Farbulous

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About Farbulous

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  • Birthday 12/19/79

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    Toronto, ON, Canada

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    Learning, Thinking, Being Alive
  1. All responses are much appreciated! Thanks everyone.
  2. Hello fellows. It's been a few years since I've posted on this site, but I am now possibly in a position to build and install an AP system at my current workplace. We operate a moderately sized indoor greenhouse (concrete slab floor). There are so many options out there in terms of systems and components, but I've been looking into AP for many years, and have read these forums many times. The consensus these days seems to be iAVS as the go-to system for ease of design and operation. I can totally get down with that. We want something that is not too large, but can be potentially expanded upon in the future. At first, we will probably be using non-food fish such as goldfish just to test it out and get a feel for regular maintenance and operation. I'm sure I will have more questions over time, but for the moment, here are the two that have been top of mind: 1. Since iAVS uses a sand bed as a biofilter, do folks using this type of system, (ideally if you're using it indoors,) find that there is much odor from the decomposing fish waste? 2. Do people use worms in their sand beds to help break down the fish waste? What are your thoughts about having worms in the sand bed? 3. Can the design of the system be modified to incorporate other modules such as NFT troughs, DWC rafts, (non-sand) media beds? I would assume that any of these would be placed after the sand bed for the purpose of filtration. If one or more of these modules were part of the overall design, would that necessitate a sump tank? Thanks in advance!
  3. OK, so now we're kind of circling back to a point I made earlier: What is the real meaning of "profitable"? Or, better yet, what should it be? In our society currently, the standard measurement of wealth is money. Unfortunately, this is neither beneficial, nor is it accurate. Wealth should be measured in terms of health, happiness and abundance. If it was possible to run an integrated system, make enough food to sustain your family and perhaps a few others (or more - which is totally achievable with quite limited space) and enough extra to sell/barter for goods one does not produce, isn't that profitable? To me, the answer is yes. On the other hand, if the goal is that the system be profitable in terms of your run-of-the-mill commercial enterprise, then most likely, (and as it has been fairly clearly and repeatedly noted here on the board) aquaponics is not going to work. That's not to say that it can't, but I think with a standard business model, it would be very difficult if not impossible to turn a profit, as both Gary and Paul have explained.
  4. Very inspiring! Might have to convince the wife that a basement system is managable. She's concerned about smell...
  5. To be clear, I don't think I said anything about it being "the most important thing". I said that any commerically viable system needs to be meticulously scaled to the local market conditions. This is absolutely crucial (all other things being equal, like business experience, technical savvy, good help, etc.) if aquaponics is the sole enterprise, and not supported by a more diverse product range. It's not just about knowing your local market, which is self-evident when business planning or running, like you said, but having that knowledge dictate the scale, at least in the inital stages, of one's system build. That's the point I was trying to communicate. I'm worried that further debate about the Friendly model here will derail the topic. This is something that I feel has been beaten to death, and should not need to be rehashed at this point in this thread. You're right that the vast majority of people (for the time being) don't see the added value in "organic" or any of it's other permutations, which lends further creedence to what I've already asserted. AP is only going to be viable if a local premium market exists or if the costs can be driven down low enough to compete with produce/fish grown in "non-organic"/standard or more commonplace or established methods. Considering I have little to no small business experience, no farm experience, no aquaculture experience, and some plant maintenance experience, according to what you've stated, my outlook is pretty grim. On the other hand, my fiancee tells me I should be earning some sort of degree with the amount of time I have spent studying and poring over every conceivable aspect of this business. I wish it was clearer who out there are charlatans and who are offering the real goods when it comes to AP education. I have been to UVI for their short course, and I cannot say that anyone who has taken that program would come out ready to start their own enterprise. How much should one spend on educating themselves before just taking the leap and getting into practice? Even with all of the literature out there, I have read several AP books that I think are absolute rubbish. I could until my eyeballs fell out and still would not be completely comfortable jumping into a commerical system. Unless UVI or some other offical educational institution offers a degree or certification in AP, I would say that everyone is basically getting the same stuff from anyone out there who is offering an AP course. So I'm going to bring this back to your point about good people - any AP business is not going to survive without them, and it is there that the diversification of skills can exist. For someone to possess all of the necessary skills to run this type of business is rare indeed, (electrical, farm management, business management, human resources, finances, plumbing, carpentry, etc.) so in my mind that has to be built into the business plan. I know realistically that I can't be doing to the bookkeeping, being the technician, doing the harvesting, etc. all by myself. Does that mean I should stop pushing forward in my effort? I'm definitely not ready to give up at this point. What I am ready to do is network and partner with other people who do have