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PostPosted: Aug 30th, '15, 14:31 
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HI all,

1st up - I have no system yet, but try to absorb all I can from this forum since quite a while now.
I hope to be close to start building my first test and trial system soon, but frankly I am in no hurry - sooo much to learn!
My system plans are still changing on a regular basis...

I"ll be happy to just get a home-system running and producing a load of good stuff for family consumption only - however the plan (....or better "dream") is, to develop a commercial system for retirement. So the home-system will be rather detailed and elaborate as I want to try out ALL and everything that comes to mind - specifically with commercial production in mind.

So - how do I see the commercial possibilities?

a] Besides being a home-system for fun - I also see my home system as a investment for the commercial start-up, a investment that I am willing to write off, should my market study turn out negative.
(....I am mechanical/technical person and have yet to succeed to raise anything in the backyard - dirt or water or rock based.....)

b] So - assuming I get past point a (.....and be able to put a head of lettuce and tomatoes on the table every day....) - next step will be a detailed market study.
I would call it an "active" study - using produce from the home system to demonstrate/sample my initial market targets....if they like my product and are willing to spend the dime on it - then I start on the commercial unit.

What I feel/understand from this thread is, that Damian tries to find confirmation for what he "wishes to be true" - though I feel, much is wishful thinking.

e.g. It seems Damian would prefer FISH to be the primary product.
If I am not totally mistaken - it takes a LOT of greenery to support a decent (commercial) amount of fish.
Generally I understand fish is basically a TOOL not a product in general aquaponics.
True - from a certain size on, one should be able to market fish too, but then it still will be a small by-sell in relation to the plant production.

Now - how big is the "gap/black hole/chasm"?
I would say - "depends"....on a LOT of variables - you won't be able to come up with a 1-fits-all formula...

country, climate, taxes, wages, regs, market

No doubt - Ryan is in a prime spot - okay climate and - for all purposes - a limitless market, BUT what about wages? If his personnel requirements rise to fast, he might get in trouble!

In my corner - minimum wage is still rather low.
Then - I have NO idea (yet) if there even IS a market for high price product?
[Certainly there are clients willing to pay - but is the number of clients above the critical value?
If I need a 100 customers to become profitable but I only can muster 38 - .....not going to work!]

Barbados has only 1/10 the population of the country I live in - how many are potential clients?

There is numbers floating around of 1000m2, gap, 8000 m2, ??

Does that mean, if you cannot go minimum to 8000 you won't make it because you are in the gap?

If you cannot sell 8000, then your gap just got too big?

WHAT defines the size of the gap??

(Too many variables to have one fixed size...)
I am sure the gap in the US is a different size than in Oz or Panama or Barbados....or UK :wave:

So maybe - you cannot afford to do just one or 2 products - if you need a certain size to be profitable, but you have a limited market size - well, then you need to come up with more products!


If you are not in favor of veggies as your primary product - you want fish, which means your "Filter plants" need to be a rather huge area, WHAT do you want to plant (now the plants become the TOOL)?

Would you be allowed to raise cattle on Barbados? HOW many head could you sell at the most?
Would that be enough to need enough GREEN FORAGE to use that as your plant tool?

You see, Damian - this discussion is to a great part philosophical at best.....

You won't get around to develop a basic business plan, SPECIFIC for your case.

Now if you ask the forum for their input for your specific case - you might get some REAL advice!

However - once you decide to pull through on a commercial level, you would be very well advised to HAVE DONE your homework - either take others experience as a given or TEST your ideas before you spend the money for the commercial unit!

[E.g. in my AP-inexperienced mind I envision to run my system without a dedicated air supply. Use venturi, splash and flood/drain for aeration. Air would be for FT-emergency only. Can I pull this off?
My home system will be the test facility.
- which also means, that I WILL have to install a system air-supply, just so that I can test MY alternative! Obviously it works without air too, but certainly not as well as with air - what I want to test is, can I get to the same quality level with my non-air ideas? Need to test things in parallel to have comparable data......
Ryan is showing ONE very efficient way how it can be done.
I have another idea how to get there - testing will be done in my home system]

However, no matter how much you are convinced of your idea - when you tested out that it is NOT working, you need to have the guts to quit and go with what is proven.

