GaryD

A Crash Course in Commercial AP System Design

243 posts in this topic

Hi,

One of the demonstrable achievements of Friendly Aquaponics has been to dramatically reduce the cost of constructing raft troughs. This innovation is reflected in various clone systems like Green Acre Organics and Coast View Aquaponics.

They use plywood and timber (rather than cement blocks or concrete......or fibreglass).

Gary

Hi Gary

Sure we can build out of just about anything. I would like to focus primarily on the UVI system first from a cost and production point of view, then move onto other cost savings pros and cons senarios if that works for you.

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352 area code is west central Florida. I would be somewhat loathe to be using timber in ground contact. Much of the Southern states are infested with the Formosa termite. Since Green Acre claims organic I doubt they would use treated lumber. Its a problem waiting to happen.

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Hi,

Oops, miscalculated above in blocks & cement... none the less...

Raft @ 22m x 2.44m x .6m

Blocks = 475 x $2.50 = $1187.50

Cement = 15 x 20kg bags = $117.00

Foam = 19 sheets @ $16.50 = $315.00

Liner = 85.9sm @ 0.5mm @ $17.50sm = $1503.25 (@ 1.0mm = $2362.25)

Total = $3122.25 (liner @ 1.0mm = $3985.75)

Ill get on to costing a timber one later this arvo...

Cheers

Toga

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Raft @ 22m x 2.44m x .6m

Liner = 85.9sm @ 0.5mm @ $17.50sm = $1503.25 (@ 1.0mm = $2362.25)

Looking great Toga.

The area of the liner. Has that allowed for the depth and some overlap at the top?

We should also note that UVI use a low density polyethylene liner. They say 20mm thick but I expect it is 2mm. Do we have a price on that gear anywhere?

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Hi EG,

Yes, depth & overlap included.

Hi JohnMc,

3 rows high as our standard building blocks are 190mm - 2 blocks high would be to shallow.

Ahh cheers EG... found some low density polyethylene liner @ 1.5mm @ $10.00sm -

(only 2mm I can find is high density @ $19.50sm)

Using low density polyethylene liner 1.5mm brings us to -

Raft @ 22m x 2.44m x .6m

Blocks = 475 x $2.50 = $1187.50

Cement = 15 x 20kg bags = $117.00

Foam = 19 sheets @ $16.50 = $315.00

Liner = 85.9sm @ low density polyethylene liner 1.5mm @ $10.00sm = $859.00

Total = $2478.00

Cheers

Toga

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Toga,

How many rows high did you go on the block for the trough so I can match it?

note - calculated @ 3 blocks deep= raft depth of 570mm

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In an Australian Context for the rafts:

Raft @ 22m x 2.44m x .6m

Blocks = 475 x $2.50 = $1187.50

Cement = 15 x 20kg bags = $117.00

Foam = 19 sheets @ $16.50 = $315.00

Liner = 85.9sm @ low density polyethylene liner 1.5mm @ $10.00sm = $859.00

Total = $2478.00

Thanks Toga great work mate

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Here might be a DIY approach if you used

. Only thing is I would use a mortar sprayer for application and would apply it to both the block and the trench to prevent slump. Follow with trowling to smooth the inside surface.

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Costs so far:

Capital costs:

Land.

Buildings Aquaculture and plants, greenhouses "fish houses"

Equipment costs.

  • Rafts = AU $4956 (GST included?)
  • Pumps. = We need to size
  • Plumbing.= We need to size
  • Tanks = cost of 4 x 3800 liter glass tanks
  • Sump = We need to size
  • Solids filter = clarifier and netting?
  • Biofilter = ?

Heating. = not using

Cooling. = not using

Testing and monitoring equipment.

Source water treatment

Waste water treatment

Overhead:

Electricity. = AU - $0.06/kw

Gas?

Water

Source water treatment

Waste water treatment

Labour.

Pest control.

Additives.

Fish.

Plants.

Business running costs

Sales and marketing.

Packing of produce.

Transport.

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Are this the price for organic lettuce or hydroponic.

I will move the (Tanks,Rafts,Growbeds,Media) in the capital starting cost.

cheers

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Are this the price for organic lettuce or hydroponic.

I will move the (Tanks,Rafts,Growbeds,Media) in the capital starting cost.

cheers

Done!

The prices are wholesale - I can not see if they are hydro but more than likely - John may be able to clarify.

franco, do you want to start applying costs for your region?

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The price i pay(from the grower) for hydro lettuce range from 110 thb to 140 thb per kg.(3.5 $ to 4.2 $) where i live and run my business is a small town in thailand.

On my next trip to bangkok i will take note of prices of organic lettuce.

franco

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on the big island, locally produced, organically certified, pre-washed mixed lettuce sold retail to the store for USD $5.92 per pound, then costco sold it for over $7.

the transport cost was $75 per pallet measuring 40" X 48" x 72". this was to ship from the FAP farm to the Costco outlet over 2 hours away.

their farm was certified for grey water disposal.

their farm was cleared for agricultural water which greatly reduced the cost of water, but the exact price i don't remember, but could be looked up im sure on the internet...

the packaging of produce should be broken down into multiple categories with multiple spaces in each category to compare and contrast the bagging and boxing options.

bags: perforated vs. non, biodegradable vs. non, single color labels vs, multi color, and of course batch order size needs to be considered..

