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2009 aquaponics journal

  1. 1. Issue #55 4th quarter, 2009 ® Issue # 55 Aquaponics Journal www.aquaponicsjournal.com 4th qtr, 2009 Experiencing Aquaponics at UVI New Aquaponic Ventures in Wisconsin Yandina Aquaponics Project Launched Developments in Plant Lighting Plus... Editor’s Note Industry News Q and A by Dr. James Rakocy Aquaponics Around the World Happenings Aquaponics is the combination of aquaculture (fish farming) and hydroponics (growing plants without soil). 1
  2. 2. Issue # 55 Aquaponics Journal www.aquaponicsjournal.com 4th qtr, 2009 Editor’s Note: 2009 has brought some new developments to aquaponics and some exciting The Aquaponics Journal is changes for our company, Nelson and Pade, Inc. Aquaponics continues to published quarterly by gain momentum and recognition as we introduce this concept to more and Nelson and Pade, Inc. more individuals through this journal, our website, promotional efforts, Montello, WI, USA workshops, consulting, books and other materials. The demand for the copyright 2009 services, systems and supplies that Nelson and Pade, Inc. offers is growing all rights reserved and, as a direct result, so is our company. We are happy to announce that we have recently purchased a 12 acre property in Montello, WI with office Electronic Subscription: and warehouse space. System assembly and order fulfillment, as well as $29/year the daily operations will take place here. As I wrap up this issue, we are preparing our new business location for our use and beginning the process Printed Subscription: of moving. This new location will provide us a platform to continue grow- $39/year - within the US ing in a well-organized and structured manner and space we need to con- $49/year - Canada, Mexico tinue serving our new and existing customers. $69/year - All other countries includes First Class postage Also, in response to our growth, we have expanded our staff and welcome Kathleen Paynter in customer relations and Dusan Vystrcil as an aq- For subscription or advertising uaponics technician. Our workshop and training opportunities are grow- information, please contact: ing as well and in the next issue I will be announcing new programs and other news about these developments . Two other notes in the new category: Nelson and Pade, Inc. has a new logo and in early December we will be launching a completely new website with Nelson and Pade, Inc. even more information than ever. We have added new aquaponic systems PO Box 761, and supplies to our product offerings and more information to help you Montello, WI 53949, USA learn about aquaponics. 608-297-8708 Fax: 866-815-9734 Until next time, Rebecca e-mail: info@aquaponics.com www.aquaponicsjournal.com www.aquaponics.com Editor, Co-Publisher: Rebecca L. Nelson Co-Publisher John S. Pade Contributing Authors: Lisa Forsthovel Ron Mitchell Rebecca L. Nelson John S. Pade Dr. James Rakocy Geoff Wilson 2
  3. 3. Issue # 55 Aquaponics Journal www.aquaponicsjournal.com 4th qtr, 2009 In This Issue Feature Articles 20 Wisconsin Home to Two New Aquaponic Greenhouses Rebecca Nelson introduces readers to two new, innovative aquaponic greenhouse businesses in Wisconsin. 23 Restaurant Serves Fish… Fresh! Geoff Wilson shares his experience at a seafood restaurant in Malaysia and how he believes it might be a theme for aquaponic growers. 24 Experiencing Aquaponics at UVI In an article she wrote during an Internship at the University of the Virgin Islands Agriculture Experiment Station, Lisa Forsthovel explains what brought her there and what she is learning as a result. 26 Developments in Plant Lighting An expert in controlled environment systems and plant lighting, Ron Mitchell explains new developments in highly efficient, low energy lighting. 28 Yandina Project Launched After much planning, the Yandina Community Demonstration aquaponics project has been launched in Queensland, Australia. Geoff Wilson explains. 32 Australian Couple Venture into Aquaponics Geoff Wilson contributes this story on Murray and Gail Hallam, an Australian couple who have become suppliers of aquaponic systems. 38 Acclimating Fish to Your System In this installment of the “Do It” how-to column, Rebecca Nelson explains how to acclimate fish to reduce stress and increase success. Departments: On the cover: 2 Editor’s Note Lisa Forsthovel showing 4 Industry News off some of the lettuce 14 Aquaponics Around the World she planted while intern- 16 Q and A by Dr. James Rakocy ing at the University of the Virgin Islands. 34 Back Issue List See related article on 38 Happenings page 24. 3
  4. 4. Issue # 55 Aquaponics Journal www.aquaponicsjournal.com 4th qtr, 2009 Industry News 50% of Fish Consumed is Now Farm Raised Global—Aquaculture, once a fledgling industry, now salmon, are a major source of these omega-3s, which accounts for 50 percent of the fish consumed globally, are effective in reducing the risk of cardiovascular according to a new report by an international team of disease, according to the National Institutes of researchers. And while the industry is more efficient Health. than ever, it is also putting a significant strain on ma- rine resources by consuming large amounts of feed “The huge expansion is being driven by demand,” made from wild fish harvested from the sea, the au- said lead author Rosamond L. Naylor, a professor of thors conclude. Their findings are published in the Sep- environmental Earth system science at Stanford Uni- tember 7th online edition of the Proceedings of the versity and director of the Stanford Program on Food National Academy of Sciences (PNAS). Security and the Environment. “As long as we are a health-conscious population trying to get our most “Aquaculture is set to reach a landmark in 2009, sup- healthy oils from fish, we are going to be demanding plying half of the total fish and shellfish for human con- more of aquaculture and putting a lot of pressure on sumption,” the authors wrote. Between 1995 and marine fisheries to meet that need.” 2007, global production of farmed fish nearly tripled in volume, in part because of rising consumer demand for In 2006, aquaculture production was 51.7 million long-chain omega-3 fatty acids. Oily fish, such as metric tons, and about 20 million metric tons of wild fish were harvested for the production of fishmeal. “It can take up to 5 pounds of wild fish to produce 1 pound of salmon, and we eat a lot of salmon,” said Naylor, the William Wrigley Senior Fellow at Stan- ford's Woods Institute for the Environment and Free- man Spogli Institute for International Studies. Naylor and her co-authors pointed to several fish- feed substitutes currently being investigated, includ- ing protein made from grain and livestock byprod- ucts, and long-chain omega-3 oils extracted from single-cell microorganisms and genetically modified land plants. “With appropriate economic and regula- tory incentives, the transition toward alternative feedstuffs could accelerate, paving the way for a con- sensus that aquaculture is aiding the ocean, not de- pleting it,” the authors wrote. Fishmeal and fish oil are important staples at farms that produce carnivorous fish, including salmon, trout and tuna. But vegetarian species, such as Chi- nese carp and tilapia, can be raised on feed made from plants instead of wild-caught fish. That's one reason why farm-raised vegetarian fish have long been considered environmentally friendly. 4
