Author: Claudia

Aquaponics in Mexico

By Claudia Andracki

The Aquaponics Association is always looking to expand our connections to aquaponics enthusiasts, whether in the U.S. or beyond. This time I had the opportunity to visit a facility located on the outskirts of Guadalajara, Jalisco. The company is called BoFish Aquaponics. You have seen the owner at our annual Conference and at some of the Aquaculture America conferences, his name is Carlos Leon.

While visiting my home town in Jalisco I took the opportunity to stop by and experience his farm. Carlos Leon is currently cultivating Tilapia and Shrimp in his facility and the water is used in floating rafts to grow a variety of lettuce, celery and a number of herbs. His facility is separated into two greenhouses. One holds his aquaculture and the other has the floating rafts.

We had a great conversation about marketing and promotion of the aquaponic products. Carlos finds that his products are easily sold but not recognizable in the market. He believes there is a need to help farmers  market their product and stand out from conventional farmers. He is also interested in making a closer connection between the Aquaponics Association and Latin America.

Carlos has a second location where he used to have his farm. He has two small systems that are used for demonstrations for patrons of the restaurant located on the premises. Carlos mentioned that the aquaponic systems are the attraction and having a restaurant on property is a convenience for the visitors. His mother is the one to manage the smaller systems on the restaurant property and he manages the bigger farm.

As I left Carlos extended an invitation to the Latin America Aquaponics Conference in October in Bogota, Colombia. We will keep you posted as the relationship between the Aquaponics Association and Latin America unfolds.

 

Claudia Andracki is a Board Member and the Treasurer of the Aquaponics Association. 

Speaker Spotlight: Arvind Venkat

 

Arvind Venkat is Waterfarmers Canada’s Scientific Director overseeing the company’s technology, product and execution platform. He has been a noteworthy leader in the commercial Aquaponic space. Under his vision Waterfarmers have developed over half million square feet of commercial farming and continue to expand their reach. He has spent the last 5 years creating resilient design and operating procedures for large commercial farms for different climate and market environments. His contributions to nutrient stewardship, environmentally responsible design and farmer profitability modelling have been recognized as viable business formulas by investors and policy makers alike. Arvind works very closely with Murray Hallam of Practical Aquaponics and their newest project in the works is a walkthrough guide platform for new farmers for the first 6 months of operations. 

An Engineering and Management graduate from Kettering University, Michigan, Arvind started his career as an engineer at Bosch USA and quickly worked his way up to the Executive offices at National Aluminum at the age of 22. Arvind holds to his credit an MBA from MIT and 4 years of post graduate research at University of Toronto in the field of Renewable Energy. Outside the office, Arvind is a percussionist actively performing at top classical art venues around the world.  

Speaker Spotlight: Jose-Luis Isurza

ABSTRACT

Freshwater prawns have a high market value, short harvest cycle, and high market demand. Under the assumption that the waste of prawns (Macrobrachium rosenbergii) does not produce enough nutrients to supply their vegetative counterparts Ocimum basilicum (Genovese Basil), the supposed nutrient deficiency was supplemented using worm castings mixed with water to create a vermicompost solution. This solution was added to the systems in the amounts of 1% and 3% based on the aquaponics system water volume. The observation and data collection on plant growth, prawn growth, and water quality were measured every two weeks, every week, and every day, respectively. After 5 weeks of observation, no significant difference in plant growth or prawn growth was observed in both treatments.

BIO 

Jose-Luis Izursa is a lecturer and advisor in the Environmental Science and Technology department at the University of Maryland. He completed a post-doctoral program with the University of Florida, focusing his research on quantifying energy balances of biofuel feedstock production systems and their effect on greenhouse gases production. Prior to that, Dr. Izursa was the Director of science and research at Fundación Natura Bolivia, where part of his work focused on climate smart agriculture and sustainable food production, designing and utilizing innovative social markets techniques as payment for ecosystem services. In cooperation with the Sustainability Science Program at Harvard University, he was engaged in developing social games to study local leadership and the voluntary provision of public goods in rural communities in Bolivia.

