heating with wood: In any climate where the temperature remains below 60°F, you need to supplement the solar heating with a wood burning stove or another type of heat. Something as simple as a tiny cabin stove or as elaborate as a forced air, thermostatically controlled furnace. Using wood taken from the local area is incredibly effective recycling and yields amazing heat.

Geothermal energy is more expensive and complex to install, and there are many YouTube videos on how to install in a greenhouse. These are harder to adjust and will prevent your installation from freezing.

Wind power is a much trickier power source because of the storage problem with too much power at times. Heating water to use as a heat/power sink works well as does having a larger battery bank.

Each installation is different and starting with a climatically adapted structure to keep your plants and fish warm to guarantee aquaponics growing success. 80 to 85 degrees F is the ideal temperature range, but the plants still grow at temperatures from 60 degrees F to 100 degrees F but are optimally productive at the ideal temperature of 80 to 85 degrees F).

The use of 12-volt components is not as effective as using regular electrical components and an inverter to change the 12v power to 120 or 240v motors and heaters.

Here is one of our trade secrets: Keep your fish happy. The fish tanks in Portable Farms® Aquaponics are heated to a very pleasant 80 degrees F. Happy fish eat and poop and provide you with healthy plants.

Aquaponics Uses 90 to 95% LESS WATER than Traditional Agriculture.

Aquaponics Uses 90 to 95% LESS WATER than Traditional Agriculture.
– by Colle and Phyllis Davis
As global warming, the price of gas, drought conditions and desertification continue to impact agriculture, the world is aggressively looking for new ways to grow food locally, using less water than is required by traditional agricultural methods. 75% of available water is used in agriculture and that potable water is becoming scarce – on  a global scale.

Image result for drought map global 2017

Being protective and adopting an attitude of sustainability is key to the future for a prosperous and healthy world. The earth has 7.4 billion inhabitants  The United Nations estimates it will further increase to 11.2 billion in the year 2100.

Portable Farms® Aquaponics Systems require 95% LESS water than in-ground growing. PLUS, they produce the ready availability of a protein source though the growing of fish. Dr. Latham, Director of the Program in International Nutrition at Cornell University claims that malnutrition is a frequent cause of death and disease in third world countries. Protein-energy malnutrition (PEM) affects 500 million people and kills 10 million annually.

Image result for world drought map

This map shows the results of computer models that have
projected the risk of drought for the years 2030 to 2039. 

This saltwater-cooled greenhouse grows crops in the Sahara are an example of using the most abundant natural resources available to make a new kind of farming possible. Read that sentence again, the key word is at the end, possible.

The cost of the installation was so high that the investment will never be recouped and the system will probably never be duplicated. It is another example of a solution in search of a problem where the solution is so expensive that it will not impact the problem in any meaningful way.

biblettuce1

 

 

But affordable food can be grown YEAR ROUND in aquaponics systems in the deserts, mountains, urban areas, warehouses or backyards! Building a modern climatically adapted structure containing modern aquaponics systems placed near high-end restaurants, casinos, resort hotels and other markets which demand the finest foods, results in a very attractive ROI. Add to that the initial PR buzz and the attraction of more investors being drawn into the space where they can take advantage of the new technology. Every installation has to be tailored to the area it will be build in order to be designed and built to leverage the advantage of the location.

 

 

 

greenhouse4The desert is also one of the best places to collect and use solar energy to power plant and fish growing systems. The time of day when the highest utilization takes place in an aquaponics system is during the day when the sun in nearly always bring and shiny. The demand for energy drops off before sunset and drops to a minimum requirement during the night hours.

If you live in a desert climate or almost anywhere there is adequate sunlight most of the time then a Portable Farms® Aquaponics Systems installed in a climatically adapted structure will make your life much safer, more secure and you will have the best food in the world at your fingertips.

Portable Farms® Aquaponics Systems  Are the Most 
Productive and Reliable Aquaponics Systems in the World

  • Without the use of any pesticides, harsh chemicals, antibiotics or hormones. 

