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PostPosted: Apr 10th, '16, 21:33 
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Alright folks, I introduced myself here before and perused this site a good bit and am coming out with a quite serious question/discussion. So, (as you know) my name is Chris and I am a 27 year old 'Mercan who was been travelling abroad for about 3 years now. I have been working in aquaponics (hands on) since 2011 and have became a self-proclaimed expert on urban agriculture. I have a bit of a fancy in hydroponics and aeroponics as well, but have really kept my heart in aquaponics ever since I first saw the system and put a very poor model together using spare parts to start seeds. Now, i am living in Iceland and am ending my second semester in my Masters program for environment and natural resource mgmt with my focus in... yup... urban agriculture. And for this thesis I am working in... yeaaaah... aquaponics.

The first semester was a little rough getting me feet off the ground, pushing hard to get my finger on the local "pulse" and assessing potential and community dynamics, but I can say that I am finally getting some momentum. I have a thesis adviser who works professionally in aquaponic development and we are getting a sweet plan together to do a lot next semester. Well, I will be doing a bit of travelling June-August, and when I get back we will be doing some set ups (potentially up to 16 tanks!), but I am getting ahead of myself. What I will be doing in the meantime/have done so far is a local food identification map. So I rummaged through statistic databases on food production, energy costs, import and export cycles and all kinda of cool info on consumer habits and made a neat little chart and graphs and Excel sheets showing the habits. From there, what we are doing is taking all that produce and making a viability assessment of what can be made in greenhouses, what is already produced locally, and what is in high demand but can't be made (without greenhouses) for farmers. Using that we will determine (4) products that aquaponics can facilitate and use that to start showing how efficient and awesome AP systems are and able to help fulfill niches in the current market using the aforementioned systems.

We are still debating on the niceties of this operation, but hopefully (space provided) we will be using (4) products in (4) different setups with tilapia as the fish in all four systems. In other words we will have four NFT systems, four raft systems, etc. etc. Once more, this is still emerging as we speak and I can barely contain my excitement! That said, I just really wanted to talk to ya'll about this. I would love to get more communities involved, more people engaging and always looking for collaboration, pooling ideas, sharing resources and increasing exposure and awareness. If you guys have any questions, resources, suggestions, (sponsors or funding opportunities that I am too shy to ask for), or anything else under the sun, I would be so happy to chat together about this. I really am trying to build a community and help provide models for more sustainable lifestyles and alternative paradigms to food production that can facilitate niches and help alongside conventional agriculture.

Let me know what you think and DEFINITELY let me know if I can help you in any way! Hopefully I will catch you all soon. ;)


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PostPosted: Apr 11th, '16, 10:16 
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ScurvyDog,

Sounds like an interesting plan! So you've got 4 food items identified (like radishes, carrots, lettuce, and potatoes) then you'll be testing to see which of the common AP methods work best for each of the food items? So given the above food items, you'd be doing 1 DWC system for radishes, 1 DWC system for carrots, 1 DWC system for lettuce, and 1 DWC system for potatoes? And then 1 NFT system for radishes, 1 NFT system for carrots, 1 NFT system for lettuce, and 1 NFT system for potatoes? Etc. (I know those food items might not all lend themselves well for a particular method.)

Will you be testing for advantages of 1 type of filtering system versus another? Or advantages of different water characteristics (e.g. 1 pH vs another?)
Please tell us more! :headbang:

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PostPosted: Apr 11th, '16, 20:35 
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That is going to be awesome. Good luck

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PostPosted: Apr 11th, '16, 21:53 
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nosliwmas wrote:
ScurvyDog,

Sounds like an interesting plan! So you've got 4 food items identified (like radishes, carrots, lettuce, and potatoes) then you'll be testing to see which of the common AP methods work best for each of the food items? So given the above food items, you'd be doing 1 DWC system for radishes, 1 DWC system for carrots, 1 DWC system for lettuce, and 1 DWC system for potatoes? And then 1 NFT system for radishes, 1 NFT system for carrots, 1 NFT system for lettuce, and 1 NFT system for potatoes? Etc. (I know those food items might not all lend themselves well for a particular method.)

Will you be testing for advantages of 1 type of filtering system versus another? Or advantages of different water characteristics (e.g. 1 pH vs another?)
Please tell us more! :headbang:

--
Sam



@Sam, thank you for your interest! The setup you provided is exactly how we want to do it. I am desperate for strawberries, but it may not be viable in the time to make a good product. I am pretty set on microgreens for sure and would love to do some romanesca (spiral broccoli), but I have to do the evaluation to figure it out. I think lettuce is always good, but that market is pretty saturated and we want to satisfy niches not available otherwise. I will have to do some heavy multi decision analysis to figure this bad boy out, haha.

As for the system boundaries and keeping a control group- we are still ironing this out. I want to use the production statistics as a baseline and use other systems to act as a template for potential. The filtering systems will be used to show variance and growth/production, but I don't want to get too far ahead of myself. My initial proposal was to send the results to a lab to look at nutrient absorption rates and micronutrient properties but that was far too expensive. Basically, I have a huge habit of blowing up and have to remember that a focused good thesis is better than a wide, vague thesis. Thus, we will be keeping the pH as regulated as possible and all the external conditions the same. I was considering a sump tank for each of these as well with crawdads to pick up the gunk, but I have to see space and availability of resources. The next four months are going to be crucial for getting space together to get it all cycling and together.