[E.g. your idea for the 20 ft RFF is out of this world! ...just the size makes handling anything on it quite useless - just because this is the most common well design on your island, doesn't make it the best design for a RFF!! Just looking at the basic RFF white paper everyone here knows, taking the measurements/working principle/maintenance requirements - you are WAY better off using blue barrels and make your own RFF!
You need more dwell time? - ...build another one and plumb it parallel!
Need more? - ...build another one!
Plumb 10 parallel if you must and you are still better of than with ONE of your 20 ft monster...cheaper is not always more economical/efficient...]

Or - maybe AP is NOT for you after all?!! YOU want fish - go Aquaculture and use mechanical/bio filters!
(...if you like your own salad, take of a little water from the system and do your home/private AP).....

As far as I see it - IF you want FISH at a profitable scale, the plant side of the AP system is SERIOUSLY big!
Maybe you can build an AP-Botanic Garden for Barbados - ...should be big enough to get you into the black zone with the fish!


Cheers,

thjakits :think:

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PostPosted: Aug 30th, '15, 15:02 
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thjakits wrote:
I am sure the gap in the US is a different size than in Oz or Panama or Barbados....or UK :wave:

Even within a country there are going to be some very big differences. From everything to what your market wants but also what it can supply in terms of labour, materials and technology.

When I was approached to be involved in a project on King island I had to seriously re think the system design approach because almost everything had to be brought in and taken out by ship. Similarly there was Outback Ozzies system where he was in the middle of a desert yet he could have made money producing fish and veg locally at a very nice premium price. At the same time he was a long way from anywhere.

Quote:
Would you be allowed to raise cattle on Barbados? HOW many head could you sell at the most?
Would that be enough to need enough GREEN FORAGE to use that as your plant tool?

Its possible but the capital expense of the system wouldn't make it worth while unless you could get a seriously high price for your beef. Believe me though I've thought about it.



Quote:
[E.g. your idea for the 20 ft RFF is out of this world! ...just the size makes handling anything on it quite useless - just because this is the most common well design on your island, doesn't make it the best design for a RFF!! Just looking at the basic RFF white paper everyone here knows, taking the measurements/working principle/maintenance requirements - you are WAY better off using blue barrels and make your own RFF!
You need more dwell time? - ...build another one and plumb it parallel!
Need more? - ...build another one!
Plumb 10 parallel if you must and you are still better of than with ONE of your 20 ft monster...cheaper is not always more economical/efficient...]

What he said x 10.

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PostPosted: Aug 30th, '15, 16:07 
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Hi Stuart
Our tomato market is sophisticated and very diverse. £1/Kg would be a fair average. At our local market, by the case £0.5. Organic on the vine £2/Kg

Hi thjakits
Don’t write off the value of fish. You do possibly however have to do some lateral thinking. Premium trout retails here for £12/Kg. discounted down to £3/Kg in some supermarkets. One AP producer however achieves £17/Kg How? He feeds the trout organic food containing no, carotene, The mature trout has white flesh. That, same producer also adds value. Trout pate at £70/Kg.
European Perch retails in Switzerland for 80 Euro/Kg. One RAS facility in Eire produces 50T/annum. They could sell all their production in one week.
Green lettuce here is cheap. Red such as Lola Rosso sells at a slight premium. Why grow green?

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PostPosted: Aug 30th, '15, 20:15 
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You see, Damian - this discussion is to a great part philosophical at best.....

That is what i am looking for a good read for those that want to make some money, to get the mind ticking. I find it best to run ideas by others before starting colletively you can find soloutions. the only problem i have is developed vs. developing culture/mindset way different approches. by the way I have found a way to get the job(s) done without the 20foot deep RFF. all exsept stabiliseing temperture (working on that). generaly over time i have found different perspectives of a problem helps alot in design.


Ryan can you give a extimate of how your labour is broken down? eg.phisical hours/marketing hours a week?


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PostPosted: Aug 30th, '15, 20:50 
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Back tracking a bit. Get the "40 hour work week" out of your head if you're starting a business. I've started 3-4 over the years, and generally it takes 1/2 days plus for at least 2-3 years. A half day for me is 6 AM to 6 PM. :wave1:

Every single successful business owner who has started from scratch has routine 60-70 hour work weeks.

