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Commercial Aquaponics

Ken Semmens Matthew Ferrell



Examples Business Model

Production System
University of the Virgin Islands Recirculating
Aquaculture System
Flowing Water System at Reymann Memorial Farm
This presentation
is intended to help you understand
more about aquaponics on a
commercial scale.
Rob Nash
Commercial system
Started as tilapia, but it was found to energy intensive in the
winter
Sells at local farmers market, contracts with restaurants
2-3 dollars a head lettuce, sells kale, peppers, and tomato's as
well
Brings lettuce still attached to net pots and roots
His farmers market activities drive system sales


Business Model
Restaurant, Farm Market, System Sales

Nate Story- Zip Grow Towers
Commercial Vertical system
Aim is to locate very close to city
markets
Sell live products in store
Use as much space as possible within
grow house
At one point used tilapia, but has
moved on to non food fish

Business Model
Retail and System Sales


Marc Laberge from Quebec (http://www.cultures-
aquaponiques.com/team.htm).

He raises rainbow trout and lettuce. He sells about
$1000 worth of smoked trout a week and 6,800
heads of lettuce. He has survived for 8 years just
doing production. Now he sells franchises.
Business Model
Off the farm, grocery, and franchises
Green Acre Aquaponics
Based on modified UVI system
Been in operation 3 years
Supplement their organic wholesale food and CSA
products
Large percent of income directly related to their teaching.
Commercial guide cost $995
Classes are $1295 per person


Business Model
Wholesale , CSA , tours and education

Growhaus - Variation on the UVI Design
Hybrid System
25% Beds with substrate
75% Rafts
Plants primary
Fish secondary

Tilapia
Fingerlings
Tilapia
grow out
Settle solid
waste
Substrate
Reservoir
1st raft
channel
2
nd
raft
channel
3
rd
raft
channel
Pump
Growhaus - Denver
Tilapia
Fingerlings
Tilapia
grow out
Settle solid
waste
Substrate
Reservoir
1st raft
channel
2
nd
raft
channel
3
rd
raft
channel
Pump
Growhaus - Denver

Will Allens Growing Power
Is a multi disciple agriculture
learning center
Aquaponics is a small part of the
system
Charge for tours and sell produce
Use mostly volunteer labor and
internships
Many paid positions are grant
funded or through Americorps.


Business Models
Nonprofit, Educational and Agri-tourism
After School Matters
Allen Foundation
Andrah Foundation, Ruth Knoll
Anonymous Family Foundation
Bayshore Community
Foundation Fund
Bradshaw Knight Foundation
Brewers Community
Foundation, Inc.
Brico Fund
Bruce and Muriel Hach
Scientific Foundation
C.G. Schmidt Construction
Company
Ceres Foundation
Chicago Community Trust,
Searle Family Fund
Chicago Department of Family
and Support Services
Chicago Police Department
Force for Good
Chicago State University
Foundation
City of Chicago Community
Development Grants
Administration
City of Milwaukee, Community
Development Grants
Administration
Clif Bar Family Foundation
Community Benefit Trust Fund
Cream City Foundation -
Joseph R. Pabst LGBT
Infrastructure Fund
Critical Mass Leadership
Education
Dagoba Organic Chocolate
David & Julia Uihlein
Charitable Foundation
Farm Aid
First Unitarian Society of
Milwaukee
GE Foundation Matching Gifts
The Goggio Family Foundation
Greater Milwaukee
Foundation
Greater Milwaukee
Foundation, Henry & Mary
Franke Idea Fund
Greater Milwaukee
Foundation, Frank Kirkpatrick
Fund
Greater Milwaukee
Foundation, Kopmeier Family
Fund
Greater Milwaukee
Foundation, Walter and Olive
Stiemke Fund
Green Bay Packers Foundation
H.H. Camp Foundation
Headwaters Foundation for
Justice Young Donors Circle
Fund
Business Model
Nonprofit - contributors
Helen Bader Foundation
Jane Bradley Pettit Foundation
Jessie Smith Noyes Foundation
JPMorgan Chase Foundation
J.R. Albert Foundation
Kohls Stores A-Team
LaSalle Bank
Lawson Valentine Foundation
L.E. Phillips Family Foundation, Inc.
Liberty Property Trust
Linda and Jock Mutschler
Foundation
Lubar Family Foundation - Sheldon
& Marianne Lubar Charitable Fund
Manaaki Foundation
Medical College of Wisconsin,
Healthier Wisconsin Partnership
Program
Meshewa Farm Foundation
Miller Brewing Company
Milwaukee Area Workforce
Investment Board
Milwaukee County Community
Development Block Grant
National Education Association
Foundation
Northwestern Mutual Foundation
Patrick and Anna Cudahy Fund
Parkways Foundation
Richard and Ethel Herzfeld
Foundation
Rotary Club of Mitchell Field
Charitable Foundation
Scotts Miracle Grow
Service Club of Milwaukee
Silver Spring Neighborhood Center
St. Pius Congregation
State of Wisconsin Office of Energy
Independence
The 11-10-02 Foundation
The Barnwood Foundation
The Cleveland Foundation
The Community Foundation
Serving Boulder County
The E-Z Coffee Stand
The Gardner Foundation
The J.M. Kaplan Fund
The John D. and Catherine T.
MacArthur Foundation
The McCormick Foundation
The Monches Foundation
The Robert R. McCormick
Foundation
The Seed Fund
University of Wisconsin Extension
USA for Africa
US Environmental Protection
Agency Environmental Justice
Grants Program
USDA Community Food Projects
USDA Farmers Market Promotion
Program
The following businesses and
individuals have contributed their
time, money, and materials:
Growing Power's Board of
Director's and the Chicago Advisory
Board for their guidance and
generosity with their time
Will Allen, Milwaukee
Business Model
Nonprofit - contributors

