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Everything posted by Clint

  1. NP Ed, Life has a way of doing that sometimes. Hope all is good. Best, Clint
  2. HI Y'all, I have a small aquaponic farm in Central Texas, pictures and such can be viewed on the website (see link below). First, I will tell you about the configuration: 32' x 132' high tunnel, shade in summer, single poly in winter, no heat no cooling. From the 2200 gallon fish tank the water flows continuously to two 4' x 12' media/worm beds with a Flout (mechanical drain) in each to fill and drain 24/7. From here the water flows to a 110 gal stock tank (biofilter/clarifier/polisher/whatever you want to call it) rising from the bottom with 3 Matala filters (3 differing densities) and some bird netting then into the first trough of 2000 sq ft (2 - 2' x 100' and 2 - 8' x 100'), where the pump pulls from the last trough back to the fish tank. I germinate in some nursery stands I have made in the green house when temp permits and otherwise in a heated or cooled room I have, depending on outside temps. Some back story, I started in aquaponics in May 2012, when I teamed up with a local farmer, bought the FAP DIY manual and built the first high tunnel and system from those designs. I had some previous experience with aquarium fish and hydroponics, but only at the small hobby level. I am pretty handy with construction and understanding how most things work so with the help of the internet we were off and running, so to speak. I learned pretty early on that working for the farmer was not going to be the experience I hoped for so started looking to get my own property and system running. In June 2013, I moved onto the present property and began building. With only the occasional help I got the new and improved system up and running with fish going in in early August. The improvements or some would say and I agree, necessities from the earlier build were the additions of the media/worm bed and the tank filter. A system without filtration is only asking for anaerobic activity, fish deaths and the wasting of time cleaning troughs of smelly anaerobic fish waste. By mid Oct. 2013 I had my first crop of lettuce and have grown around 16,000 products up till now (primarily lettuce, but also kale, Swiss Chard, couple types of basil, radicchio, Napa cabbage, bok choi, tatsoi and the list goes on, some with success some not). I was able to learn about the surrounding market demand (within 3 hours of me there are nearly 20 million people) while working at the first farm and used those contacts to develop my sales and marketing leads for my primary sales to wholesale buyers. In developing my business plan I also was looking at Farmer's Markets and my own CSA. For my wholesale buyers I was hoping to produce 500-900 products per week for 40-45 weeks of the year. For this first year I will be a little off the low number but I did go through many product losses, bugs and what not. I am still happy with the point I have gotten to but realize that I need to add another 2000- 4000 sq ft of growing area if I am going to make a better than break even living at this. I will also have to move from a simple one man operation to have 2-3 workers, mainly for harvesting, but also some planting. The above takes me anywhere from 30-40 hrs per week to run, but doubling grow space would not double time required as some synergies of scale could be achieved. I had envisioned the aquaponics to be the backbone of a small farming operation (microponics) with maybe a few dirt crops (eg. sweet potatoes, melons, squash) some chickens (eggs mainly for the Farmer's Markets and CSA), rabbits (good meat and would give my kids something to help with), vermiculture (I have all the waste from harvesting to compost), maybe some pigs and I always have other ideas coming but only so much time. I wanted to grow my own food and make a decent living while enjoying the work I do. There is much more I can write but will leave it with that and answer as many questions as I can, want or have time too.
  3. I did purchase it as a kit, it is only a bunch of hoops and some hardware, very basic. Try, good prices quality products. If you have BWI companies in your are they are also a good source for most growing and greenhouse supplies, I think they carry Conley's greenhouses as well.
  4. Hi Spin, Be careful when you mention "commercial" we have gone through a huge amount of discussion about what is a commercial ap operation and while mine in the picture was 2000 sq of dwc it was far from "commerical", that would be in the 10,000 sq ft and greater, imho. The dwc bed design was fairly simple, with 2x4's, hardi plank siding, concrete stakes, duraskrim liner, 1" pvc air line and 3" bulkheads at each end with connecting 3" pvc pipe. I don't have a diy website or video that I can point you to, not sure if you have checked out google and searched for such but maybe something will come up with that. If you want somethings such a detailed parts list with pricing and such, you can message me and we can discuss your project further. Clint
  5. So back to the "is commercial aquaponics viable discussion". Bad management? I followed these guys from their inception, State backing, Veteran employment, links with Cornell, near a huge market....what went wrong?