  • Portable Farms® use 95% less water than traditional agricultural methods.

  • Portable Farms® use less electrical power than any other aquaponics system in the world and can be solar or wind powered.

  • Portable Farms® provide table vegetables (greens and blooming plants such as tomatoes, peppers, etc.) and fish (tilapia) as a protein source to maintain optimal health.

  • Three people can operate one-quarter of an acre of Portable Farms® which feeds 240 people forever. Twelve people can operate one acre of Portable Farms® which feeds 1,000 people forever.

  • Portable Farms® can be operated by semi-skilled labor and people of almost any age (young and old).

  • Greens grown in Portable Farms® can be harvested in as few as 28 days after installation and continue producing forever .

  • Portable Farms® feed families, communities, cities, countries and the world.

Cucumbers Are BIG MONEY When Grown in Portable Farms

Portable Farm Cucumbers Harvested February 9, 2012

Harvested cucumbers from a Portable Farm.

Cucumbers Are BIG MONEY When Grown in Portable Farms®
by Colle and Phyllis Davis

Cucumbers are delicious in salads, as a side dish garnished with vinegar and spices, as part of a refreshing addition to a relish tray or even sliced and served on a sandwich!

The cucumber has long been known as a summer ‘fruit.’ Yes, the cucumber is considered a fruit but used as a vegetable. When cucumbers are grown in a Portable Farms Aquaponics System, they can be grown YEAR ROUND and sold to local customers as organic food for top prices. In fact, (this surprised us as well) cucumbers grown in our Portable Farms are a better cash crop than even basil!

If cucumbers grown in a Portable Farms® Aquaponics Systems are planted, raised and sold as ‘organic,’ the grower can receive higher prices based on their organic origins further reducing the ROI than stated in this article.

Cucumber production begins 60 to 70 days after seeding.  For good production, a temperature range of 75 degrees to 80 degrees F during the day is desirable.  While peak daytime temperatures of 85 degrees to 95 degrees F are tolerable, prolonged periods of high temperatures may adversely affect fruit quality.  Night temperatures no lower than 65 degrees F will allow a rapid growth rate and earliest fruit production.  At 55 degrees to 60 degrees F, savings in fuel costs will be significant, but growth rate will be slower and harvest will be delayed.

This is a simple diagram of a Portable Farms Aquaponics System

This is a simple diagram of one module a Portable Farms Aquaponics System

Fruit generally grows to market maturity 12 to 15 days after the flower opens.

Considering these variables, yields range from 1 – 1 ½ to 3 pounds of fruit per plant per week, during mid-harvest on an umbrella trained crop.  Twenty to twenty-five fruit may be expected over a 10 to 12 week harvest period.

Cucumber production from a single full size 5′ x 40′ (200sq ft) [1.5m x 12m (18m2) Grow Tray:

  • Each Grow Tray can hold 106 plants 18in x 12in (45cm x 30cm) centers and are planted twice a year
  • Production is normally over a 10 to 12 week period
  • Because the plants spread out so much they need to be trained in a V shape or directly vertical
  • Plants may require some pruning
  • The staking or trellising can be installed permanently
  • Cucumbers yield is between 1.5 and 3 lbs [0.7 and 1.3k] per plant per week depending on variety
  • Yield per plant is 20 to 25 cucumbers per plant depending on variety
  • No pesticides, fungicides or artificial fertilizers are ever used
  • Cucumbers can be harvested and used the same day for peak flavor and texture plus they store well
  • Yields 4,000 lbs to 4,500 lbs [1,800 to 2045kg] per year per Grow Tray
  • 85lbs [38kg] per week
  • 11.7lbs [5kg] per day

Colle Davis, Inventor, with fresh cucumbers from Portable Farms

Each Module contains one Grow Tray, one Fish Tank and one Clarifier. The components to make the Module functional also include a special pump and valve system, a control panel, air pumps and related hardware and wiring.

