kellenw

Fellow APN member building the world's biggest commercial AP system?

404 posts in this topic

I use pure oxygen in both systems. At this size, for me it is more cost effective even considering my kw cost is very low compared to other places.

 

 

Since you got the oxygen part handled with LOX injection, do you use aeration in the fish tanks more so to expel the accumulated carbon dioxide released from the fish or is the flow rate through your fish tank sufficient to not worry about CO2 impacts on the water chemistry?

Edited by crsublette (see edit history)

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Paul,

 

Thanks for the video on planting densities.  The multiple seeds per pots is a good idea and I have already been using it for things like celery, chives and  upland cress.  I look forward to seeing more on the spinach, big demand for it here, but I have always had trouble growing it.  

 

What is a MBBR?

 

Clint

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I have a MBBR for that Charles with a whopping set of blowers on it.

 

Ok. Sounds like the flow rate through your fish tank is sufficient, that is then dumped into the MBBR, to expel the CO2.

 

Do you suspect an increase in the flow rate amongst the fish tank and MBBR once the fish get bigger? How many fish tank "turn overs" per hour are you thinking of accomplishing while the fish are young and then once the fish get older? Do you find this "turn over" rate dependent on your ammonia testing results, and, if so, what are the conditional controls you have in mind to determine the adjustment?

 

I figure the answers would be depedent on the volume of bio-medium in the MBBR. So, lets assume you have an appropriate amount of medium already in the MBBR to satisfy the demands for your largest fish density when they are at maturity.

 

I find this quite interesting. Thanks. :)

Edited by crsublette (see edit history)

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Dude, the limiting input is oxygen.  We test oxygen every day and adjust the flow rate when needed to provide the level of oxygen required.  The ammonia is not a consideration.  The system is designed to cope with 180kg of feed per day across all limitings factors.  If I had the budget and the size of the farm justified it, the valves would be automatic to adjust for the oxygen as needed.  The pumps are VSD so they speed up and slow down as needed when we open or close valves.

Edited by Paul Van der Werf (see edit history)
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Yeah, ok, so sounds like there is a coefficient rate of oxygen input per flow rate. So, if there is 180kg of feed per day, what is the flow rate into the MBBR? What is the total fish tank volume that is filtered by this MBBR filter?

Edited by crsublette (see edit history)

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"Aquapon" should always be pronounced with a whining nasal accent while banging on your most insincere smile. :wink:

I think you mean Grey Poupon?  :)

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Yeah, ok, so sounds like there is a coefficient rate of oxygen input per flow rate. So, if there is 180kg of feed per day, what is the flow rate into the MBBR? What is the total fish tank volume that is filtered by this MBBR filter?

 

I dont recall all the numbers off the top of my head...   We have capacity to turn the tanks over 1.5 times per hour which gives a 10 minute  retention time in the bio filter.  At lower loads the retention in the bio filter is longer.  We are running about half speed now so the retention is around 20 minutes.

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Excellent! Thanks! Exactly what I curious about.

 

Sorry for the cause of aggravation. I sometimes have difficulty in writing my questions with the clarity and precision I have in my head. In essence, seems like I have a poor language interpreter so to express what's on my mind or might just be these dang sinuses. ;)

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No problem at all Charles.  The details of the system design escape me most of the time, especially after it is built.  I know what it is designed to carry, but we will not run it that high.  I would say we will run to about 120kg of feed per day in the first year to give the lads some experience at lower density.  If the market opens up and the demand for our fish increases, we can change the density up within 5 weeks so we can respond to market fairly quickly.

 

My approach is to run a system for the first 12 months at the minimum to gain us entry to the market place without having to sell out fish cheap to move onto the next batch for any particular tank.  This gives the new person time to "acclimate" themselves with the fish husbandry without losing too much hair.  The volumes of production are high enough to supply steady volume with profit and increase as needed as the market share grows.

 

It is the same for the plants.  If you don't have a market ready and willing to purchase at sustainable prices, you are better off growing less in your start up and as your market grows, you increase the plant density and production.  For example we are running about the normal 25 pots per square meter now.  That is about half of our growing capacity.  As our customer base increases, we can increase the density of the plants, just like the fish without additional capital.

 

We do the numbers on half capacity for the fish and plants, if that is sustainable, any increase in density across both disciplines will increase the return.   Without a marketing force pre-selling your entire production and/or supply contracts chances are it will take at least 12 months to gain a market presence.  Considering the low level of skills on the farm, this allows for mistakes to be made and learning to be had without damaging your supply reputation.