He also worked as a program coordinator for Conservation International and a consultant for the World Wildlife Fund in Washington DC.  He received his Ph.D. in Environmental Sciences; his M.Sc. in Sustainable Development and Conservation Biology from the University of Maryland; his M.Sc. in Higher Education from the University Amazónica of Pando and has won a number of honors and awards including the Fulbright and the Russell E. Train Education for Nature Fellowships.

Sign up today to see Jose-Luis Isurza at our Putting Up Shoots Conference.

Speaker Spotlight: Tom Zimmerman

 

Plankton provide about two-thirds of the Earth’s oxygen, are the largest sequester of carbon and the baby food to practically every species of fish. In aquaponics, plankton increase dissolved oxygen, stabilize water quality and reduce pathogenic microbes by consuming nutrients and bacteria in the water. However, it is possible to have too much of a good thing. Huge plankton blooms, typically caused by too much nitrates, consume dissolved oxygen when they decompose which can result in massive fish kills. The key to a healthy aquaponics system is balancing many factors including pH, temperature, dissolved oxygen, nitrates, phosphates, biological oxygen demand and turbidity. In our research, we are developing novel microscopes to monitor the distribution, shape and behavior of plankton and use this data to model and predict the health of an ecosystem. Our objective is to use plankton as an environmental sensor, like a smoke detector, to alert scientists of disturbances in the ecosystem before they become disasters. Aquaponic systems provide a small, contained and controlled ecosystem for us to train and test our microscopes, algorithms and models. Once trained, an AI microscope may be used to continuously monitor the health of an aquaponic system.

 

 

Bio

Tom Zimmerman is a Research Staff Member and Master Inventor in the Cellular Engineering group of IBM’s Research Division. His 60 patents cover position tracking, user input devices, wireless communication, image and audio signal processing, biometrics and microscopy. His Data Glove invention established the field of Virtual Reality, selling over one million units.  His electric field Personal Area Network (PAN) invention sends data through the human body, exchanging electronic business cards with a handshake, and prevents air bags from injuring children in cars. His wireless sea turtle monitoring system predicts hatching and is installed in the US and Costa Rica. He received his B.S. in Humanities and Engineering and M.S. in Media Science from MIT.

Tom Zimmerman will be at this year’s Putting Up Shoots Conference 

Speaker Spotlight: Hendrik Monsees

Aquaponics is a promising approach for a sustainable intensification of food production and the number of commercial systems is increasing in Europe, the US and worldwide. Nevertheless, balancing nutrient concentrations and establishing optimal growth conditions for fish and plants is challenging, especially with demanding crops (e.g. tomatoes). In classical aquaponic systems hydroponic units are integrated in the water cycle of an aquaculture system. This can result in suboptimal growth conditions (e.g. pH). Decoupled aquaponic systems were developed to address these obstacles by separating the two production cycles. Aquaculture and hydroponic units are connected via a one-way valve and water is only transferred from the aquaculture unit to hydroponic units on demand, but not back. Thereby an individual management of both production units and the maintenance of optimal growth conditions in decoupled aquaponics are enabled, resulting in comparable yields compared to conventional production systems.

Bio

University of Bremen – Marine Biology

Diploma-thesis at Leibniz – Centre for Tropical Marine Research and Max-Planck-Institute for Marine Microbiology        

Research assistant at Leibniz -Institute for Freshwater Ecology and Inland Fisheries (IGB) in Berlin within the field of aquaponics in the project ASTAF-PRO   

PhD student at IGB financed via Elsa-Neumann-scholarship: Overcoming major bottlenecks in aquaponics – A practical approach

Post-Doc at IGB within the projects INAPRO and CITYFOOD

Hendrik Monsees will be at our Putting Up Shoots Conference coming from Berlin, Germany.

