Gone Fishin’ – FarmTek Dives into Aquaponics
At FarmTek, we are always looking to try out new things. We stay up to date on the latest innovations and try to delve into new markets as often as we can. That’s why we are so excited to announce that not only do we have a great new aquaponic system at our Iowa location, but we have developed a line of aquaponic systems that will make its debut in our August catalog!
But let’s not put the cart before the horse. Some of you may be wondering what exactly an aquaponic system is and how it can benefit your growing operation. Aquaponics is a mix between aquaculture (growing fish) and hydroponics (growing plants without soil). These two controlled environment agriculture methods are combined so you can produce fish and crops at the same time.
Why combine these two methods? Well, the nutrient-rich fish waste goes through a filtration system where a biological process turns the ammonia into nitrate so it can be used by the plants. Sam, our greenhouse manager, says it is like the circle of life!
Our aquaponic system is very state of the art, and was the basis of design for the systems we will be selling on our catalog shortly. It consists of four 120-gallon fish rearing tanks where we are currently growing tilapia. Tilapia are popular fish for aquaponics because you can grow a lot of them in a small space and they can tolerate a wide array of environmental parameters. We currently have 132 fish in one tank, 111 in another and 110 in a third stock tank. This system can produce between 400 and 500 lbs. of fish per year, not to mention the lettuce production!
This system is closed and has only one pump. Energy efficiency is crucial in hydroponics, so most of our system is gravity fed. Closed systems are the best choice for aquaponics because you do not need to add fresh water every day.
With aquaponics, it is very important that you stay on top of your water chemistry. You need to monitor dissolved oxygen, ammonia, nitrates, temperature, pH and water flow. You also have to feed your fish up to five times a day. Don’t forget, this is farming. Monitor your fish just like you would monitor your livestock!
We will keep giving you updates on our aquaponic system and other new endeavors we are jumping into. As always, feel free to let us know if there is something you’d like to learn more about, and look out for the new aquaponics systems in your catalog this August!
What new growing activities are you getting into?