  5. 5. Issue # 55 Aquaponics Journal www.aquaponicsjournal.com 4th qtr, 2009 Industry News New Aquaponic Venture at Landfill Site in Vermont Brattleboro, Vermont, USA—New innovation is coming to the site of one of the first landfill-based methane generators in the US. A Burlington company plans to turn the Brattleboro methane facility into a collection of mutually beneficial businesses including aquaponics. The facility will be a model of efficient resource management. In the early 1980’s methane collection equipment and a methane generator were installed at the Brattleboro landfill and electricity produced from methane was sold to the local power company. In 1995 the landfill was closed and the then outdated generator disconnected. At that point, the Waste District began burning off the methane. Don McCormick, founder of Carbon Harvest Energy and previous owner of Laughing Duck Farm, a small aquaponic farm that operated in New York, plans to revive the concept of utilizing the methane rather than burning it. Carbon Harvest Energy has a contract with the 19-town district and plans to spend $1.8 million dollars modernizing the plant. An aq- uaponic greenhouse that will utilize the methane for heating will be built on the landfill site. Nutrients from the culture of fish will be used to raise vegetable crops. This integrated system utilizing waste heat will likely inspire other busi- nesses to take advantage of their resources and full responsibility for their waste. Urban Food Initiative in Toronto Includes Aquaponics Toronto, Ontario, Canada—The award-winning PACT Youth Crime Reduction Program, a business-led charity has created a holistic set of life-skills and environmental projects for high schools in Toronto to create an environmental culture, ensure healthy communities, and further the goal of prevention through engaging youth. PACT, which works to build peace in urban communities in partnership with the courts and schools, is officially launching "Grow to Learn" an urban food initiative that helps create an environmental ethos at schools across the city while ensuring a sustainable source of produce to food banks across the city. Planning began in late 2008 and starting in June 2009, students, teachers, volunteers and PACT leaders had converted bare grass into veritable food gardens at two schools - Sir Sandford Fleming in Lawrence Heights and West Humber Collegiate Institute in Rexdale. The outdoor classrooms have vegetable beds, fruit orchards, naturalized perimeters of native shrubs, perennials and berry bushes. The organic produce grown in the two schools is already being donated weekly to local food banks in their surrounding neighborhoods and used in the schools' PACT cooking programs. The PACT Greenhouse Initiative, works with "Grow to Learn" to promote food security, teach relevant skills to at-risk youth, champion a sustainable food production system and facilitate innovative design. This initiative will design, build and operate portable, off-the-grid greenhouses capable of providing fresh, organic produce to local food banks year-round. The first phase, presently underway, involves the research and design of a cutting edge prototype greenhouse. * The second phase will engage, empower and educate at-risk youth as they participate in the team-based greenhouse con- struction program. A focus on alternative energy and green building techniques will open up the options for students to pur- sue a higher green/environmental education and to enter the growing "green collar" job market. * In the third phase students and neighborhood volunteers will be trained in greenhouse operation and the agricultural method of aquaponics. Aquaponics, the use of a closed ecosystem to grow both plants and fish, is a sustainable food produc- tion system that is ideal for urban centers. * The final phase involves the collaboration with local food banks to ensure that the nutritious food donated makes it to the tables of those in need. PACT also has a "Build" program that ensures handy youth have an opportunity to be employed building garden sheds and fencing for each garden. For further information: http://www.pactprogram.ca/ 5
  6. 6. Issue # 55 Aquaponics Journal www.aquaponicsjournal.com 4th qtr, 2009 Industry News Nelson and Pade, Inc Receives Agribusiness Ohio Students of the Year Award Explore Aquaponics Middletown, Ohio, USA— Montello, WI, USA—Nelson and Pade, Inc, a company that Students at D. Russel Lee High provides aquaponic technology, systems and supplies, was School will get a whole new named Agri-Business of the Year at the Tri-County Economic hands-on approach to science Development Summit, which took place in Montello, WI, Oc- this year in a green environ- tober 29, 2009. mental science class. Bill Wheeler, Teacher Kevin Thacker said Executive students will be learning aq- Director of uaponics by conducting labo- the Tri- ratory studies in a green house County De- that has a tank of 350 gallons velopment of water and 100 pounds of Corp pre- tilapia powered by 60 watts of sented the electricity. The bacteria pro- award. duced from the waste of the tropical — and edible — fish Rebecca Nel- will fertilize a garden. Some son, Nelson new vocabulary words they and Pade, will add to their list include Inc., spoke at Left to right: Kathleen Paynter and Rebecca hydroponics — the cultivating the Summit, Nelson, Nelson and Pade, Inc.; Bill Wheeler, Tri- of plants with roots in oxygen- sharing infor- County Economic Development Corp. ated water instead of soil — mation about and aquaculture —the com- aquaponics and the role Nelson and Pade, Inc. has played in mercial raising of fish in tanks developing this industry over the past 20 years. for food or stocking. Nelson comments, “It is an honor to be recognized for our ef- Not only will students learn to forts in aquaponics and sustainable agriculture. This technol- manage a self-sustaining eco- ogy is redefining agriculture, allowing aquaponic growers to system, he said other groups produce premium quality crops close to the marketplace. Aq- will benefit from the experi- uaponics can be a profitable venture, a fascinating hobby, a ments. Culinary Arts students hands-on learning tool in school or a source of protein and will be able to cook the fish vegetable crops in a village anywhere in the world.” and the vegetables grown, and the day care children will be Wisconsin is a state known for a strong agriculture industry. able to come by and watch the With Nelson and Pade, Inc.’s presence and several new com- fish swim through a small win- mercial aquaponic operations, it is now dominating the aq- dow in the tank. uaponics industry. 6
  7. 7. Issue # 55 Aquaponics Journal www.aquaponicsjournal.com 4th qtr, 2009 Aquaponic This is the book about aquaponics Food that you’ve Production been waiting for! raising fish and plants for food and profit Released July, 2008 218 pages, 37 color and 14 grayscale photos and drawings This informative and comprehensive book covers aq- uaponics in a detailed yet reader-friendly manner. The text is complimented with over fifty drawings and photos, most of them in full color. For a complete description, chapter list and sample pages, visit www.aquaponcis.com. ISBN: 978-0-9779696-1-6 Published by: Nelson and Pade, Inc, July, 2008 Visit www.aquaponics.com or call 608-297-8708 Introduction to Aquaponics Video Contents: Now available on Introduction to Aquaponics History and Applications • VHS (12 chapter video) $29.95 System Components System Designs • DVD (12 chapter video) Daily Operation $29.95 Water Quality Dynamics • DVD PLUS Fish and Plant Selection $49.95 (12 Environmental Conditions chapter Additional Information video plus complete set Greenhouses of 2008 Aq- Environmental Control uaponics Considerations for a Journal back Commercial Operation issues Nelson and Pade, Inc. www.aquaponics.com PO Box 761, Montello WI 53949 608-297-8708 7