Speaker Spotlight: Peter Hill

Do you struggle to get delicious fresh food for your family every night? Would you like your children to be involved in farming and food preparation for meals? Are you worried about eating store produce because you know how some big farms might operate? Do you like great tasting food? Would you like to sell your extra at the farmers market, or share with your neighbors?

Is your church or community organization fighting food scarcity and quality? Would workforce training in computer design, carpentry, project management, farm operation, marketing, and distribution be beneficial in your community?

Interested in being a part of the 30% growth in organic food demand over the next ten years? No pesticides, no rolling stock, or wastewater permits. Low operating cost. Small footprint. Big payout!

We start with your concerns and production goals, add location, schedule, and a budget estimate. That gets us talking and arriving at the best solution for you. You get the education at the right time.

Peter Hill is an engineer that solves problems, creates digital solutions and teaches the information to others. My experience comes from life and the farm. My tools are Sketchup, Xcel, PowerPoint, paper, pencil and a ruler.

My solutions are in freshwater shrimp farming with a patent (aquaculture), saltwater farming (mariculture), industrial equipment human interface (process), IOT design (mechatronics) and aquaponic farm design. I currently teach at Anne Arundel Community College, Maryland. Previously, an assistant professor of physics, Illinois, high school biology teacher, Virginia, and engineer.

Let’s start your Aquaponic Farm design! Contact: Grow@SustainableDesign.Farm

Speaker Spotlight: Dr. Baker and Dr. Beecher

Speaker Spotlight – Dr. Kimberly Baker & Dr. Lance Beecher, Clemson University Cooperative Extension

“Promoting Spinach Consumption and Sustainable Agricultural Practices in South Carolina Schools using Aquaponics”

(Aquaponics Research & Food Safety Track)

Kimberly Baker:

Dr. Kimberly A. Baker completed her Ph.D. in Food Technology from Clemson University in 2016.  She is a registered and licensed dietitian and a trained chef.  Dr. Baker serves as the Food Systems and Safety Program Team Leader and State Consumer Food Safety Program Coordinator with the Clemson University Cooperative Extension.  Dr. Baker is also a certified Seafood HACCP Trainer and Instructor (Association of Food and Drug Officials), certified Food Safety Preventive Control for Human Food and Animal Food Lead Instructor (Food Safety Preventive Controls Alliance), certified Produce Safety Alliance Lead Trainer (Produce Safety Alliance) and ServSafe® Instructor/Proctor (National Restaurant Association).  

Lance Beecher:

Dr. Lance Beecher serves as an Extension Associate and State Specialist with the Clemson University Cooperative Extension Service. He received a Ph.D. from Clemson University in Environmental Toxicology and a M.S. and B.S. from Louisiana State University in Fisheries and Wildlife Biology. His background includes extensive work in aquaculture and aquaponics projects for over 25 years. His area includes recirculating system filtration and water quality management. Presently he is managing a 2500 gallon aquaponics system evaluating nutrient dynamics, sterilization techniques and aquaponics food safety protocols.  

 

This session will discuss a project conducted by Clemson Cooperative Extension about promoting spinach consumption and sustainable agricultural practices in South Carolina schools using Aquaponics.  The goals of this project were: 1) to increase nutritional knowledge and consumption of leafy green vegetables; 2) to enhance good handling practices and food safety during production and preparation; and 3) to promote South Carolina sustainable production practices, focusing on Aquaponics.  Two classes from two high schools participated in the project in which the class teacher was taught how to run an aquaponics system; and teach the students pre-determined learning content.  Lesson topics included: safe food handling, food safety of produce and nutrition and cooking of spinach.  Students and teachers were given a pre-test and post-test in order to evaluate knowledge gained.  This session will discuss how the project was implemented, project results and how this can be incorporated into other schools nationwide.  