Labor costs are higher than with lettuce because of the training and harvesting of cucumbers. This is true for tomatoes, zucchini, peppers and any plant that requires extra time after planting. Lettuces does not, plant it and then a few weeks later harvest it and plant the same place again. One person can operate a 10,000 sq ft PFAS if they are only growing lettuce. With other bush or vine crops two to four additional personnel are required.

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.
This greenhouse is 16′ x 33′ (528 square feet) and contains 264 square feet of Grow Tray space.

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.

Because of improvements in our seed choices, planting methods and technology, our farm is exploding with fresh food after only 40 days. The 450 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
  • Green Peppers
  • Swiss Chard
  • Cucumbers
  • Over 100 varieties of Lettuce
  • Jalapeño Peppers
  • Dozens of varieties of tomatoes
  • India Mustard
  • Chinese Cabbage
  • Long Green Beans
  • Dozens of varieties of Asian greens
  • Boc Choi
  • Kale
  • Eggplant
  • A variety of herbs

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.

 

Cheap Aquaponics “Startup Fish”

Cheap Aquaponics “Startup Fish”
– by Colle and Phyllis Davis

“Can we use goldfish or crayfish or something besides tilapia in our backyard aquaponics system?”

gowithflowThis is a frequently asked question and prompted a conversation with a new ‘aquaponist’ at my local Home Depot store which has prompted me to make a list of the fish that can be used in aquaponics for new aquaponics farmers to get started with because of choice or local regulations or restrictions.

The gentleman in the plumbing section of Home Depot had to help me find a component we use to manufacture the PFAS Kits and he asked me what I was using so many, I told him they were used in our manufacturing process. He said, (you will not believe this), ‘Oh, are you doing aquaponics?’

I nearly fell down from surprise. He explained that he had a small aquaponics system in his backyard and was using goldfish poop to raise the most amazing basil and peppers he had ever seen. It’s a small world to meet someone with an aquaponics system that actually guessed what I was building. His explanation was that another fellow builds hydroponic systems for people and uses the same item in a very different way. But back on topic. . .

The list of aquatic animals below includes enough species so you can get started today with a tiny aquaponics system to learn and grow with to see how amazing the technology really is at growing vegetables and fish. My original setup was a dishpan with aquarium gravel laid across an aquarium. The fish happened to be tilapia because it was my job at UC Davis (back in the early 1970’s) to clean the fish tanks, a nasty smelly job.

Each species has different requirements and are more or less hardy and easy to maintain. The list below is not all-inclusive, but is meant to be a basis for an inexpensive beginner aquaponics setup so you can get your hands wet.

Species Positive Cost Negative
Goldfish Hardy, readily available, poop a lot Cheap Tough to find a constant market – not for eating
Koi Hardy, readily salable as ornamentals, can be fed cheap dog food, do not have to replace very often Relatively cheap No one eats them, limited market
Catfish Hardy, grow fast, seasonally available, chow is commercially available Relatively cheap Seasonal availability of fry and depressed markets
Carp Really hardy, fast growing, will eat almost anything May be tricky to obtain fry No food market in US
Crayfish/Prawns Can be raised in conjunction with any other fin fish or by themselves. Relatively inexpensive to obtain Most are cannibalistic and must be provided housing (short sections of PVC pipe) to keep any number to harvest size.
Perch New candidate – Feed just becoming available Not cheap Regional markets only
Bass Not recommended because you have to feed them live bait Relatively inexpensive Fish and Wildlife regulations on sale for food

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

By providing these fish with a clean water supply, aeration and food, you are ensuring a constant supply of the finest poop your system can handle.

Two caveats here:

  1. You will lose fish – this means some of them will die. Get used to it, its farming.
  2. Unless you are using the PFAS, you will have problems with sediment in the gravel so you will have to clean the gravel occasionally. Get used to it, its farming.