  8. 8. Issue # 55 Aquaponics Journal www.aquaponicsjournal.com 4th qtr, 2009 Industry News “Naturally Grown” an Alternative Backyard to Organic Certification Aquaponics Certified Naturally Grown is a non-profit alternative certification program Receives tailored for small-scale, direct-market farmers using natural methods. Nearly 700 farmers from 48 states are enrolled to use the Certified Natu- Sustainability rally Grown label. Award When USDA's Organic program was implemented in 2002, many farms Success, Western Australia— earning more than $5,000 per year were forced to make a difficult choice: Backyard Aquaponics was an- either pay high certification fees and complete mounds of paperwork to nounced the winner of the Sus- become Certified Organic, or else give up using the word "organic" to de- tainability Award in the small busi- scribe their produce and/or livestock. ness category of the Cockburn Council “A Better Tomorrow” Sus- Believing that neither choice was very attractive, some farmers created tainability Awards. Certified Naturally Grown to provide an alternative way to assure their cus- tomers that they observed strict growing practices. CNG strives to Established in 2007, Backyard Aq- strengthen the organic movement by removing financial barriers to certifi- uaponics uses a philosophy of a cation that tend to exclude smaller direct-market farms, while preserving closed system and sustainable high standards for natural production methods. food production while minimizing the input of water, power and nu- For more information on Certified Naturally Grown, visit trients. www.naturallygrown.org The style of food production (vegetables, herbs and protein sourced from fish) uses 90 per cent less water than crops grown Special Offer! in soil – the food plants clean the water by absorbing nutrients pro- All 55 issues of duced by growing fish and clean, aerated water is then re-circulated back to the fish. Aquaponics Journal Educating the community through a website and e-zines, the Back- for $99 yard Aquaponics range now in- cludes books, DVDs and a regular magazine and has expanded to This is a limited time offer include three food-growing system Visit www.aquaponicsjournal.com solutions. Or call 608-297-8708 for more information Backyard Aquaponics is located in Success, Western Australia. www.backyardaquaponics.com 8
  9. 9. Issue # 55 Aquaponics Journal www.aquaponicsjournal.com 4th qtr, 2009 Industry News Midwest Value Added Ag Conference and Local Food Summit Eau Claire, WI, USA—On January 21st and 22nd, 2010, at the Ramada Convention Center in Eau Claire, WI, the Wisconsin Local Food Summit and the Midwest Value Added Agriculture Conference will again be joining efforts to provide educational sessions and networking opportunities that can really make a difference for farmers, pro- ducers and their advocates. The theme for the upcoming event is Road to Opportunities and the organizers are committed to providing opportunities for those in attendance to increase the value of the products they grow and raise. This event is geared towards farmers, ag suppliers and distributors; agricultural educators, service providers and agencies; farmers market managers and vendors; local food buyers and advocates as well as sustainable agricul- ture enthusiasts. Rich Purdy, President of River Country RC&D noted that adding value to local products strengthens our local economy and makes it and producers more sustainable. The conference and summit breakout sessions are organized into six topic area tracks: Bio-Energy, Building a Regional Food Community, Business Management, Marketing, Value Added Production and Local Food Project Updates. The food served throughout the conference will be from local sources. This year, for the first time, the conference and summit will be preceded by the Value Added Agriculture College on Wednesday, January 20th, 2010. The college will consist of half and full day workshops. The topics include: Post Harvest Handling for Vegetable Production Quality and Success; Making Decisions About Local Food Sales Opportunities Using the Holistic Management Framework"; Practical Agroforestry and Permaculture: Creating your Disaster Proof, Perennial Farm; Shaking the Federal Money Tree; Food Safety on the Market Farm; Wiscon- sin Acidified Canned Foods Training for Small Food Processors; and QuickBooks 101. Bridget Holcomb, a member of the Wisconsin Local Food Consumers Choose Local Network steering committee and Associate Policy Direc- tor for the Michael Fields Agricultural Institute noted that Minnesota, USA—A recent University of Minne- "this conference demonstrates how local foods are not sota survey published in the American Society for just a fad. This is economic development and a bright Horticultural Science's Hortscience found that, of spot in our current economy. Through this conference we 365 attendees at the Minnesota State Fair polled, are continuing to look for ways to expand this market to consumers said they were willing to pay a pre- help our farmers and the state." mium for both organic and local produce, and that they'd be willing to pay about the same amount The hosts for the 4th Annual Wisconsin Local Food Sum- for each. But when it comes to actual purchases, mit and the 12th Annual Midwest Value Added Agricul- consumers say they buy local much more fre- ture Conference are: Wisconsin Local Food Network, quently, with 54% saying they always or most River Country Resource Conservation and Development times purchase local food, compared to just 21% Council, Inc. and Hiawatha Valley Resource Conservation who say the same of organic food. and Development Council, Inc. Part of the reason seems to be in what people To learn more about the conference and summit go to: value most about the vegetables and fruit they http://www.rivercountryrcd.org/valad.html purchase: That they are fresh, safe to eat and healthy. 9
  10. 10. Issue # 55 Aquaponics Journal www.aquaponicsjournal.com 4th qtr, 2009 Industry News Manhattan School for Children Building Rooftop Greenhouse The Manhattan School for Children - PS333 is building a rooftop environmental education center and food production facility on the Upper West Side of New York City. The center will use hydroponics' greenhouse technology, powered by renewable energy, to grow food in the heart of the city. The rooftop learning laboratory will provide a unique facility for the hands- on learning of science concepts including environmental sustainability, food production and nutrition. The Problem Our growing population combined with today's high levels of consumption is putting extraordinary pressure on the environment. Urban areas increasingly depend on massive amounts of water, food, energy, construction ma- terials and other resources for our daily use. This is only one piece of today's global environmental problem that has to be addressed by local actions with long-term solutions. The Solution The Greenhouse Project at Manhattan School for Children - PS333 is a pilot program to construct environmental science laboratories on the rooftops of NYC public schools. The idea was conceived by a group of NYC parents and educators, who dis- covered that environmental science education is lacking within the NYC public school system, and that many schools have vacant roof-tops which could serve as ideal spaces for hands-on learning facilities. A Greenhouse Project Laboratory will typically be built as a traditional greenhouse to accommodate an urban farm and environmental science laboratory. Grade school children will grow food, while learning hands-on about nutrition, water resource management, efficient land use, climate change, biodi- versity, conservation, contamination, pollution, waste management, and sustainable development. To facilitate a hands-on learning environment, the greenhouse will include solar panels, a hydroponics' growing system, a rainwater catchment system, a weather station and a kitchen corner. In addition to enhancing the school's science curriculum, the Greenhouse Project will enrich the arts and social studies curricula as well, by relating nature to culture. Students will learn the relationship between humans and the environment and will gain a greater appreciation of sustainable development and its direct relationship to cultural diversity. In addition to serving the daily academic needs of the student population the greenhouse will serve as a site for teacher education and professional development through school day collaborations with neighboring institu- tions, as well as after school and weekend workshops for teachers and students. These activities will help to ex- pand the scope of its reach while offering the perfect environment for educational research. 10