As of now I am just doing a huge body of research (I have a few papers already put out on labeling practices, organic standards, etc) and some practicals such as a self watering bucket (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9t_xgCzOLms) to stir up interest. I also am doing freelance writing to provoke newcomers into the art and kinda merge the hobbyist and the scientific through community engagement and finding ways to reach out to other people that typically wouldn't be associated with AP in their careers. In other words, we can get engineers, horticulturists, enthusiasts and teachers involved; but how do we get graphic designers, doctors, business associates and vets piqued?

Please please please ask away! I am so happy to answer whatever I can.


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PostPosted: Apr 12th, '16, 04:09 
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Quote:
I will have to do some heavy multi decision analysis to figure this bad boy out, haha.

Jajaja... out in el campo we call that "sticking your finger up to check the wind." :laughing6:

So this is more of a feasibility study sort of thing like trying to come up with a profitable AP plan of action for the local Reykjavik market, right? Once you've got your niche identified, then you zero in on the best way for AP to be the solution for that niche. Will you start the study with preconceived notions about how which methods the pros have settled on for a given food item? For example, perhaps it is well known that potatoes do better in a wickbed system than they do NFT. It might be a given that lettuce, for example, does better in DWC and strawberries in NFT?

It would really be a service to have a validated database of food crop items and the best of several different methods for growing said food crop items. Not to spoil innovation and trying new things, but simply to provide a well-trodden path to those who prefer not to continually have to dance on the razor's edge of technology and experimentation. Recipes for success, if you wish. Pick your crop from a list of things that do well in your type of AP system and presto! the step-by-step proven method for success with that food crop item pops up. Follow it faithfully and reap the rewards...
Would you buy that for a dollar? :headbang:

To keep costs down, why not partner with those on the lab science side of things trying to do their studies and get another department at the U to perform the analysis of nutrient absorption?

Obviously you will be doing this in a heated greenhouse, but are you using artificial lighting as well? Why would timing be bad for strawberries?

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PostPosted: Apr 12th, '16, 04:37 
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nosliwmas wrote:
Quote:
I will have to do some heavy multi decision analysis to figure this bad boy out, haha.

Jajaja... out in el campo we call that "sticking your finger up to check the wind." :laughing6:

So this is more of a feasibility study sort of thing like trying to come up with a profitable AP plan of action for the local Reykjavik market, right?


I like that one. The ol' golfer's assurance, eh? and more or less, yes. Hopefully to be able to start replicating this in other markets. I feel that conventional agriculture has such a stronghold on crop production that alternative methodologies are boxed out.

nosliwmas wrote:
Quote:
Once you've got your niche identified, then you zero in on the best way for AP to be the solution for that niche. Will you start the study with preconceived notions about how which methods the pros have settled on for a given food item? For example, perhaps it is well known that potatoes do better in a wickbed system than they do NFT. It might be a given that lettuce, for example, does better in DWC and strawberries in NFT?


This is where it gets tricky. I have A LOT of data to trudge through and made a thousand graphs and heat maps and distribution blah blah blahs. because it will be 4 crops in 4 different systems, there will be a hella lotta comparisons to make. I am trying to avoid lettuces and potatoes because those are pretty well off here and strawberries take too long to have good, consistent results in time, but ya. It will be sing conventional agriculture as baseline + looking at te last three years of imports for that product + grow time in different beds. So for example, microgreens have a zero market now and that one will not have much to compare to, but is definitely a viable niche that would do much better in one system over another. But we may have another box with radishes that shows consistency, growth rates and how much it would offset imports by poducing it locally and the expenses curtailed through AP systems.

"It would really be a service to have a validated database of food crop items and the best of several different methods for growing said food crop items. Not to spoil innovation and trying new things, but simply to provide a well-trodden path to those who prefer not to continually have to dance on the razor's edge of technology and experimentation. Recipes for success, if you wish. Pick your crop from a list of things that do well in your type of AP system and presto! the step-by-step proven method for success with that food crop item pops up. Follow it faithfully and reap the rewards...
Would you buy that for a dollar? :headbang:"

There is a lot going on here with what I am *hoping* to achieve. One is to strengthen a local identity with food and build a communal narrative. There is some good research in how this works exceptionally well as rehab programs for reformed convicted criminals and addicts in inner cities. The other is tailoring to an "open menu" of sorts to local businesses, hospitals, markets and restaurants. Not to mention transparency, generating a local economy, more indicative labeling practices AND reliable sources. I am not so big on reinventing the wheel; I am much more concerned with lifestyle changes and reinforcing an ideology that promotes growth. There is a weird divide I have noticed between people that prefer automation and purists (as a spectrum) and I think that moving away from the philosophical or at least reconciling philosophies and opening up new methods for innovation and maintaining tried and true systems is a hard dance to follow, but it is the hope. I mean, I am open to side projects, helping others make systems at home and just about anything, really!

"To keep costs down, why not partner with those on the lab science side of things trying to do their studies and get another department at the U to perform the analysis of nutrient absorption?"

In discussion. Not sure how it will end up, but it will be interesting. Everybody everywhere has a hand in a pocket or something at stake. Takes a bit of time to figure out if it is viable or not, haha.
As per strawberries, we would use geothermal energy and heating is not a problem here. Still polling on the spaces, so can't answer that yet. I just don't trust strawberries well enough, as I have had mixed results and low yields before. I am in semester 1 and will start this in semester 2, so time will not be my companion. Maybe in the future or on the side. :D


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