With the PFAS the #2 above is not true. Oh, and to use the PFAS you will need to complete the Aquaponics University Portable Farms Aquaponics Systems Course©.


Jump Start Your Summer Growing with an Aquaponics System

Jump Start Your Summer Growing.
Better YET . . . Grow Food for your Family YEAR ROUND in any Weather!
– by Colle and Phyllis Davis

Small Portable Farms Aquaponics System

Small Portable Farms Aquaponics System

1. Determine the SIZE for your aquaponics system: Portable Farms® Aquaponics Systems are high intensity food production systems that produce prodigious amounts of food year round in any climate. Here is the formula for correctly sizing your backyard aquaponics system. In a highly effective system with gravel as the medium base, a tray space of 25 to 30 sq. ft. will feed one adult their table vegetables year round – FOREVER. Use the number of people you want to feed times (x) the 25 sq. ft. required for each person and the resulting figure will be the size of grow tray space you will need.

For example: You have four people in the house (any child over the age of 11 eats like an adult) times 25 sq. ft. equals 100 sq. ft. of grow tray space. A grow tray that measure 5 ft. x 20 ft. long (6 ft. x 16 ft.) will be the perfect size. This size tray will fit comfortably inside a 10 x 24 ft. (or a 12 x 20 ft.) greenhouse.

A second example: There are 8 people you wish to feed. 8 people x 25 sq. ft. per person equals – 200 sq. ft.

The formula of number of people times the 25 sq. ft. required to feed them can be applied no matter what the number of people you want to feed. A commercial installation with 10,000 sq. feet of enclosed space provides 6,000 sq. ft. of grow space and will feed 240 people.

2. Find the ideal location in your backyard for your Portable Farms® Aquaponics System that has at least six hours of direct sunlight available in the chosen location. If you don’t have an area to receive 6 hours of sunlight, you must supplement the lighting to provide your vegetables with grow lights. Or, can you use an existing building, or extend an existing building to save money and reduce the carbon footprint?

3. Explore the materials that are required for the grow trays and other items that are required for your system to operate at its peak. We supply this list of materials in our course Portable Farms® Aquaponics Systems Course©.

4. Learn the actual operation of your new aquaponics installation regarding ways you can be assured that you will be operating it effectively and not kill fish or plants.


Precision Growing in Aquaponics Systems

Precision Growing with Portable Farms® Aquaponics Systems
– by Colle and Phyllis Davis

interior jan 14 2013Precision growing is defined as ‘delivering the exact nutrients and other requirements that are needed by growing plants at exactly the right time in the exactly the required amounts.’

The growing space is utilized in a much more efficient and effective manner. The water’s pH and carefully timed delivery system as well as the addition of macro-nutrients and micro-nutrients are all very important to successful growing results. So are the available light level and intensity and the temperature and the air flow in the building. Delivering each requirement at all times results in maximum yields in record growing times. The added expenses of these high tech growing systems are very quickly offset by the dramatic increases in yields.

Controlled environment agricultural growing is very quickly becoming the state-of-the-art production because of the multitude of advantages. These include:

      • Extended growing season – often year round
      • Greatly reduced consumption of water even with in-ground growing methods
      • Less expensive and more accurate pest control – often pests are eliminated as a problem
      • Growing is placed much nearer to markets in many cases
      • Less chance for crop losses due to weather, pests, water loss and theft
      • More efficient use of fertilizers and nutrients used for maximum production
      • Custom and high-value crops easier to grow for local markets.
Phylis Davis harvesting fresh greens.

Phylis Davis harvesting fresh greens.

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. PFAS also has other advantages:

      • 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

 

Phyllis Davis harvesting ripe delicious tomatoes ranging from one-half pound to two pounds per tomato.

Phyllis Davis harvesting ripe delicious tomatoes ranging from one-half pound to two pounds per tomato.

For 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 (tomatos, cucumbers, beans, peppers, etc.)
      • 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.


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