  11. 11. Issue # 55 Aquaponics Journal www.aquaponicsjournal.com 4th qtr, 2009 Industry News The Curriculum About PS 333 The Greenhouse Project Laboratory provides the context for hands-on, project based The Manhattan School science education. Science content addressed in the curriculum will include topics in for Children (MSC) PS biology, chemistry, physics, earth sciences, and the living environment. 333 is a K-8th grade public school founded in While the main focus of this curriculum is to enhance the sciences in the school, its the early 1990s through scope is much bigger than just science. We will be using themes such as food, cul- a cooperative effort of ture, health and the environment. We will be integrating these four themes, looking parents, teachers and at where our food comes from and how it is produced, how culture shapes our staff members of New choices and our behavior, the relationship between our choices and our health, and York City's Community the links between our food and the environment. School District 3. It is a school of choice open to In order to solve interdisciplinary problems, students practice a variety of skills and children who are zoned strategies, including gathering and processing information and making connections to district 3 serving ap- among the common themes of mathematics, science, and technology. Process skills proximately 700 stu- include scientific thinking, utilization of science tools and technologies, scientific in- dents from diverse back- vestigation, and effective science communication. grounds, cultures and physical abilities. MSC is an empowerment The Components school as well as a men- Touch-Screen Display of Energy and Weather Systems tor for the Department Solar Panels: Building-Integrated Photovoltaic Cells of Education collabora- Rainwater Capture Systems tive community. It is Evaporative Cooling System modeled on the philoso- Nutrient Film Technique pher John Dewey's con- Helical NFT cept of a community of Vine Crop System learners and Howard Aquaponic System Gardner's understanding Compost Station of multiple forms of in- Raised Soil Beds telligence and styles of Integrative Pest Management System learning. The Design Proposed new www.thegreenhouseproject.info greenhouse The Greenhouse Project at PS 333 P.O. Box 20303 (PWF) New York, NY 10025 11
  12. 12. Issue # 55 Aquaponics Journal www.aquaponicsjournal.com 4th qtr, 2009 Industry News Urban Aquaponics Conference, Brisbane, Feb 2010 Brisbane, Queensland, Aus- Aquaponics in LED-lit (Light tralia—The world’s first ur- Emitting Diodes) operations ban aquaponics conference deep inside buildings. The will now be held in Brisbane technology operates 24 on February 18 and 19, 2010, hours a day, uses solar or by the Aquaponics Network other sustainable energy, and Australia (ANA). The Urban extends the aquaponics tech- Aquaponics Conference is expected to attract around 250 nology to the kind of “protected agriculture” likely to be attendees, mostly from Australia and 14 neighboring coun- required if and when climate change weather turns violent. tries. The Urban Aquaponics Conference next February is a West- Urban aquaponics is practicing aquaponics on rooftops or ern Pacific lead-up to the “Cities Alive Australia” World inside buildings in “protected” food production using solar Green Infrastructure Congress in Brisbane, Queensland from energy and recycling of nutrients from clean urban organic October 17 to 20 in 2012, organized by Green Roofs Austra- matter. lia Inc. GRA Inc has chosen four major themes for its World Green Infrastructure (“Cities Alive Australia”) congress. The conference venue is the Brisbane Technology Park con- They are: ference centre on Miles Platting Road in Eight Mile Plains, • Climate change action planning. about 20 kilometers from the Brisbane airport. The confer- • Non-municipal water supply management. ence will have four main streams over two days. Cost to ANA members is $250 (Australian Dollars) a day, and non- • Much-enhanced solar power advancement. members $350 a day. The content and display streams are: • Food from the roof (including aquaponics). Integrations of aquaponics systems with green walls, green Aquaponics and vermiculture technologies are expected to roofs, solar and other sustainable energy sources, rain-water become a strong feature of green roofs and green walls de- harvesting, storage and use, recycling of “grey water”, and velopment in Australia through research by the Central recycling of clean organic matter for fish feed via vemicul- Queensland University and by other Australian universities ture/insect culture. and companies. “Food from the roof” is about to start on Australian and North American rooftops as a technology Aquaponics teaching units in high schools – to significantly soundly based on hydroponics, aquaponics, aquaculture, improve the standard of science teaching, plus the number aeroponics, vermiculture and insect culture, with added of young people able to know and manage hobby hydropon- benefits from improved management of non-municipal wa- ics at home. This is expected to better equip homes for re- ter, and enhanced solar power. sponses to climate change – in which urban organic agricul- ture without waste, clean organic matter recycling, water These themes are considered to be important for the harvesting and recycling, and energy conservation, will be world’s wider development of green roofs and walls that key objectives. Many of the 2,500 high schools of the West- become major climate change responses for all nations. The ern Pacific are expected to develop an interest in aquaponics October 2012 “Cities Alive” congress in Queensland, Austra- for significant improvement in science teaching. lia by WGRIN and its Australian member, Green Roofs Aus- tralia Inc, is planned for around 2,500 attendees from Aus- Aquaponics equipment, feeding and management ad- tralia and overseas. vances suited to Australia and other hot-dry countries with temperate, sub-tropical or tropical climates. A special as- Contact : Geoff Wilson, Director, Aquaponics Network Aus- pect will be the various hobby systems of the world that can tralia , A networking, information and education division of produce less-expensive, high-protein fish and crustaceans, Qponics Pty Ltd (ACN 106 580 536) plus high-value fresh vegetables or fruits, for home tables at 32 David Road, Holland Park 4121, Queensland, Australia. modest cost. Phone +61 7 3411 4524 Mobile: 0412 622 779. Email: wilson.geoff@optusnet.com.au 12
  13. 13. Issue # 55 Aquaponics Journal www.aquaponicsjournal.com 4th qtr, 2009 13