Make sure you register for the conference today. Time is running out

Aquaponics in STEM Education

By Julie Flegal-Smallwood

According to Economic Modeling Specialists International (2017), STEM jobs will grow 13% between 2017 and 2027, while other career options will grow 9%. In addition, STEM jobs have a median salary of almost twice that of non-STEM jobs. The majority of STEM careers require at least some college, and most students, regardless of level, consider math, science, and other similar classes to be the hardest and most challenging. At the college level, this is often the reason many of my students are ready to graduate but still need to fulfill a college-level mathematics requirement. This is particularly true for low-income, minority, underprepared, or first generation college students.

 Aquaponics continues to be a content area which easily blends many aspects of STEM, and can turn “I can’t” attitudes into “I can”.  It allows students to be engaged in a real-world, important application of STEM. Redlands Community College in El Reno, OK has a robust Aquaponics program associated with two degrees  and a certificate program related to Agricultural Sustainability.

 Last year, I had a non-traditional (in almost every sense of the word) student who sat on the back row the first night of class, and looked as if he might bolt out the door at our break time. As a 36-year old Marine veteran, who also happened to be Native American and a first generation college student, Jason was dubious. He took the class only because he needed a 4-hour class to round out his schedule, and didn’t think it would have much “science and math stuff”.

With each class period he became more engaged, and by midterm asked if he could design a system for his home as his research requirement. Late at night, I would get text messages with pictures of the welding he had been doing or some tanks he had found to use in his homegrown approach. Our schedule included Saturday lab days and field trips, and he asked to bring his wife and children so they

 could learn more about his new passion. By the time we reached fish dissection, his 9-year old daughter was fixture in the class as well.

A year later, his life is much different. Instead of wondering if he could complete community college, he has upped his goals and wants to get a graduate degree in Microbiology or Chemistry, and hopes to work in the Aquaponics industry. In the meantime, he has three systems at home, is working on another one, and is a permanent volunteer in our greenhouse. He credits aquaponics at helping him break through significant PTSD issues, giving him a goal, and passing on some excitement to his five children, three of whom are girls.

 

We  have a STEM Track at this year conference. Check out our STEM Education Conference Discount.

Speaker Spotlight: Chris Williams, Community Aquaponics Track

 

“Opportunities and Limitations in Sustaining Community-Driven Aquaponics Operations”

Chris completed his Master of Science in Environment and Natural Resources Management at the University of Iceland in 2017.  His thesis, entitled “A Viability Assessment of Commercial Aquaponics Systems in Iceland”, was completed under Icelandic aquaponics professors and researchers Ragnheidur Thorarinsdottir and Magnus Thor Torfason.  Chris’ experience includes both aquaponics and hydroponics, as well as system automation using raspberry pi technology.  Chris presented portions of his work at a 2017 COST conference, hosted by the Europeanframework supporting trans-national cooperation among researchers, engineers and scholars across Europe.

Chris is from Columbus, OH. He received his undergraduate degree in 2010.  Since 2012 he has been working with local startups and small-scale operations designing and fabricating aquaponic, hydroponic, and aeroponic systems. Chris had spent 2013-2015 teaching English in China at Hainan University. He has successfully completed aquaponics training through the European COST Scientific Network and has aquaponics research manuscripts under peer-review for publication. Currently, Chris is working freelance for consultation with regards to aquaponics production.

If you want to see and speak to Chris make sure you
complete your registration for the conference today!

Video 2 on Myths of Aquaponics by Dr. Savidov: Systems & Crops

In the second video of our series on Myths and Misconceptions of Aquaponics, Dr. Savidov talks about aquaponics systems and crop types.

A Special Series on Myths and Misconceptions of Aquaponics with Nick Savidov, PhD: Series 2 – Systems and Crops on Vimeo.

Nick Savidov, PhD, Senior Research Scientist with Lethbridge College of Centre for Technology, Environment and Design shares his knowledge in this insightful three part series on myths and misconceptions of aquaponics. His one hour keynote presentation was shared at the 2017 Aquaponics Association in Portland, Oregon.

