Mark McMurtry

What's for dinner, Mom? Not that fish poop salad again, is it?

18 posts in this topic


At indubitable risk of ridicule, 'reputation' (alleged), and subjection to virtual-tsunamis of unrestrained laughter, offered for your viewing delight tonight:

 

 


 

 

"Ninety percent of the time things turn out worse than you thought they would. The other ten percent of the time you had no right to expect that much." Augustine

 

"As an adolescent I aspired to lasting fame, I craved factual certainty, and I thirsted for a meaningful vision of human life - so I became a scientist.  This is like becoming an archbishop so you can meet girls."  M. Cartmill

 

 


I also chose to point out that iAVs is economically dominated (denominated, you might say) by the horticultural product value(s) achieved (yield x price).  Tilapia production valuations (under reasonable/prevailing market conditions in US) represent a minor fraction (4-6%) of the total economic return (potential), virtually regardless of fish yield rate realized (within 'reason').  For example, at median expected yield rates and product ratio, increasing or decreasing either the fish yield or the price attained or any combination of these factors in the aquaculture component by plus 10%, or minus 10% changes the composite gross margin and IRR by +/-1% or less (similar sign).  Whereas, 'adjusting' tomato yield  (or other crop(s)) and/or the unit value(s) realized by plus 10% could have a plus 15 to 20% impact (change, aka delta) on the bottom-line. Decreasing fruit yield and/or price received by 10% results in a negative 20 to potentially negative 30% effect (delta) on margin/return.  Therefore, it is my unwavering conviction that ALL potential profitability (commercial success) 'lays' almost exclusively in the horticultural aspect - in 'pure' economic terms.  From my remote observation post, I detect an overwhelming interest/efforts devoted to maximal aquatic productivity and in addressing the dominant factors thereof, with relatively little consideration given to optimal plant performance parameters (environmental, cultivar and cultivation/management techniques).  But, undoubtedly I'll be informed as to just  how wrong I am (again, nay still).  IMO, tilapia marketed in the US would almost (but not quite) be a loss-leader. I've even considered (and still do) giving the fish production to charities that feed the destitute and needy rather than absorb the processing, distribution, and marketing costs aka hassle of timely made sales.  OTOH, at significant (efficient) scales, this would likely soon overwhelm any would-be charitable organisation (w/ possible exception for Catholic Relief (CRS) on Friday).   In my asinine, heretical opinion, it is (or would be) a mistake to primarily focus on aquatic production intensity, especially in advance of and/or constraints on optimization for the horticultural production factors.


 

 

"What you risk reveals what you value."  - Jeanette Winterson 

 

"And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom." -  Anais Nin

vkn, shaffar and Ravnis like this

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Mods: Please delete duplicate post.  Actually it got posted before I was done, yet I've likely already blurted too much.

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Golly gee wiz - so I've done gone and unsettled someone's delicate sensibilities,  How uncouth of me.

 

Anyone who 'thinks' that that phase is "disgusting" certainly doesn't know me - nor want to - so don't. 
I assure you, I can do far worse. In fact, exercising verbal restraint (such as now) is about all the exercise I manage to get these daze
Since you couldn't bother yourself to respond substantively to the content provided - in gratitude or otherwise - the title stands.
Someone please slap me before I project rainbow stew all over this keyboard.
 
BTW, the expiration date on this canned creamy crapola is rapidly approaching.
 
swirl swirl swish swish glug glug
Edited by Mark McMurtry (see edit history)

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Compared to the stuff I work with daily this is nothing, but ok. 

 

I have to admit I'm not sure the title does justice to the value of the post.  It again raises the issue that occurs/has occurred that fish production is minor in comparison to the plant growth. 

 

2.2 $ per Kg fish is that gross value or profit ?   I've had no formal education in business, so this is a little above my head.

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Yeah, it's nothing,  Just a table of a range of potentials.  OTOH, I don't happen to feel that the 20+ years of effort/thought/detail backstopping such a crude synopsis is at all trivial.  But that's 'just' me.
My intent was to represent a range of potential yields and market values and then the effect influence they have on margins and returns - that's it.  
The hundreds of specific variables and data sets 'used' (gleaned, employed) to derive this particular table are not gratis public information.
 