Boxes: style,( folded or glued), then the rest basically follows the same variables as the bags.

also labor should have multiple entries for things like value added applications... single head washed vs. single head unwashed ws. lettuce mix washed vs. lettuce mix unwashed... then the appropriate labor costs of which product would be fit in the labor column, with the difference being calculated to show which would be the most viable... some people get mislead when it comes to value added... the labor to produce should be considered... just because you can get an extra $2 for a bag of mixed lettuce than you can a single head, the labor required to produce that bagged lettuce might outweigh its income.

we could go the route of starting off with the UVI system and whittling away at cost saving techniques... but then we'll be making dozens of changes just to show what some of us already know... depending on where you get your materials the FAP system is only $11-$15 per linear foot... they use concrete form steaks and 2x4's to frame up the top of the troughs, and then they drape and fold the liner to fit. no lumber on the ground unless you attach a protective wall of particle board... without that protective wall their systems linear footage drops another full $1-$2...

also, one thing that should be pointed out is the difference between a high density system, a balanced system, and a low density system... this would great effect the amount of over heads in the forms of fish feed, aeration, plant seeds, and also effect the incomes from plants and fish. so really... only building one sheet to identify all of the variables is only the beginning, you'll have to then add in the variables to the different systems... the FAP farm runs a low density system... so they'd be using far less feed than a high density system, and also produce a higher plant - fish ratio.

but the biggest part of what everyone is missing is outside natural inputs...

here's where im going with this... the FAP farm relies heavily on the use of organisms to do most of their dirty work... this is why their smallest system (microsystem) has no solid settling portion of the building plans... the use of gammarus to mineralize the solids has changed the building cost of the entire system and also negated the labor of cleaning the filters...

also another organism they use is the mosquito fish... mosquito fish serve a dual purpose. they not only handle the pest problem, but they are also another source of viable nutrients for the system. im guessing the use of mosquito fish is the reason why they are able to keep expanding their systems without adding to the fish mass intheir fish tanks... the mosquito fish population is continuously growing with each trough set expansion... which means more mosquitos have more space to lay eggs, and more mosquito fish are eating the eggs and larva and algae, and thus release nitrogen and solids into the system.

without the proper detailing of all of the organisms that are at work in their systems people buying the manuals are quickly finding out that the same systems that might work without the solid settling portions with the use of mosquito fish and gammarus, are failing without the use of those organisms... it's not a slight against their farm, because they have proven something scientifically sound... they've proven that the use of those 2 organisms are not only beneficial to the system, but can change the physical nature of the systems as well in the realms of construction, maintenance and expansion.

so this would lead into a whole other category... which would be farm expansion... the expansion would no longer be a 1-1 type deal. build one fish tank and then build its set of troughs... you'd start out with one tank, then keep adding aditional troughs when the mosquito fish and gammarus population caught up... the current standard being held on the friendly aquaponics farm is 1 fish tank with around 3000-5000lbs of fish mass feeding into 12 troughs measuring 80ft x 4ft x1ft...

they've also been able to reduce the amount of plumbing by using the organisms living in their system... instead of the troughs being in pairs, the latest addition of monster system features 4 troughs connected in a series... trough 1 feeds into trough 2, which feeds into trough 3, which feeds into the last trough, which then dumps into the sump tank. the only problem they faced with that was aeration, but you'll be adding that into your troughs any ways to maximize productivity. doing things this way would cut the costs of pipes and fittings almost in half.i built that portion of their system, i spent 7 months watching it every day, and the only problem they had was the levels of D.O. in the water from the fish tank not holding up on its long journey, but like i stated before, you'll be adding aeration into the troughs anyways to maximize the lettuce grow rates,so really the failing D.O. level is a non issue, just something i thought should be posted.

also, one last thing here...

failure rates should be added to the seeds and harvest categories.

if 30% of your seeds fail to sprout, for one reason or another, this will greatly impact your seed costs... the same goes for the pests that could enter your system or plant diseases... so adding multiple failure rates to each individual category, then working your way through best case down to worst case scenarios is... so you'll be looking at things like a 2% failure rate on sprouts coupled with a 5% failure rate on sellable product (because lets fact it, it'll never be perfect), to a 75%-80% failure rate on sprouts coupled with a 75%-80% loss of product... building a controlled environment will help in these situation, but they'll only help so much... you could get an infected seed, or some bugs can be brought in vis the folds of your clothes, someone could over water the seeds, or someone could smoke a cigarette and not wash their hands and you'll be looking at the catastrophic failure known as the mosaic virus, which would more than highlight the worst case scenario of 100% farm failure, total loss, and the cost of starting from scratch, which will include the labor to serialize the whole facility, restock the fish, replant the produce, and otherwise operate with no income... this would show the investor how much they should always have set aside incase such things occur... the FAP went through such a catastrophic failure a few months after i had left... had to start production over from seed 1.