Also take a look at Video 1

Speaker Spotlight: Angela TenBroeck on Food Safety

Food Safety

You don’t need to look farther than CNN to realize that whether you grow food in your backyard for your family or you are a commercial grower, food safety is of utmost importance. This year at the Aquaponics Association Conference, Angela TenBroeck will deliver two dynamic, engaging and revealing presentations on:

  1. Commercial Aquaponics Food Safety: How can growers best insure the safety of the food they provide to their consumers. Learn how to create and implement a food safety program across all levels of your business from the material you use to start your seeds to the methods with which you deliver the produce to your customer. Angela will also discuss the legal food safety standards that commercial growers must comply with.
  2. Community Aquaponics Food Safety: Learn how to work towards making sure the products you grow and sell are safe. Learn simple, straight-forward practices to improve food safety in your local community-scale aquaponic systems.

 

Background

Angela TenBroeck has been a serial entrepreneur for over 30 years – with extensive experience in both the public and private sector. A fourth-generation farmer, Angela  and her family have been hydroponic farmers in North Florida since the 1970s. Angela is also a professional educator who has logged more than fifteen years in middle and high school education and administration, with emphasis in STEM and health curricula. In her time as an educator, Angela managed a $2 million Magnet Schools Assistance Program federal grant.

In 2013, her passion for sustainability and community outreach led Angela on a journey to launch the Center for Sustainable Agricultural Excellence and Conservation, a non-profit with a goal to change the lives of local farmers by offering a model for modern and sustainable farming practice. Given her background, she is an accomplished public speaker (e.g., Tedx 2014) with subject matter expertise in food safety, water and soil conservation techniques, STEM Health/Medicine education, and advanced methods of sustainable agriculture

Leveraging her experience in developing and operating the first commercial aquaponics facility in the world to obtain Safe Quality Food Level 3 certification, Angela  left day-to-day farm operations at Traders Hill Farm in early 2017 to change the hunger landscape. Angela has managed and advised on agricultural products across the United States and the Caribbean. Angela  runs Aqua Hortus, a company leading the way in services to develop and operate controlled-environment facilities to grow the highest quality and safest produce year-round, regardless of climate.

Another one of her current projects, Foodery Farms, changes the way brownfields are used in communities with food insecurities. The Pura Farms concept cycles clean water between farmed fish and vegetables, while utilizing solar energy. The use of elaborate biosecurity measures keeps pests out of the greenhouse, allowing Pura Farms produce to be “Beyond Organic,” with no need for chemicals or pesticides of any sort.

As the CEO and co-founder of Foodery Farms, Angela TenBroeck is working in conjunction with Pura Farms to launch aquaponic farms, with proprietary processes she has developed, throughout the United States and beyond. Pura Farms’ mission is to feed our communities with healthy, delicious and nutritious foods, eliminate food safety issues, and educate our future on the importance of protecting planet earth.

If you want to see and speak to Angela make sure you
complete your registration for the conference today!

 

A Video Series on Myths of Aquaponics by Dr. Savidov

There are many misconceptions about aquaponics. In this short video series Nick Savidov, PhD. walks you through and explains why they are myths and misconceptions. In the first series he talks about aquaponics in general.

A Special Series on Myths and Misconceptions of Aquaponics with Nick Savidov, PhD: Series 1 – Aquaponics in General on Vimeo.

Nick Savidov, PhD, Senior Research Scientist with Lethbridge College of Centre for Technology, Environment and Design shares his knowledge in this insightful three part series on myths and misconceptions of aquaponics. His one hour keynote presentation was shared at the 2017 Aquaponics Association in Portland, Oregon.

If you would like access to his entire presentation sign in to our members area only if you aren’t already a member now is the time to do so.

Dr. Savidov will also be one of our speakers in the upcoming annual conference “Putting Up Shoots” in Hartford, CT.

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