  14. 14. Issue # 55 Aquaponics Journal www.aquaponicsjournal.com 4th qtr, 2009 Aquaponics . . . Rebecca Nelson and John Pade, aquaponics consultants and publishers of the Aquaponics Journal, get frequent inquires from people around the world who are interested in developing aquaponic and hydroponic projects of all sizes and for all kinds of applications. “Aquaponics...Around the World” is a part of every Aquaponics Journal so our readers can see what others are thinking and doing in aquaponics and controlled environment agriculture. Girdwood, AK, USA— The Girdwood Alaska Backpackers Inn, a newly renovated eco- friendly hostel that Buffalo, NY, USA—Jesse accommodates Meeder's project at the budget-minded travel- Massachusetts Avenue Pro- ers, offers guests ject's Urban Youth Farm spinach, herbs and promises to supply a vegetables grown in neighborhood that now has an aquaponic system. little access to fresh food www.hostelgirdwood. with locally raised tilapia com and fresh herbs and vege- tables. Jesse’s aquaponic system is housed in the garden’s adobe and straw bale greenhouse on Buf- falo’s West Side. Rain wa- ter is collected to replace what evaporates or is used by the plants. www.mass-ave.org San Rafael, CA, USA—The 2009 Bioneers Conference, with a focus on sustainable solutions to the world’s prob- lems, featured aquaponic sys- tems on display to emphasize the important role that aq- uaponics serves in providing Denver, CO, USA—A proposed project in a fresh food while carefully Denver neighborhood will use aquaponic managing resources. technology in an inner-city greenhouse to www.bioneers.org provide fresh food to the residents who, now, don’t have access to a grocery store. 14
  15. 15. Issue # 55 Aquaponics Journal www.aquaponicsjournal.com 4th qtr, 2009 . . . Around the World New Ideas, New projects and Happenings Cyprus—A group of 5 agriculture engineers are working to establish the first extension service in North Cyprus. With funding from USAID, they plan to implement an aquaponic system. Team Leader, Gerhard Zechner, plans to introduce aquaponics as a means of growing food and earning profit. Brisbane, Queensland, Australia— Aquaponics Net- work Australia is increasing its efforts and ex- panding its reach in the world of aq- uaponics. Direc- Viterbo, Italy - tor, Geoff Wil- Edoardo Pantanella son, is currently is in the PhD pro- planning the gram at the Univer- Urban Aquapon- sity deela Tuscia, ics Conference, focusing on crop which will take quality in aq- Nigeria, Africa—Engineering Ministries place in Brisbane uaponic systems. International (EMI) a non-profit Christian in Feb, 2010. Since July, 2009, he development organization made up of has been running architects, engineers and design profes- experiments on sionals who donate their skills, is devel- raft aquaponics oping a master plan for the develop- and pond aquapon- ment of a sustainable farm/school that ics using organic will educate Nigerian Farmers in sustain- substrates. able aquaculture and aquaponics. http://emiworld.org/ 15
  16. 16. Issue # 55 Aquaponics Journal www.aquaponicsjournal.com 4th qtr, 2009 Q and A By Dr. James Rakocy Dr. James Rakocy, who answers questions concerning aquaponics in this column, is the Director of the University of the Virgin Is- lands Agricultural Experiment Station and has been doing re- search in aquaponics for over 25 years. If you have a question for Dr. Rakocy, please e-mail us at info@aquaponics.com. Can you explain the difference between denitrifying bacteria and anaerobic ones. When talking about Q nitrates and bio-digesters, there are 2 paths we can take, anaerobic or aerobic; it is said that aerobic digestion will blow off a lot of your nitrogen and that anaerobic is better in that it will help conserve the nitrogen... well what is the difference then between denitrification and anaerobic bacte- ria...denitrification will turn your NO3 into NO2 and N2 gas and of course other things...as an end result, you lose nitrogen. How can anaerobic digestion prevent this from happening...or should I say, how can we prevent denitri- fication in our anaerobic digesters? A The correct comparisons are nitrifying bacteria vs. denitrifying bacteria and aerobic bacteria (requiring oxygen) vs. anaerobic bacteria (requiring the absence of oxygen). Nitrifying bacteria convert toxic am- monia to toxic nitrite followed by the conversion of nitrite to relatively non-toxic nitrate. Nitrifying bac- teria are aerobic bacteria. They require oxygen. Denitrifying bacteria convert nitrate to nitrogen gas when oxygen is absent. Denitrifying bacteria are anaerobic bacteria. The nitrogen gas gradually diffuses into the atmosphere. Therefore, when aquaculture effluent is digested anaerobically, all of the nitrogen in nitrate ions is eventually lost to the atmosphere. A small amount of ammonium and nitrite ions remain as the only source of inorganic nitrogen. Let me give you an example. Before we installed denitrification channels in our biofloc sys- tem, nitrate-nitrogen levels reached peak values of close to 700 mg/liter. These levels of nitrate can affect fish health and growth, and that is why we added a denitrification process. Prior to adding the channels, we tested the efficacy of denitrification. Sludge was placed in an un-aerated tank for 2 days. It quickly became anaerobic and nitrate-nitrogen levels decreased to 0 mg/liter. Aerobic digestion is the best method for preventing the loss of inorganic nitrogen. If the aquaculture effluent is aerated vigorously to maintain some dissolved oxygen in the sludge, the conversation of nitrate ions to nitrogen gas by denitrifying bacteria will be slowed but not stopped. Anaerobic conditions may occur within the center of the sludge particles, which will lead to some denitrification. 16
  17. 17. Issue # 55 Aquaponics Journal www.aquaponicsjournal.com 4th qtr, 2009 Dr. Rakocy, Q We have something growing in our raft tank that looks like insect larvae of some sort. I have attached a photo (top, right). There are tiny reddish worms that emerge from the casings shown in this photo. I don’t see them in the fish tanks, but maybe the fish eat them. Can you help me identify this? Is it harmful to my plants, fish or bacteria? Thanks, Sarah A Dear Sarah, What you see are the chironomid larvae, the larvae of midges (non-biting gnats). The picture shows silt- covered tubes that protect the larvae during the day. At night they come out of the tubes to eat organic matter. The larvae hide inside the tubes because they are bright red in color and a favorite food for fish. Chironomid larvae grow in waters that are rich in organic matter. Their life cycle is a month long, going from egg to larva to pupa to adult. They are sometimes mistaken for mosquitoes, but they do not feed as adults. After pupating, adult midges emerge at sundown, gathering in swarms at water’s edge or near lights and produce a humming sound that can be heard several feet away. The underside of aquaponic rafts is an ideal growing site for chi- ronomid larvae. Although they do eat nitrifying bacteria, I be- lieve their density is generally not high enough to significantly impact the biofiltration capacity of the raft or harm the system. They confer a benefit to aquaponic systems by consuming or- ganic matter, incorporating it into their bodies and then remov- ing it from the system by flying away. Chironomid larvae, also known as blood worms due to their bright red color, can attain high population densities in deep de- posits of organic matter as long as there is sufficient oxygen in the water. If the aeration is turned off and oxygen levels de- crease, the larvae leave their protective cases and can be cap- tured with a net and used as fish feed. Frozen blood worms can be purchased and fed to valuable aquarium fish or the larval stages of valuable food fish. The emphasis is on ‘valuable,’ be- cause blood worms are expensive, about $25 for a 1 kg (2.2 lb) frozen package. The pictures on the right show frozen blood worm cubes being thawed in preparation for feeding to fish. How much dissolved oxygen is required for plant growth? Do the bacteria need the same amount of Q dissolved oxygen, or more? What is the ideal DO level in the raft tank? Some raft systems that I read about do not aerate the raft tanks, only the fish tanks. Is this a bad idea? Thanks, Pete Hammond, The Big Island, Hawaii Dear Pete, A This is a good question. If aquaponic raft tanks are not aerated and dissolved oxygen levels decrease to levels less than 5 mg/liter, plant growth will be compromised. If the system is fed heavily and solids removal is inefficient, the biochemical oxygen demand (BOD) (the sum of all the oxygen consumed by 17