 

Many may do this with a modular approach.  Build a small system, then replicate it with all the capital that takes while in operations.  I prefer to spend the money up front, run lower densities while learning the systems and market, then increase production output without further capital that you may not have 12 or 24 months down the track.

 

Raising capital at start-up is easy compared to raising cash later on for expansions.  The replication of a module, in my mine, would be a nightmare to manage.  Each system would behalf differently at a chemistry and production level.  Adjusting your management for each module, I would find more challenging than learning one system and simply increasing to the output it was designed for at a rate your market grows.

 

Just my thoughts right or wrong...

Edited by Paul Van der Werf (see edit history)
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To expand on the above comments:

 

Recently, a client of mine had $1million to spend and wanted to build an integrated aquaculture system.  Due to his market location and demand, I suggested he build a RAS fish farm, get his skills up on one discipline and run that until he is cash flow positive and had developed his fish sales market.  In about 2 years, he can consider if he wants to add the hydroponic subsystem.  He may find, due his location, the fish sales is profitable enough and not spend anymore on a hydro expansion and make his living by fish farming alone.

 

Another had 100k to spend and due to his market, I suggested his start up with a hydro system and venture into the veggie market.  If that works out for him and he has the available capital he can tack on an aquaculture system and run with that.  His location made fish farming somewhat difficult with low value fish on the market, poor logistics and access to what is needed to  farm fish in a RAS system.

 

Ultimately, in the minds of many of the smarter investors, their mind is on returns, not how warm and fluffy they can be with the eco science.  An integrated system does not always make sense financially and there is no point in doing it the dollars don't add up regardless of the hype.  It is always easier, and simpler to manage one discipline and market and get that right.

 

For example, not quite related.  A local "organic" farm here is running the gauntlet with the organic produce scene and it is quite a strong business.  They have their own farm, CSA boxes and some corporate clients.  Everyone is excited about the organic produce they sell. While I commend them for their efforts in an arid climate, I condemn them for their excessive water use.

 

Part of the organic standard is the farmer uses local resources that does no long term damage to the local ecology.  Watering sand with 6 times the total water I use to produce the same amount of produce, does not add up to an organic farm.  The public don't care about what the cost is to be organic, as long as it has an organic label.  The producer explained to me "it is not like we are wasting the water, when we bring it up (high salt content water) and irrigate the surface, it goes back down to the water table and we use it again".....  I can see they are expecting to live for a few hundred years.....

When I responded with, "the water table on this farm and in this area was 10 meters under the surface, now it is 400 meters down 20 years later, effectively there is no water."  The local farmers used to flood and drain large paddocks (large scale flood and drain) until they ran out of water and the Gov. shut down farming in the area completely unless they are using a recapture method of water use such as hydro....

Yet, the certifying body here is trying to stop me from organic certification because I "grow on water" when in fact my irrigation system is under the plants to prevent the 18 liters per day per m2 evaporation....  

 

Just another way of approaching it with a little rant....

Edited by Paul Van der Werf (see edit history)
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Ultimately, in the minds of many of the smarter investors, their mind is on returns, not how warm and fluffy they can be with the eco science.  An integrated system does not always make sense financially and there is no point in doing it the dollars don't add up regardless of the hype.  It is always easier, and simpler to manage one discipline and market and get that right.

 

A point that's perhaps made by recent "Viridis" events... or at least I suspect the underlying point of recent events there

Edited by RupertofOZ (see edit history)

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A point that's perhaps made by recent "Viridis" events... or at least I suspect the underlying point of recent events there

 

 

Can't speak for Jon, but I suspect/assume the hydro crops were easier to manage and certainly more profitable than a small amount of fish and all that entails....

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To expand on the above comments:

 

Recently, a client of mine had $1million to spend and wanted to build an integrated aquaculture system.  Due to his market location and demand, I suggested he build a RAS fish farm, get his skills up on one discipline and run that until he is cash flow positive and had developed his fish sales market.  In about 2 years, he can consider if he wants to add the hydroponic subsystem.  He may find, due his location, the fish sales is profitable enough and not spend anymore on a hydro expansion and make his living by fish farming alone.

 

Another had 100k to spend and due to his market, I suggested his start up with a hydro system and venture into the veggie market.  If that works out for him and he has the available capital he can tack on an aquaculture system and run with that.  His location made fish farming somewhat difficult with low value fish on the market, poor logistics and access to what is needed to  farm fish in a RAS system.

 

Ultimately, in the minds of many of the smarter investors, their mind is on returns, not how warm and fluffy they can be with the eco science.  An integrated system does not always make sense financially and there is no point in doing it the dollars don't add up regardless of the hype.  It is always easier, and simpler to manage one discipline and market and get that right.