  6. Beer and crawfish sound good! I got my tank from Red Ewald, good stuff. Be interested to hear your business plan and design. Have a good look a Paul's (earthan group) dual loop system, one of the best out there, imho. Clint
  7. Hi Rob, Tough going finding properties, I helped a group out with their high tunnel the other day and they took a couple years to find a piece of land as well. I am in Katy back at my old sales job and doing ap and greenhouse stuff on the side. Building back yard systems and checking out new ideas/proposals as they come about. Just started working with a group from South Texas that has some good ideas for personal and school systems, will see how it develops. Clint
  8. Spin, Thanks for the praise. What sort of info do you want about the long raft beds? Clint
  9. I was going to build something like them for myself, I moved from the farm to a place in Katy, TX, but am only renting so I want something non permanent. How much do you sell them for? They look really good. Do you sell them at the San Antonio Farmer's markets?
  10. Nice, thanks. I like the bucket with the float value to auto water.
  11. Nice stuff, what are the brown things on pics 1 and 2? Any pictures of these in use?
  12. Ed, How did your system develop? I am more interested on if you used the felt pots as wicking pots and how that worked. I am in the process putting together a little wicking system and was going to use 18 gal plastic totes and instead of putting a weed barrier and filling up with compost I figured it would be easier to use the felt pots you mentioned and a soiless/compost enhanced mix. I can set them right on top of the expanded shale and let them go at it. Makes for ease of moving things around and changing up the mix as the seasons change. Thoughts?
  13. Hi All, Just finished this system up for a friend. 12' x 18' greenhouse with 3' x 12' wicking bed, 4' x 12' DWC trough, radial filter, bio filter and fish tank. Just cylcing the system and hope to have it greening up soon. Best, Clint
  14. Thanks and good thoughts. I am watching the water mixing that will be happening with the water flow in and the aeration to keep that issue in check. Thanks for mentioning it. Clint
  15. Thanks Gary. I also built them 2 outdoor wicking beds and they should have year round clean fresh food
  16. Not a fish guy, but am in the Houston area and could show you how to build a radial flow filter in a couple hours and less than $100. All need is a plastic barrel, 20-30 gallon, a 5 gallon pail, a few pvc fittings and some uniseals. Message me with your number and we can talk it though.
  17. HI all, Just thought I would post a a little build I did today. Material cost about $100 USD and took me about 7 hours with a trip to the lumber store to get a couple things I forgot. Next up the backyard ap system, with wicking beds as the main stay. Enjoy, Clint
  18. Looks fantastic! Paul what is the spacing used on the kale? I tried some with about 66/m2 and they did well, just wondering if you got them any tighter? And you mentioned that you don't use any pesticides directly on the plants does that include organic treatments such as neem? Clint
  19. I can understand what you mean by that. It is just like what commercial aquaponics means, many different interpretations all depended on what you want to achieve or the end game. We are on the same page.
  20. Ryan, Paul put some good context to the costs, though ML Aquaponics has been in operation for over ten years now, but I am not sure what his costs were at start up. The 450k was for him to design and get someone else set up in their own market not to buy his operation. So it speaks to Charles comment that ML indicated a ROI of about 8% and I think that is on his website. As for the question of commercial ap size and economies of scales, I have stated that ML thinks that to achieve EoS he needs to be 2-3 times larger. I can only go by my experience and thoughts, but when I started this journey I thought I could be commercial with a 3000 sq ft greenhouse and growing 700 heads of lettuce per week. But after some trial by fire and some more research the difference between small scale aquaponics and commercial ap became apparent and it is the difference of being an owner operator of a semi truck and a trucking company. One is a small business that is dependent on the owner operating it the other is a multifaceted operations with many workers and much more complexity. A commercial operation should run in the 15,000 heads or units of produce per week, combined with a aquaculture product to sustain that and be profitable on it owns right. The produce side will be the main profit center by a larger factor, but a commercial ap operation is more than a mom and pop/small farm operation. While these operations can be profitable, they are not in themselves viable without attaching other farm related businesses to the sales model. How much is enough for me personally is really not a relevant question, I used to work in a industry and make six figures and at times that was not enough. I went into ap/farming as a lifestyle choice planning on making 40K/yr. It all depends on how you want to live not how I want to live. But when it comes to commercial produce operations, this is about selling thousands of units per week to grocery stores, restaurant chains and the like ie, other commercial businesses then EoS is important and has to be determined as part of a business and marketing plan. Hope that helps answer your questions. Just my 2 cents. Clint
  21. That was Tourist AP and not commercial AP. We are changing the subject matter on
  22. Thanks Paul for the speedy reply. And result is too expensive, find another place to invest money.
  23. Ryan, I did not think it was, I looked at what he is offering and talked with him. This is what commercial aquaponics costs. I know John and Paul would have a better assessment of the cost, but when you take account all the factors, doing commercial aquaponics is not as easy as the many of the get rich quick schemes out there lead you to believe. It is hard work and not something you do from your couch with an iphone. I would welcome a more detailed response to why you think it is over priced and what basis/experience you have for making any assumptions and comments.