those skills and are keen on this endeavour. This forum has been priceless in my education. For all the books I have read, the UVI course, scholarly articles, etc. I have probably learned more, and have been able to trust the information more coming from fellow forumites here than anywhere else. These are experts and people with direct practical experience, and are invaluable. I think it is unendingly commendable that Gary has made it his mission (and other fellows here to follow this mission) to dispel AP myths, and to keep the direction of the forum trained on accuracy and empirical evidence and to keep it away from the infighting that has plagued many other forums. That's what drew me here in the first place and the reason I stay. Thank you all!! On one last note, I think that there should be (perhaps in another thread) a discussion about the "business" of AP without the financial pressures. This is actually something that I have been struggling with throughout my business development process. In short, I feel there is a big disconnect between the theory/practice of AP and it's commerical application. If I don't have to live and die by local market conditions this is a good thing. This technology should be helping people increase their food soverignty and self-sufficiency, not a means to develop another industry that can always be exploited by those with more money. I don't want to have to worry about competition, or creating a brand because we're talking about food, which is something to which we should all be entitled. I could go on for some time, but I'll say this: I now have an opportunity through the local farmer's market and subsidized by grants from the government to create an "urban farm" on the market grounds with a mandate of youth engagement in agriculture. To me, this is the ideal. Instead of having to commericalize something that I feel should belong to anyone and everyone, it can be done as a community project. And since this will be part of the Western Fair and farmer's market it means that any fish/produce that are harvested can be sold 20 feet away. Once the system is well established, and only then, we can see if it is commercially viable and can scale up in a different location if appropriate. Even at that point, I would be focused on the triple-bottom-line aspect of the financial side, or running it as a non-profit or on a co-op model.
  6. There isn't going to be any hard and fast rule for how much vegetables you are going to get from how many fish. It's just impossible because there are too many variables. What kind of filtration are you using? What kind of GBs? (DWC, wicking, media, etc.) And there are lots of other factors that contribute. The reason I referred to Dr. Lennard's fact sheet is that he states you should start sizing your system by figuring out the total square footage of space you need to grow the amount of plants you would like to grow, and using that information to figure out how much waste the fish will produce based on the amount of feed you are giving them. I guess what I'm trying to say is that a certain weight of fish is going to produce a wide range of vegetables based on the variables of each different system. If you're looking for something more broad there are plenty of numbers for both fish and veggies that have been put forth in studies and papers by UVI, etc.
  7. I'd say look into yellow perch, but they do have a long grow-out time.
  8. I think that Dr. Wilson Lennard's fact sheet is very helpful when it comes to figuring out sizing. http://www.aquaponic.com.au/fact%20sheets.htm
  9. Very true. I was just reading today that they have detected radiation in Alaska that is from Fukushima, and that it is going to make its way down the West coast of the US. Most marine life is being ravaged by the radiation in the water. Very sad state of affairs. About this technology though - what I really like is how little labour is required to keep it going. Transplanting seedling is a one-person job, and for harvest you might need one or two more people, but that's it. Leave it to the Japanese to develop something so efficient.
  10. The more I read the more I am convinced that this entire argument is about scale. The only way that commercial aquaponics is viable is if it is meticulously scaled to local market conditions. If the system can be built cheaply using free-sourced or donated materials and built modular-ly so that it is easy to add-on in the future, I think it can be viable. There is a bit of risk mitigation by keeping it small to start. Without a doubt the most essential factor (other than proper planning and systems management) is the local market. No point in growing if there aren't enough people that are going to buy your product. Without a doubt aquaculture and hydroponics individually are still going to outperform AP, but I have a feeling this might have more to do with having been established for a longer amount of time as functional systems - more widely and successfully practiced, and having less complicated, inter-related systems, needing fewer inputs and less labour than an integrated system on a large scale.
  11. Hopefully the link below works. If not, just do a search for Grandpa Dome hydroponics Japan. Have you all seen this system? What do you think the capacity would be to convert this to AP? Could you have fish swimming in the reservoir below or would they damage the roots hanging into the water? Regardless of it's application to AP, I think this is very interesting configuration and system design. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F_WuJ9P1u-k ‎
  12. I think sumps are important as a functional element in a system. They provide an "extra" volume of water to mitigate water level issues throughout the system. They are also a handy place to make your base additions (a la UVI system).
  13. Here's a link to the article, with instructions: http://www.motherearthnews.com/diy/hoop-house-zm0z11zmat.aspx#axzz2ivsutNX5
  14. Has anybody heard of these systems? I just learned about them the other day. From the literature it seems that they save space and electricity, and if you're growing inside this means significantly less lighting fixtures. What do y'all think about using these or similar units for the hydroponic portion of a system? http://www.rotogro.com