 

For example, not quite related.  A local "organic" farm here is running the gauntlet with the organic produce scene and it is quite a strong business.  They have their own farm, CSA boxes and some corporate clients.  Everyone is excited about the organic produce they sell. While I commend them for their efforts in an arid climate, I condemn them for their excessive water use.

 

Part of the organic standard is the farmer uses local resources that does no long term damage to the local ecology.  Watering sand with 6 times the total water I use to produce the same amount of produce, does not add up to an organic farm.  The public don't care about what the cost is to be organic, as long as it has an organic label.  The producer explained to me "it is not like we are wasting the water, when we bring it up (high salt content water) and irrigate the surface, it goes back down to the water table and we use it again".....  I can see they are expecting to live for a few hundred years.....

When I responded with, "the water table on this farm and in this area was 10 meters under the surface, now it is 400 meters down 20 years later, effectively there is no water."  The local farmers used to flood and drain large paddocks (large scale flood and drain) until they ran out of water and the Gov. shut down farming in the area completely unless they are using a recapture method of water use such as hydro....

Yet, the certifying body here is trying to stop me from organic certification because I "grow on water" when in fact my irrigation system is under the plants to prevent the 18 liters per day per m2 evaporation....  

 

Just another way of approaching it with a little rant....

 

 

Yep, I can completely relate with everything you wrote there Mr. Van der Werf.

 

In my area, about 30 years ago, the local agriculture had less than a hundred irrigation wells, each pumping anywhere from 900~1500 gpm (per minute that is) at around 375~450 feet for ground water. These farmers used row water, or trench flood, field irrigation and there would be quite large ponds (small lakes) where the drainage would end up depositing. All the farmers were like, "oh, no worries. the water is just going to return to regenerate the aquifer." Now, 30 years later, there are a few hundred irrigation wells and each well only pumps around 120~400 gpm and drilling around 500~800 feet for ground water. Talk about a huge drop. Talk about very expensive water to pump when going that deep and then only getting around 120~400gpm. 120~400gpm is barely manageable for high yield irrigated crops. If the water drops much further, then here is another 30 years or so we are going to be forced to resort to irrigating "dryland" low yield classified crops, which would be a huge drop in the standard of living for Farmers. I think the old farmers only got away with it since the returns on their crop suggested the water waste was considered to be "manageable" since "it all is just going to regenerate the aquifer anyways."

 

Fortunately, a group of honorable Farmers finally got enough clout finally so to become organized and enforce much better irrigation and farming practices. I just wish they were allowed this clout, mostly granted from government, back a few decades earlier. Heck, politicians at the time remained so blind that they did not even recognize the concerns of farmers during the Dust Bowl until the dirt got pushed into the stratosphere and brought the dirt to the politican's "front door".

 

My area's water problems was caused due to stubborn, hard headed, and pious folk stuck in their ways preventing them from being good stewards of their resources. I am seeing the politics behind the organic industry acting the same as well due to their pious notions of what is deemed as "safe" or "healthy".

 

I have always viewed being a Farmer involved, not only selling crops to market, to be a resource conservationalist, a person that works alongside Nature without any political influences, so to create cheap and healthy food to feed folk. The ignorance and fear of GMO crops is quite astounding due to all of the exaggerated dramatized talk of "super" insects/weeds, human affects, and other concerns driven from particular political influences. Farmers should not be allowing politics into their job and should not be implementing practices that demonstrates poor conservation (even if they are deemed as "organic") and should not be influenced by political influences who want to reduce the supply of good, healthy food.

 

 

Fortunately, farming practices have significantly improved now with better low evaporative sprinkler irrigation (although still wastes too much), better land stewards and better soil conversation tillage practices, and better plant genetics.

 

I have always viewed a Farmer as someone that is more than just a person growing carrots so to be sold at a local market.

 

Quite sad how the organic industry has lead many of these distortions since it has now become more driven by pious politics rather than driven by honorable Farmers and I commend those organic Farmers who do not fall into the pious influences of the organic industry.

 

 

Mr. Van der Werf, you should not be receiving all this flack from those pious, political driven certifying bodies to obtain organic certification and I commend you for your perseverance.

Edited by crsublette (see edit history)

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I will give it a stab in the dark. The first chart looks like your PH is too low and conductivity too high. 

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I will give it a stab in the dark. The first chart looks like your PH is too low and conductivity too high. 

 

The pH is not accurate and the actual EC on site is much higher.  Yet everything is growing just fine.

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