The prices indicated (examples only) are delivered price paid by the wholesale buyer to the producer.  
In the case of an operation that processes its own production for the fresh-filet market, LW value is merely a baseline, which is then divided by yield rate plus the addition of direct processing and other costs,
e.g.  $2.2/kg = $1/lb. /  at 35% yield = $2.86/lb /   +25-30% direct costs (equip, elect, labor, OH) = $3.50 to $3.75/lb wholesale, plus delivery (if any).  
Then add 30-40% retail mark-up > $4.55 to $5.25 lb  
 
I am NOT implying that I intend to sell Tilapia for $1/lb.  I used $2.2/kg LW as the low example.  OTOH, in many places around the world, that would be considered as cost prohibitive.
If someone was interest in live tilapia for personal consumption and they couldn't afford retail fillet, I probably just give them some - to a point  (but that's me, not business)
OTOH, if LW is based on $3.3/kg  ($1.50/lb) then wholesale fresh fillet becomes (approx) $5.60 and retail $7.29 to $7.89/lb, which IMO seems high for tilapia in US markets
 
BTW, I've no idea what anyone is paying for feed (assuming they purchase it). In 1987, the 'modified' 32% 5140 (vitamin and mineral supplements withheld at my request) cost me $0.091/lb delivered.
Had a 'quote' about 2 years back from local vendor of around $0.50/lb delivered here (pallet-lot minimum, ?1000 lb?), more for a custom chow unless in significant quantity (container lots).
Obviously, feed is going up, the US$ is tanking (on purpose), and prices will forever continue in increase IMO. Especially so for human foods, IMO.
As will everything else.  All valuations shown in that table (and derivation value)) are expressed in 2012 dollars.  Adjust as appropriate to prevailing rates and/or local conditions
shaffar, Dave Keck and vkn like this

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I'm not naive enough to suggest that I or anyone else could ever sell their entire harvest at USDA No1 prices either
 
1) some further detail - not that anyone asked or 'cares'

Above yield distribution and valuation calculated as 60% fruits USDA grade No 1 @ 100% unit price, 30% as grade No. 2 @ 70% unit price,  and 10% cull @ 10% unit price stated.  

- The $5/kg rate is approx 95% of the mean wholesale purchase price at Fulton Market (Atlanta) in summer 2012 for "Certified Organic" (source: Mexico) 6x6 vine-ripened tomato.

- Also, NOT including any of multiple potential inter-crops, including: 
achenes, aggregate fruits, cole spp., culinary herbs, leaf crops, legumes, medicinal herbs - even cut flowers, bedding plants and transplants in season. 
 
- Target Tilapia (harvest) LW = 1 kg or above.  Tilapia fillet yield @ 35% LW (de-boned, skin removed, w/o throat, iced, fresh daily)
 
- With 'competitive' US labor rates with benefits and admin. overhead applied  - aka, above minimum wage.
 
Devt. costs Included:  land, site devt, utilities, AE/PE/legal/licensing fees, construction mgmt,  'keyman' and GM resourcing and training.
state-of-art 8m hort-glass venlo GH with 'total' computer-regulated environmental management, comprehensive sanitary/vector controls, aggressive IPM, 
brood, hatchery and fingerling generation, filleting/icing, and fish 'waste' handling, fishmeal processing, 
all veg. post harvest processing, packaging, storage, and distribution (e.g. refrigerated trucks), 
rain water catchment, cistern(s), filtering and sterilization (deep well back-up)
USDA inspection office, OSHA approved facility, 24 hr manned security,
employee lockers, break/lunch room, hydration stations, potential daycare/after-school supervision(?), paramedic/aid-clinic,  ETC.
 
w/o solar PV, geothermal or NG tri-gen plant, or feed mill (budgeted currently), or value-added processing/products.
 
Total facility size (initial):  approximate area of the average Walmart Super Center (4.25 acres),  without the parking lots
Product value from productive area,  range $250 to $350 m-2 yr-1 in 'Organic" wholesale market channel (2012) - without intercrops
 
Potential annual expansion rate of 40 to 50% - or more-  by area and volume (100% market driven)
 
 
2) RANT (because I can):   WRT the viability of iAVs in economic terms, numerous respected agricultural and aquacultural economists scrutinized my/our efforts - evaluated the results (at my/our 'request') - with consistently favorable assessments relative to typical commercial GH operations in NC (and elsewhere at that time).  As also did  perhaps a hundred well-informed/experienced/respected 'experts' in several dozen agricultural and life-sciences disciplines.  This is a VERY long list, both of 'senior' individuals and respected institutions.  No one who 'looked' (with eyes to see) ever suggested that I was in a loosing battle or waging a war that couldn't be won.  Too the contrary. And I also know for a fact that NO one gave me a break, or a pass, or a wink and a nod either, 'because' I may have had connections (not), money (not),  sexy (not), personable (not) or cordial (not), ad nauseum.   IAVS was inspected, evaluated, scrutinized as if it was a previously unknown work of art potentially attributable to a Monet, Rembrandt or Da Vinci.. It passed/survived all scrutiny (including smell tests) with flying colors and to consistently rave reviews.  Despite established authenticity and bone-fide provenance, iAVs does not hang in the Louvre nor in any national or even private gallery today - nor buried in a corporate vault of secrets (you can thank me later).  It's apparently (obviously) gone missing (hijacked, perverted, or stolen, if one prefers), with sporadic reports surfacing with increasingly predictable regularity, of having been re-discovered (or recreated) in a dump, trash-heap somewhere (anywhere) and in backyards and/or retail outlets near you a several thousand times over..  The genuine article has not, as yet, been rediscovered.  Meanwhile, and all across the globe, barely recognizable forgeries hang in self-portrait galleries (shrines) of vapid delusion in vast profusion, ntm mutated in cyberspace marinade.
 