Alterra Coffee
Avec, Chicago
Blackbird, Chicago
Bleeding Heart Bakery,
Chicago
Breadsmith Bakery,
Milwaukee
Columbia College, Chicago
Dagoba Organic Chocolate
Dave Ditscheit, Milwaukee
First Slice Cafe, Chicago
Floriole Bakery, Chicago
Fraiche Kitchen, Chicago
Get Me Greg's, Chicago
Gino's Deli & Catering,
Milwaukee
Goodness Greeness,
Chicago
Joan Jacobs, Milwaukee
Jonathans Bagel,
Milwaukee
Lakefront Brewery,
Milwaukee
Kitchen Chicago, Chicago
Magilo's Produce,
Milwaukee
Elizabeth Malone,
Milwaukee
Arthur Marburg,
Milwaukee
Marcus Corporation,
Milwaukee
Outpost Cooperative,
Milwaukee
The Publican, Chicago
Red Hen Bread, Chicago
Seedling Fruit, Michigan
Sendik's Grocery,
Milwaukee
The Signature Room,
Chicago
The Simple Soyman,
Milwaukee
Sprecher Brewery,
Milwaukee
Sunday Dinner, Chicago
Dave Swanson, Milwaukee
Vella Cafe, Chicago
Whole Foods, Chicago
Wild Flour Bakery,
Milwaukee
Business Model
Nonprofit - contributors
Currently aquaponics is a viable business that seems
to require diversification of products and services.

It is difficult, though possible, to run a farm with
revenue from the produce alone.
Take home message:
Reymann Memorial Farm (WVU)
Cold Flowing Water System
Wardensville, WV
Spring
Trout
Raceway
Aquaponic
Channel
with rafts
Polishing
Pond
Discharge
to Stream
Cold Flowing Water System
Facility Components at Reymann Memorial Farm
Plants adapted to cool root zone:
Watercress
Lettuce
Swiss Chard
Kale
Kohlrabi
Broccoli
Cabbage
Nasturtium
Calendula
Dianthus
Mums


Greenhouse
High Tunnel
Nutrient levels low, do not accumulate
Seeking to determine what grows well and rates of
production
First goal - product value, second goal - improve
water quality.
More information on this work covered in Research
Update part of todays program.
Reymann Memorial Farm (WVU)
UVI -best known, most well researched
aquaponic production system
Diagram from Recirculating Aquaculture Systems by Timmons et al 2002, pg 637. NRAC pub 01-002
Slides from Plant Production Presentation at the 2012
Aquaponics Association Meeting
James Rakocy,
PhD
Director/Consultant of The Aquaponics Doctors
http://theaquaponicsdoctors.com/

Formerly:

AES Director, Professor of Aquaculture at University of the Virgin Islands

Pioneered Aquaponics research and development.