  18. 18. Issue # 55 Aquaponics Journal www.aquaponicsjournal.com 4th qtr, 2009 organisms within the hydroponic tank) Hello Dr. Rakocy, could be so high that the water will be- Please could you suggest how much calcium hydroxide to add to an come anaerobic, which will cause death aquaponics system to raise the pH from a level of around 6. The of the roots and plants. Even if solids re- system is comprised of a 2700 liter fish tank and 10 sq meters of moval is efficient, a considerable amount grow beds. I had been using calcium carbonate quite successfully of dissolved organic matter enters the but am currently really struggling to get the pH up. This could be hydroponic tanks and exerts a high BOD. due to the weather warming up here in Australia and an increased As for bacteria, dissolved oxygen levels rate of nitrification. should be at least 2 mg/liter. Thank you, Trish Cameron To use un-aerated hydroponic tanks suc- Dear Trish, cessfully, the system could be stocked Calcium carbonate dissolves very slowly and cannot be relied on to and fed at lower rates (which means less maintain pH of the 7.0, the recommended pH for aquaponic sys- production) or the water retention time tems. Calcium hydroxide dissolves much faster, but complete dis- in the hydroponics tank could be de- solution requires some time (days) and a system that ensures creased so there is less time for the oxy- maximum exposure of the culture water to the surface area of the gen to be consumed (which requires ei- compound. We use a base ther a higher water pumping rate or addition tank in the UVI aq- smaller hydroponic tanks) or the water uaponic system to gradually temperature could be lowered (colder add high pH water to the sys- water holds more dissolved oxygen). tem. If the calcium hydroxide was added directly to the fish High oxygen levels in the hydroponic tanks, there would momentar- tanks promote maximum plant growth ily be ‘hot zones’ of very high and water treatment (purification). I have pH water that could burn the seen raft hydroponic operations (no fish, gills of fish if they swam just plants) inject liquid oxygen into a wa- through them. When calcium Base Addition Tank ter distribution system under the rafts to hydroxide is added to the base create oxygen levels slightly above satu- addition tank, some of it dissolves immediately, but most of the ration (levels that are higher than that compound settles to the bottom of the tank. A small side stream which occurs naturally). The saturation flow from the water pump outlet delivers culture water to the level of dissolved oxygen at 75ºF is 8.2 base addition tank, which is thoroughly mixed by continuous aera- mg/liter. tion. The calcium hydroxide gradually dissolves. Occasionally we stir up the calcium hydroxide at the bottom of the tank with a The UVI system has a small air stone (3 short section of PVC pipe to create more contact with the water. inches by 1 inch by 1 inch) every 4 ft in The base addition tank effluent enters the sump, where it is the hydroponic tanks. As water flows greatly diluted (no pH spikes) and immediately pumped to the fish through a set of two 100-ft hydroponic rearing tanks. tanks in 3 hours, a total of 48 air stones increases dissolved oxygen from 4 mg/ The practical way to determine how much calcium hydroxide to liter (influent value) to 7 mg/liter add is through trial and error. If the pH goes down rapidly, add (effluent value). Furthermore, the current more base until you can maintain pH 7.0. Try not to exceed pH 7.0 created by these air stones ensures good because some essential nutrients precipitate out of solution at mixing of the nutrient solution among the higher pH levels. There will be some variation in the rate of pH de- thick tangles of plant roots and produces cline, and you are right that at higher temperatures in the summer a pronounced film of nitrifying bacteria biological activity speeds up (including nitrification). You may need on the underside of the rafts above the to add base every day. And remember that we alternate the addi- upwelling currents caused by the air tion of calcium hydroxide with potassium hydroxide to supplement stones. I strongly recommend that deep the system with both calcium and potassium ions. channel hydroponic tanks be aerated. Let me give you an example of an extreme case we once experi- 18
  19. 19. Issue # 55 Aquaponics Journal www.aquaponicsjournal.com 4th qtr, 2009 enced. We were raising tilapia fingerlings in small (10 ft in diameter) tanks using biofloc technology. We Rakocy fed four times daily, aerated heavily and removed excess solids twice daily. The feeding rate and nitrifi- cation rate were so high in this tank that we had to add base after every feeding. A measurable decrease in pH occurred hourly. Aquaponic systems require base less often, never more than once a day. & Associates Another situation we sometimes experience is that pH remains stable for weeks at a time and no base is required, which indicates that excessive denitrifica- A network of tion is occurring in anaerobic zones somewhere in consultants for: the system. The process of denitrification produces alkalinity and negates the need for base addition. Aquaponics When fruiting crops are raised, we increase denitrifi- cation in the filter tanks by cleaning them less often. Aquaculture Denitrification reduces nitrate levels and promotes Hydroponics fruiting. However, if denitrification is excessive, no base addition is required, which could lead to cal- cium and potassium deficiencies. In this case, clean the filter tanks more often and check for and remove any anaerobic sludge deposits in the hydroponic component. Your nose will guide you because anaerobic zones give off foul smelling gases. AJ Aquaponics & Aquaculture Grade PVC Liners & Covers • Custom Designed & Manufac- tured for all shapes of Tanks, Raceways & Ponds • Tank & Building Covers, Flexible Tubes, Transport Bladders & Flexible Isola- tors • Edge Attachments, Pump Fittings, Sumps, Data Pockets for Records • RF Welded Seams & Fittings for Superior Connections For information on and the Best Quality our range of services, Contact us for a free estimate contact Dr. James Rakocy DLM Plastics at 727-470-3741 email: inquiry@dlmplastics.com jrakocy@uvi.edu phone 419-424-5250 ext.5269 fax 419-423-0849 www.dlmplastics.com 19