I may be 'nuttier than a squirrel turd', but I can still recognize a pecan pie cooling on an open window-sill with great certainty.
 
'Tis better to be silent and be thought a fool, than to speak and remove all doubt."  Abraham Lincoln (1809 - 1865) (attributed)     Never stopped me before
 
 
 
 
 
shaffar and vkn like this

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Oops, I should have been more clear, why I hate talking on the phone or internet.  When I said this is nothing , It was regarding the title of the thread and subsequent concern about verbiage and not related at all to the post. Sorry if I raised your blood pressure.

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not a problems - even tho I did not make the connection you apparently intended.  -


still "nothing" in the bigger scheme of iAVs prognostication ntm compared to unbounded militant ignorance playing out as world events in surreal time


and as far as my BP is involved, it gets spiked far more often and significantly by real world trials and physical impingements than anything a forum post could transmit.


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I first looked into RAS systems to grow tilapia for sale to haulers. At that time (2009), the farm gate price for live tilapia (1 to 1.5 lbs each) was USD $1.42/lb. I looked at both clear water and green water systems and came to the unwanted realization that the U.S. market would not support (profitably) local live tilapia farming. I then looked into selling fresh and frozen tilapia fillets. The wholesale price was higher, but the additional operating costs and capital investment made this route unprofitable as well, especially since I would be competing with low cost imported fillets from China, Vietnam and some South American countries (Honduras).

 

Based upon my findings in the Aquaculture arena, I looked at tilapia in an Aquaponics System simply as a source of natural, organic nutrients for the plants and for personal consumption once they reached a sufficient size/weight. Like Mark, I am considering donating the excess weight to charitable organizations -- at least the tax write-off can offset some portion of the cost of growing-out the fish. I’m also thinking about offering the excess fish live as a direct farm-to-consumer product (especially to ethnic markets).

 

It has been my contention, since going through the above gymnastics, that the commercial viability of an AP operation is dependent upon the organic produce side of the system, not the fish. IMHO, this is why AP necessitates lower fish densities sufficient to balance the plant nutrient requirements only. This is also why I joined “Aquaponics Nation†convinced that the flood and drain media bed systems would be the way to go for crops like tomatoes, cucumbers, egg plant, etc. with limited DWC, vertical grow systems (strawberries) and, potentially, Dutch Buckets (for heavier, primarily fruit, crops).

 

Now, again thanks to Mark's posts, I am very interested in sand media for the ease of maintenance and the significantly higher biofilter capacity that its increased surface area brings to the party – meaning potential for greater plant density. Incidentally, I was never a fan of the 3/4 inch gravel media.

 

The feature that makes DWC appealing to me is the productivity derived from continually starting and harvesting staggered crops (lettuces, herbs, etc.) thus reducing associated labor costs. What I don’t like is the need for solids filters and artificial biofilters (maybe even degassers). I’m hoping that with sand media I can eliminate these requirements and pass nitrate rich water from the sand beds to the DWC (raft) system and the other growing systems previously mentioned.

 

Does the above make sense or am I hallucinating rainbows in the midst of a desert?

Edited by SteveShaffar (see edit history)

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Makes sense to me. If sand really does negate the need for additional filtration then sign me up. My problem, living here in Hawaii is that there is no quartz sand. But there is green and black sand derived from lava. But I happen to live on one of the Islands that has no lava sand. So for me the quartz or granite sand would need to be imported and that would make it expensive. Heavy sigh. So I leave the experimentation to others and await their results.

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Can you put up a link to the best explanation of iAVs.  Kind of new to the form and am intrigued with the opinion.  

 

Rob C

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Hi Rob,

 

Mark has been kind enough to post many pages relating to this...I don't have the time to search through the forum ATM ...Maybe someone else can...Or, if you use the search facility I'm sure you will find many pages of valuable information to keep you busy for a while......Try searching for a topic like Sand beds or the like...

 

Cheers.

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