Nutrients Required for Plant Growth
Macronutrients
C Carbon*
O Oxygen*
H Hydrogen*
N Nitrogen
K Potassium**
Ca Calcium**
Mg Magnesium
P Phosphorus
S Sulfur


Micronutrients
Cl Chlorine
Fe Iron**
Mn Manganese
B Boron
Zn Zinc
Cu Copper
Mo Molybdenum
* Supplied by CO
2
and H
2
O ** Must be supplemented
Rakocy 2012
Production Methods
Staggered
Allows weekly harvests
Facilitates market development
Maintains uniform nutrient uptake
Batch
Easier management
Can deplete nutrients


Rakocy 2012
Seedling Production
Greenhouse or shade house
Protected area
Keep it clean
Metal tables
Install drain if concrete floor
Weed barrier if gravel floor
Planting media and dead plant material can
harbor
insects and disease

Rakocy 2012
Planting Media
Soilless potting mix
Coir (coconut fibers) + Vermiculite
60% + 40% mix
Free from pythium
Requires fertilizer supplementation
Labor required to prepare mix
Rakocy 2012
Planting Media
Peat potting mix (i.e.
Promix BX)
Inexpensive
Readably available
Contains micronutrients
for seedling growth
Can have pythium
spores
Jiffy peat pellets
Expensive
Easy to use
Can have pythium
spores
Oasis root cubes
Expensive
Requires additional
nutrients
Dries out quickly in
greenhouse
Rockwool
Expensive
Non-biodegradable
Rakocy 2012
Seedling Production
Fill flat with mix
Seed at required depth for plant variety
Automatic seeder for small and surface planted seeds
Cover flat until seeds germinate
Many seeds germinate better in the dark
Keeps mice from stealing seeds
Keeping covered too long causes seedlings to elongate
and have weak stems
Water as needed
Some seeds prefer dryer conditions than others
Use mist nozzle for first week
Fertilize 2-3 times weekly
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Watering Equipment
Hozon Siphon Mixer
1:16 proportioning device
Rakocy 2012
NPK Nitrogen, Potassium,
Phosphorous
N - Nitrogen - shoots
P - Phosphorous - roots
K - Potassium - flowers and fruit

Use 9-45-15 for seedling production
Promotes strong root formation
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Deep Flowing Channels

Six channels
100 ft x 4 ft x 16 in
Total water volume
18,000 gallons
3 hr retention time
72 rafts
8 ft x 4 ft
Growing area
2304 ft
2




100 ft x 4 ft x 16 in


72 Rafts
2.4 m x 1.2 m x 3.8 cm
(8 ft x 4 ft x 1.5 in)
214 m
2
surface area
(2,304 ft
2
)
Rakocy 2012
Raft Preparation
Closed-cell polystyrene (Dow blue board, not
scored)

Dow Styrofoam

Square Edge Extruded


4 ft x 8 ft x 1.5 in
Paint
White, latex, non-toxic, roof paint
Plant holes 1.87 in
Use template for spacing
Spacing varies for vegetable variety
Net pots: 2 in x 2 in
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Production Management
pH maintained at 7.0
KOH
Ca(OH)
2

Chelated iron
2 ppm (mg/liter)
Chelated iron is 13% pure so multiply by 7.7
(i.e., 15.4 mg of product gives 2 mg of iron)
Manage net tanks with cleaning schedule to
control nitrate levels
Biological pest control
Integrated pest management Rakocy 2012
Rakocy 2012