  20. 20. Issue # 55 Aquaponics Journal www.aquaponicsjournal.com 4th qtr, 2009 Wisconsin Home to Two New Aquaponic Greenhouses By Rebecca L. Nelson Two new aquaponic greenhouse Dairy (owned by Vrieze). This projects, A Future Farm in Northern dairy is home to 1200 cows and Wisconsin and KP Simply Fresh in uses the latest technology to the Southern part of the state, dem- keep the cows healthy and onstrate that aquaponics is a devel- happy. At Baldwin Dairy an oping industry in the dairy state. anaerobic digester converts the Known for rolling green hillsides cow manure into methane gas. dotted with Holstein cows, Wiscon- Previously the methane was sin has a rich agricultural history burned off but now it will be and an innovative and bright agri- used to heat the 1/2 acre green- cultural future. house. It was initially calcu- lated that the number of BTUs available from the Although started at different times, both projects manure from 1200 cows has the capacity to heat will be coming into production at nearly the same just over 24,000 square feet of greenhouse space. time, in early 2010. A Future Farm, in Baldwin, The design of the aquaponic greenhouse takes Wisconsin began planning the project in May of advantage of the available methane and other re- 2008. The downturn in the economy slowed the sources the dairy provides. project’s progress but, now, it is full speed ahead. With the greenhouse nearing completion and the Vrieze and Meyer, have spent a great deal of installation of the aquaponic systems started, this time and effort refining the energy system that aquaponic greenhouse will soon be fully opera- utilizes methane gas as the primary energy input tional. for heating the air and water in the greenhouse. This energy system will make aquaponic food KP Simply Fresh, in North Freedom, has made production in a controlled environment green- steady progress since spring of 2009, moving house a highly sought after add-on to existing from planning to construction mid summer and dairies. now they are ready to stock the fish tanks in their newly built greenhouse. Nelson and Pade, Inc is collaborating with A Fu- ture Farm on using the energy system design they Both projects are being guided by Nelson and have developed to fuel aquaponic projects on Pade, Inc. and are using Nelson and Pade’s Clear other dairies in Wisconsin and throughout the Flow Aquaponic SystemsTM United States. A Future Farm is owned by John Vrieze and In addition to aquaponics, A Future Farm is also Steve Meyer. Their new greenhouse is just over exploring other ways of utilizing the methane gas 20 1/2 acre and it is located adjacent the Baldwin
  21. 21. Issue # 55 Aquaponics Journal www.aquaponicsjournal.com 4th qtr, 2009 and diary “waste” resources. Coffee roast- ing, creating bio-fuels and growing algae may all be incorporated into the operation. A Future Farm is 30 miles east of Minnea- polis, Minnesota, a large metropolitan base of customers seeking out locally grown produce and fish. Steve Meyer has already gotten confirmation from buyers who will take everything they are growing in the greenhouse, which will include nearly 400,000 heads of lettuce and 40,000 lbs of fish per year. KP Simply Fresh is owned and operated by Norbert and Donna Meunier and their son, Christopher. The Meunier’s are true entrepreneurs and have owned a variety of businesses. Their new 5,000 square foot aquaponic greenhouse takes advantage of much infrastructure they already have. The concrete pad, extra buildings for the fish nursery, packing and storage, a well and electrical service were all on site. The Meunier’s will sell their fish and pro- duce in the nearby communities of Bara- boo, Madison and the Wisconsin Dells. Plans for an active agri-tourism program and room for expansion indicate that this greenhouse is just the beginning for KP Simply Fresh. From the nursery room to the greenhouse, everything is top notch at KP Simply Fresh. The nursery was stocked with 1/2 gram fingerlings a couple of months ago and another batch of fish was delivered more recently. These fish are now ready to move into the main grow out system in the Top: John Vrieze, John Pade and Steve Meyer during the early planning of the 1/2 acre greenhouse. Middle: A few of the 1200 cows at the Baldwin Dairy. Manure from the cows is converted to methane gas in an anerobic diget- ster. The methane will be used to heat and provide energy for the aquaponic greenhouse. Bottom: The greenhouse, nearing completion. 21
  22. 22. Issue # 55 Aquaponics Journal www.aquaponicsjournal.com 4th qtr, 2009 greenhouse, the beginning step in establishing a commercial aq- uaponic system. There is also interest in aquaponics in Wisconsin at the state and county levels. State representatives and county officials have expressed in- terest in aquaponic food production to help revive agricultural enter- prises by incorporating aquaponic greenhouses which can grow fresh fish and vegetables and deliver to local markets. The Wisconsin Extension program has 3 aquaculture extension agents who are very supportive of Nelson and Pade, Inc.’s methods, systems and workshops. Wisconsinites are very loyal to lo- cal farmers and support the “Buy Local” programs. Some grocery stores go so far as to list the number of miles fresh vegetables travel. The local growers get recognition from the store owners and the customers who are looking for food that has a low environmental impact and high level of freshness due to being grown close to the marketplace. Since an aquaponic greenhouse can be built close to or within urban areas, it is an excellent method of growing and supplying fresh food. Many people in Wisconsin are already recognizing this. I will continue to write about these projects as well as others Top: The KP Simply Fresh aquaponic just beginning in Wisconsin. I think the future for aquapon- greenhouse. Middle: The interior of the ics is very encouraging and Wisconsin is poised to become KP Simply Fresh greenhouse during the installation of the aquaponic systems. a leader in aquaponic food production. Bottom: Christopher Meunier showing the access to the valves below the decking sur- Information: Nelson and Pade, Inc: www.aquaponics.com rounding the fish tanks in the KP Simply A Future Farm: www.afuturefarm.com Fresh greenhouse.. KP Simply Fresh: www.kpsimplyfresh.com AJ 22
  23. 23. Issue # 55 Aquaponics Journal www.aquaponicsjournal.com 4th qtr, 2009 Restaurant Home growers can have this Serves Fish same experi- ence if Fresh! they choose their best local fin fish, crusta- ceans By Geoff Wilson. and mollusks. And they can do it as (a) a learning experi- ence for commercial production later and (b) as one of the I believe that future aquaponics will be based on fin best ways to dine at home -- on fresh, high-protein, tasty fish, crustaceans and mol- food that provides lusks – perhaps even in much better health if same-tank systems. This is the chosen species are my personal view of the conveyors of the right opportunities now strongly Omega-3 oils. under way in certain parts of the world – especially in But I have resolved to Asia and in Asian restau- try to return to the Tan- rants in non-Asian coun- jung Aru Seafood res- tries. taurant in Kota Kina- balu. It was eating The accompanying pictures pleasure. were taken in the Tanjung Aru Seafood Restaurant in That is exactly why fast-developing Kota Kina- emulation of this busi- balu in Sabah, Malaysia, ness idea is in the best which I visited in August as interests of commercial part of a tourist group. aquaponic growers around the world. See The restaurant served su- if you can get a local perb seafood. It was fresh- restaurant to do the cooked from about a dozen same. Show the restau- of so half-cubic meter, glass rant owner this article tanks holding three kinds of and these pictures – or fin fish, several species of send them a copy. crustaceans and several spe- cies of mollusks. All were Such a moment could raised or caught locally. deliver a sound finan- All were deliciously fresh. cial prospect for all aquaponics produce, And all that I could think of especially if the restau- was that this experience rant owner can promote was deep proof that the them as “organic” (if soundest market for com- the fish and crustaceans mercial aquaponic growers are fed only accepted is going to be similar res- Top: Tilapia are most popular at 38 ringitt (about US$10) organic feeds). I’m taurants which take great per kilogram. Bottom: A customer choosing a live fish to be starting to travel down care to serve the best – and cleaned and cooked at the Tanjung Aru Seafood Restaurant in that important take care to pay for its regu- Kota Kinabalu in Sabah, Malaysia, road. AJ 23 lar supply.