Agriculture/farming in general is a sun-up to sun down proposition in all arenas. You won't find any short days or easy weeks in this field. Ryan's business model works because of several factors: His knowledge and experience, his location/market, but first and foremost his WORK ETHIC. I can guarantee you he doesn't keep track, but if pressed, will have stories of 18 hour plus days, weeks without a day off, and staying up late doing paper work, market studies, etc.


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PostPosted: Aug 30th, '15, 21:00 
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Ah! :oops: :oops: My mistake. Just went to the supermarket and this time put my glasses on. Pre packed organic, on the vine cherry tomatoes £8.5/Kg Not something I normally buy.

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PostPosted: Aug 30th, '15, 21:04 
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Titus, help me with conversion $6.00 a lb? That's what I was getting for my toms last year. I'm raising prices this year.


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PostPosted: Aug 31st, '15, 00:44 
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Hi Chris
Glad to. It’s complicated. My son’s villa in southern Spain is surrounded by tomato farms. Grown commercially in soil under plastic/shade cloth.
They taste great. So that is my standard. My bench mark if you like.
Nothing in England approaches that taste. How could it? So I choose not to pay a premium for organic.
Now in my local mid range supermarket as I said. Pre packed organic on the vine cherry toms £8.5/Kg = 13.08$/Kg 1Kg = 2.2 lbs so 13.08 * 2.2 = $28/Lb
At my local high end supermarket possibly more. Beyond that you have what we call, Heritage tomatoes. Marketing speak for a 30% price increase.
However when you think what Ryan is achieving with increased sugar content worth every penny. That dedication and attention to detail always attracts a premium.
On the other hand I can buy a 3Kg case at the local weekly market for a couple of £ (Quid)
Hand Up. I am a cheap skate. I shop at the market.
You know having written that I suddenly thought most of our pre packed supermarket veg is injected with Nitrogen. gives a longer shelf life. Once opened goes off rapidly. Market produce lasts longer.
I understand that you cannot use the label organic. I heard a phrase you may not have come across, Sprayfree!

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PostPosted: Aug 31st, '15, 04:48 
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I believe that would be $6.50/lb .....

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PostPosted: Aug 31st, '15, 04:56 
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I am certainly NOT discarding the fish! In my area the simplest one would be Tilapia and I DO believe that I even could command a premium for AP-quality fish.
However - IF I am not totally mistaken - the amount of fish needed relative to the possible plant production will be just a very small % of the overall sales (even if you have high fish price).
Up to a certain critical amount of fish, it might even not be worth the added requirements for selling the fish commercially. Obviously once you expand beyond that point OF COURSE you also sell the fish, but that is already a seriously big system - wild guess 5000 head of lettuce a week??

Ryan - it seems you are not bothering with food fish - are you selling the Koi too, or do you just like the colors while they work for you? :mrgreen:


thjakits 8)

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PostPosted: Aug 31st, '15, 05:22 
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Ryan uses a premium fish food, and sells his Koi. They are from Blackwater Koi, a premium koi producer with their original breeding stock from Japanese koi. I bought some and will be taking delivery as soon as he can find time to swing by my place.


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PostPosted: Aug 31st, '15, 05:31 
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Here we go!
AP ornamental fish!!

thjakits


PS: Maybe I start with Goldfish first!

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PostPosted: Aug 31st, '15, 06:00 
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Blackwater sell fish for 1000's of dollars. There is a market for premium fish, as well as pond grade fish. I install and maintain some garden ponds, so a natural tie in for me.


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PostPosted: Aug 31st, '15, 07:38 
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Damian- depends what phase of buisness I'm in and what crops I'm growing. It's about 90/10 labor/marketing when established.


Thjakits- I also sell tilapia as a food fish. I don't like putting all my eggs in one basket :)

I also have goldfish but I have big 10+" show Golds, comets and doubletails (forget the name right now)that I move at $50ea. Goldfish are a great market because like you said... Lots of people like to start off with them before moving on to Koi. You can also trick them into breeding all year round if you start really getting a market for them.

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PostPosted: Aug 31st, '15, 07:58 
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Do you cook the meals, ryan? Id like to try a Tilapia one day..

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