Rakocy 2012
Lettuce
High nitrogen levels promotes leafy growth
Short production cycle generates steady
cash flow
Strong demand
Rakocy 2012
Lettuce Production Cycle
Greenhouse Phase
Week 1
Day 0: seed
Week 2
Day 7: thin flat
Day 7, 10, 13: fertilize
Week 3
Day 14, 16, 19:
fertilize
Aquaponic System Phase
Week 4
Day 21: transplant to
aquaponic system
Day 23, 26: spray with BT
Week 5
Day 30, 33: Spray with BT
Week 6
Day 37, 40: Spray with BT
Week 7
Day 42, 45: Spray with BT
Day 49: Harvest
Rakocy 2012
Rakocy 2012
Lettuce Harvest Procedures
Move sheets with mature plants to one end of the raft
Lift sheets to harvesting stand or harvest in place
Cut off lettuce stalk with a sharp knife and remove
lower poor quality leaves
Discard any poor quality lettuce
Pack 24 lettuce heads to a box
Weigh several randomly selected boxes minus the
empty box weight to calculate total harvest weight and
average weight per head of lettuce.
Count box to determine total lettuce number and
percentage of marketable yield

Rakocy 2012
Lettuce Harvest Procedures
Lettuce that is not distributed immediately should
be stored in a moist refrigerated room
Surface of the sheets should be washed with
dechlorinated water to remove any dead leaves
and quickly returned to hydroponic tanks
Plants roots and growing media should be
removed from net pots and discarded
Cleaned net pots should be disinfected by soaking
them in water containing bleach, rinsed and then
dried before they are used again.
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Lettuce Production Values
Type Romaine Crisphead Leaf Bibb
Variety Parris
Island
Montello Sierra Boston
Bibb
Density
(plants/raft)
48 60 60 88
Harvest
(cs/sheet)
2 2.5 2.5 3.67
Value
($/case)
30 25 25 20
Total 60 62.5 62.50 73.4
Rakocy 2012
Leaf Lettuce
Sierra
20/m
2
, 60 per raft
Staggered production
18 rafts harvested/week
Market value
$1.00/head
Value
$196/m
2
/year
~$41,900/system/year

Rakocy 2012

Rakocy 2012
Romaine Lettuce
Parris Island
16/m
2
, 48 per raft
Staggered production
18 rafts harvested/week
Market value
$1.25/head
Value
$157/m
2
/yearr
~$33,600/system/yearr
Rakocy 2012
Pythium spp.
Root fungus
No IPM control
Low temperature
reduces growth and
impact of some
Pythium species
Select resistant
varieties

Rakocy 2012
Basil Production
48 plants/sheet
Staggered production
Complete harvest recommended
Cut and come again at 4 week intervals is
alternative
Grow for 3 months
Harvest (cut) three times then remove
Reduces survival and increases pythium
Seedlings
3 weeks in greenhouse

Rakocy 2012
Basil
Genovese
16/m
2
, 48 per
raft
Market value
$10.00/lb
Value
$515/m
2
/yr

$110,210/system/yr


Rakocy 2012
Melon Production
2 plants/sheet
Use one side only and allow plants to run on
ground
Plant other side with companion crop
Or construct narrow hydroponic tanks
< 3 month crop
Plants die as melons ripen on the vine
Seedlings
1-2 weeks in greenhouse
Rakocy 2012
Cantaloupe
Jaipur
0.67/m
2
, 2 per raft
Market value
$3.99 each
Value
Each: $46.28/m
2
/yr
$9,900/system/yr



Rakocy 2012
Revenue for Various Crops
Crop $/m
2
/yr $/ft
2
/yr
Leaf lettuce (20/m
2
) 196 18.22
Romaine lettuce
(16/m
2
)
157 14.59
Basil (16/m
2
) 515 47.86
Okra (3.7/m
2
) 15 1.39
Cantaloupe (0.67/m
2
) 46 4.28
Rakocy 2012
Plant Pest and Disease Control
No synthetic chemical pesticides

Biological controls used to control insects

IPM to reduce pest pressure


Rakocy 2012
Biological Controls
Dipel
Bacteria
Controls
caterpillars

Armicarb
Potassium
bicarbonate
Controls fungus,
powdery mildew.
Changes pH of leaf
surface making it
unsuitable for
fungus growth
BotaniGard
Fungus
Controls soft bodied
insects (white flies,
aphids)

Rakocy 2012

Application
of Dipel with
gas powered
backpack
sprayer
Rakocy 2012
Soaps and Oils
Coats insect causing
death.
Kills all insects
Including beneficial
Ladybugs, wasps, bees
Rakocy 2012
Barriers
Shade cloth
Tangle foot
Rakocy 2012
Thank you, Jim, for sharing these
slides.

Questions?