  24. 24. Issue # 55 Aquaponics Journal www.aquaponicsjournal.com 4th qtr, 2009 Experiencing Aquaponics at UVI By Lisa Forsthovel My name is Lisa and I live in Victoria, British Co- lumbia, Canada. I have been a working as a Regis- dents there had started a project in aquaponics, tered Nurse since 1996. I am certified in Pediatric called barrelponics. As a project, I made a desk- and Geriatric nursing specialties. My mother is top aquaponics unit using Nelson and Pade Inc’s originally from the Philippines and our family has book Aquaponic Food Production. I was suc- been raising tilapia previously in pond systems and cessful in growing purple basil under artificial now in net pens in a lake. lighting in hydroton (clay beads) sitting above a thirty gallon aquarium stocked with six goldfish. Although I am a nurse I have interests in both aqua- culture and horticulture. As hobbies I have bred Later that fall I attended the first annual Aq- bettas and cultivated orchids. My interests brought uaponics Conference in Guadalajara, Mexico me to Malaysia and Thailand where I learned more where I met Rebecca Nelson and John Pade. I about different aspects of aquaculture and horticul- visited my first aquaponics facility, Aquaponia, ture. I visited the Kuala Lumpur Orchid Garden in on a tour during the conference. My interest in KL, Malaysia and stayed at Rajamangala University aquaponics was growing (no pun intended) and I of Technology in Trang,Thailand where they culture was eager to learn more. warm water finfish. This summer I took the Tilapia and Aquaponics I wanted to learn more about rearing tilapia and Short Course taught at the University of the Vir- bring this knowledge back to the Philippines to im- gin Islands in St. Croix. The comprehensive prove fish husbandry practices in our family busi- course teaches the principles of commercial aq- ness. This past year I took courses in fisheries and uaponics and biofloc tank culture systems. Dr. aquaculture at Vancouver Island University in Jim Rakocy suggested that I could gain hands on Nanaimo, British Columbia, Canada. This was the experience by returning to the University of the first time I heard about aquaponics. One of the stu- 24
  25. 25. Issue # 55 Aquaponics Journal www.aquaponicsjournal.com 4th qtr, 2009 Virgin Islands as an intern for three months and run their Commercial Aq- uaponics System (CAS). This idea was very appealing and I arranged to come back in mid-August. Prior to returning to St. Croix I made a trip to visit Morning- star Fisherman’s facility in Dade City, Florida and a separate trip to visit Dr. Nick Savidov’s aquaponic system at the Crop Diversification Center in Brooks, Alberta and MDM Farms in Rumsey, Al- berta where Mark and his family rear tila- pia and have an aquaponics system. In mid-August I started my internship at UVI with help from the aquaculture team. My first week included planting over 32 varieties of seeds to transplant into the CAS. Some of these plants have been grown before, some have not. My duties include feeding the tilapia three times a day and checking water quality. I maintain the system by cleaning the or- chard nets twice a week. I transplant seedlings into the system and monitor the plants while recording information like growth and pest pressures. I have learned that the fish and plants are at the mercy of the elements. There was a tropical storm the first week of Septem- ber and then there are the daily occur- rences such as intense mid-day heat, wind and rain. Top: Week One - Seedlings in trays in the greenhouse to be I harvested my first crop from the CAS, later transplanted into the CAS. Bottom: Week Six - Fruits and which was tarragon sprouted from cut- vegetables growing in the CAS. tings grown in the greenhouse. Fish, fruit and vegetables grown in the aquaponic system are sold on campus at the University Farm Store along with other crops grown by the Agricultural Experiment Station (AES). On October 18, World Food Day, I look forward to having visitors see the different varieties of fruits and vegetables currently growing in the CAS. It is very satisfying to watch the fish and plants grow over time. I am grateful for the opportu- nity to be here and am finding this experience most valuable. I hope to take the knowledge learned from running the CAS back to Canada. The climate is cooler in western Canada compared to St. Croix, so I will have to modify growing in a greenhouse system. I could not have achieved the results with the CAS without the guidance and knowledge of the UVI Aquaculture team, Dr. Jim Rakocy, Charlie Shultz, Jason Danaher, Don Bailey and Frankie Carino. Thank-you guys! I would like to keep you all updated at the end of my 13 weeks experience here AJ at the University of the Virgin Islands. Stay tuned. 25
  26. 26. Issue # 55 Aquaponics Journal www.aquaponicsjournal.com 4th qtr, 2009 Developments in Plant Lighting By Ron Mitchell Over the last 10 years I have seen much advancement in lighting technologies; more efficient ballasts, reflectors and color corrected lamps. Until recently the most economical and effective agricultural lighting has come from HID (High- intensity discharge) lights. The two most widely used HID light sys- tems are High Pressure Sodium (HPS) and Halide lamp systems powered by mag- netic ballasts. Basically, HPS lamps give off more red light and are more suited to light flowering crops. Halides produce more blue light and are the best light to use for foliar growth. Advancements in lamp design and materials have produced HPS lamps that give off more blue light and Halides that give more red light. The lighting industry calls these “full spec- trum” lamps. The biggest downside of using an HID system is the high energy consumption. With energy rates rising and the need to cut fossil fuel use, con- sumers are looking for a more efficient Top: Metal Halde Plant light with digital electronic ballast and green alternative. and digital bulb. Bottom: LED (Light Emitting Diode) Plant Light 26
  27. 27. Issue # 55 Aquaponics Journal www.aquaponicsjournal.com 4th qtr, 2009 The State of the Art in HID lighting is now a sys- a constant range between 73º to and 76º and hu- tem that has a digital (electronic) ballast and digi- midity from 40% to 60%. I had the controls set to tal lamp. A high quality certified digital ballast exchange the air in the room every 15 minutes. matched with a digital lamp can produce 50% Keeping the environment controlled in a room like more usable light to your plants while using 8% this turned out to be much easier when using a light less energy. source that didn’t add so much heat to the room. While I have been watching all this HID technol- I planted 8 lettuce varieties in 1.5 inch rockwool ogy unfold over the years, I have been following cubes. Varieties planted include: Little Gem, Win- the development of a far better lighting technol- ter Density, Red Romaine, Lollo Rossa, Dark Red ogy; LED (Light Emitting Diodes) lights. LED Lollo Rosa, Green Grand Rapids, Lollo Bionda and lights have been around for many years but only Red Salad Bowl. recently have they been available in a On day 2, I lit the rock- powerful grow wool cubes with 1 – light at a reason- 300w LED grow light able price. The and let them grow for 300 watt LED 15 days in my hydro- grow light that I ponic nursery. On day recently tested 15, I separated the used 2.4 amps of blocks and planted 196 energy compared lettuce plants into NFT to a 1000 watt HID channels that measured system using 9.6 10 ft. x 10 ft. Over the amps. This LED lettuce I hung the 4 – light uses 75% less 300w LED lights and energy than the ran them 18 hours a day HID. A typical for 15 more days. 1000 watt HID produces 3,750 The results were amaz- BTUs of heat (very ing. All the varieties hot!) yet the low grew vigorously, form- temperature emitted from the 300 watt LED is ing bright colored full grown heads. All 198 heads hardly detectable when holding your hand under- were ready to harvest in 15 days after transplanting neath the light touching the glass lens. You can’t into the NFT system. The texture and taste of the do that with an HID. lettuce was crisp, juicy and full of flavor. Hon- estly this was some of the best lettuce I’ve ever I recently obtained 4 – 300w LED grow lights grown. As for the shelf life, I picked them three and I ran a simple test to see if these lights could weeks ago and we are still enjoying their fresh grow quality produce. The manufacturer of these taste and quality. lights claim “they produce the perfect blend of light suitable for all stages of growth.” When Ron Mitchell has been lighting greenhouses for they are lit they give off a bright magenta glow. over 30 years and designs lighting layouts for com- NASA has been using them for many years to mercial and academic growers in greenhouses and grow plants in laboratories and in space yet I was growth chambers all over the country. His practi- still skeptical that I could grow plants as well un- cal knowledge in this field has come from years of der these LED’s as I had with the same amount growing specialty vegetables and developing sys- of 1000w Halide lights. tems for controlled environment agriculture (CEA). Ron can be reached by email at: For my test I used an insulated growth chamber ronloan@pacbell.net www.mitchellcea.com with no external light and kept the temperature at 27