Edited by Damon (see edit history)

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post-3633-13795789320336_thumb.jpg

here is a picture of how i'd build the troughs to reduce the cost... sorry that it's a bit crude.... but i did it on the pain program...

i did leave the protective walls on it, but like i mentioned above.. leaving them off would reduce the the building cost.. the actual walls of the troughs are only for protection, they serve no other structural purpose... all of the weight of the troughs that's not sitting on the ground is being held up by the form steaks. the parabolic arc of the trough liner uses the water eight to pull the outer walls downward instead of the water weight pushing outward.

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Hi Guys and gals,

Good stuff, I am enjoying this thread.. thanks..

What this thread has done for me so far is, It has re - enforced, that there is a lot of work in just the initial costing let alone all the other associated costs which I'm sure we'll get to later.. I have noted there are some people on the forums who think they can just start and run an aquaponics commercial set up with out a really good business plan and they think they can be successful with inferior outlay and training..Unfortunately those people who insist on going down that path I think are heading for financial disaster. Hopefully they will read all the good info in this thread posted till now and further more to come, and think things a lot more before acting in a "gung ho" manner.

Maybe a couple of other things to add to the list are

Oxy injection and associated equipment(do we need that?) and

Consulting fees both initial and ongoing, aqua culture?, horticulture?, vets?

Keep up the good work folks, it's all good stuff.

Cheers.

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I would like to focus primarily on the UVI system first from a cost and production point of view, then move onto other cost savings pros and cons senarios if that works for you.

Sure.......I should have remembered that this thing was UVI-oriented initially.

Let me say that I'm delighted with the cooperative way in which this is going together.

Gary

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Hi Damon,

Though all of that is great info that does have a place of consideration, for the purpose of this exercise EG has chosen the UVI model and is applying it to Australian market place. Each regional location will have its own set of variables & costs, which will just confuse this thread.

Cheers

Toga

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Toga, i do understand that it's meant to be used for australia, and i do know that the part about mosquito fish isn't applicable to that region, but the building materials is applicable everywhere, as is the failure rates, bagging and boxing choices, value added vs. cost of labor, and expansion rate costs...

the other parts were for the use outside of australia... if it confuses those looking to go into commercialism... then those people should ask themselves if their expectations are exceeding their talents... this exercise can be applicable to those in other regions of the world, so i see it being fair to throw in a nugget of info from this side of the planet and explain the FAP's expansion costs as an example of possibility....

not trying to confuse or muddy the waters, just adding the things i've looked into when i build these types of cost analysis sheets for other people.

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Hi Damon,

I think the point is that EG is trying to set this up premised on the UVI system......at this stage. That means that the guys will need to do their calculations based on UVI's use of cement blocks.

We'll get a chance to look at ways to trim costs down the track.

Gary

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lol ok, when it gets to the point i'll just c/p... and i went through all of that trouble to resize that image.

i just saw some categories that were generalized, and some that needed insertion... when we get into the depths of regional cost analysis and and product development, that's where the real fun begins. all of the compairing and contrasting...

i guess i'll sit back and wait my turn...

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Righto we are moving at a much faster pace than I expected.

I appreciate everyones input and look forward to more as we roll along.

I will clarify the intention of this discussion for those that wish to contribute.

We are using the opening post senario

We are working out cost to build such a thing using the same materials

I would like to see costings from different regions, such as AU, USA, Asia, EU so we can get a broad look at the different areas which we would not ordinarily have access to. Not just AU.

I will work on the actual design drawings of the system for pump sizing, pipe work and configuation later as the design evolves.

The intention is to produce a range of costing information for a variety of regions with some regional related market prices for produce. Along with system designs that people can work with.

This will be free to everyone who wants it without restriction. This thread is simply the discussion and input from everone interested and I would also like to recognise all those that help put it together.

To add more, often it has been said "why not contribe" etc, so I think this is a great way for this particular community to contribute to spreading some information that is relative to those interested in commercial food production.

I can assure you we will not be using it to sell products or courses but I can not speak for everyone.

So if you want to contribute with your local know how please do....

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Costs so far:

Capital costs:

Land.

Buildings Aquaculture and plants, greenhouses "fish houses"

Equipment costs.

  • Rafts = AU $4956 (GST included?)
  • Pumps. = We need to size
  • Plumbing.= We need to size
  • Tanks = cost of 4 x 3800 liter glass tanks
  • Sump = We need to size
  • Solids filter = clarifier and netting?
  • Biofilter = ?

Heating. = not using

Cooling. = not using

Testing and monitoring equipment.

Source water treatment

Waste water treatment

Overhead:

Electricity. = AU - $0.06/kw

Fish Food

Oxy injection and associated equipment(do we need that?)

Consulting fees both initial and ongoing, aqua culture?, horticulture?, vets?

Gas?

Water

Source water treatment

Waste water treatment

Labour.

Pest control.

Additives.

Fingerlings

Plants.

Business running costs

Sales and marketing.

Packing of produce.

Transport.

Insurance

Chemicals - yes I know.... but salt, hydroxide etc....

Income:

Fish species:

Tilapia - current prices

???

Plant speices:

Lettuce varieties?

Herb varieties?

Keeping in mind this is raft only for now......

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