Aquaponic Gardening

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Chatting to some friends recently about aquaponics, I re-visited some thoughts that were shared on the forum some months ago.  They are also from an academic background, and we were lamenting how difficult it was to get any type of support out of these places without the institutions immediately wanting to corner IP, and not push the technology forward.  I told them how wonderful it was that AP is developing through forums like this one.  Over here, you can watch new member’s systems develop rapidly, and you can have a huge amount of input coming from all sectors of expertise needed to rapidly develop the industry.  I would like to think of it as a “two steps forward and one look back” development.

 

New ideas can be tested and vetted rapidly, as the person with the idea is not scared to share it, knowing that there will be someone out there capable, and most of the times willing, to add to or improve the concept before it is tried.  If it is a bum concept, it is also likely to be tried and turned down in cyberspace before too much time was spent on it.  Results of testing and concepts are openly shared, thus the concept is proposed, vetted, tested and reported back on extremely fast in comparison with what I am used to – Get idea, keep it secret, write funding proposal, get money, perform research, write report, and keep it secret because someone now owns the IP…………

 

As was suggested before, aquaponics is perhaps one of the first serious new production methodologies that is developing in a largely open-source environment.  The staggering speed at which ideas are being put forwards and systems morph into new designs.  Only a few years ago, there were perhaps three main designs only.  Now there are so many options to choose from.  Ideas have also become product lines in a very short time frame here.  All very impressive to me.  My recent renewed interest in sand as a media options was sparked mainly by reading comments about how it was a preferred media in the early days of testing systems.  So, I am thinking – long may this process continue.  Two steps forward, one look back.  Get an idea, test it try it out among cyber friends, write about it and off we go.

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Comment by Kobus Jooste on May 3, 2011 at 11:46pm

It is not a half baked question at all, Homefire!  I am starting to expand my home unit to test sand and misting.  I have been posting about a cheap aeroponic design I'm working on (I think it is the mixed or advanced group).  I want to confine the experiment to a simpler phase where the plants are housed in 110 mm (4 inch?) pvc pipe.  The plants will be in net pots, and the water will be delivered through spray lines housed inside the pipe.

 

For sand (which has a slow drainage time) and aeroponics / mist ponics though, IMO, there will always be the constraint of mineralization and biological filtration requirements though.  I still think the fish tank water will have to be turned over fast enough to maintain water quality, and that there will have to be adequate surface area somewhere to trap solids, provide a habitat for bacteria and worms and run the chemical processes we need.  You are correct though in your thinking that if we build systems to use misting, we should be able to get very efficient plant growth, which is what is drawing me to experiment.  I picture my home unit having a "core" of a fish tank and gravel beds, and then peripheral sand beds and aeroponics where most of the crops will be housed. 

 

I need to bring things like filters and solids removal into place to get a very clean line of water for the spray line, but as I am not discarding my gravel core, I am still using all my solids in the system.

Comment by Kobus Jooste on May 3, 2011 at 11:35pm
Your comment reminded me about something really important to me right now.  South Africa is in dire need of this "food revolution", but typically lacks the "grow it in the urban environment" mentality.  There is also great problems with planning and sustainable use issues that can only be addressed by going back to schools and starting with the children.  Not saying that it is not worth trying to get some support out of the adult population, but lets learn from the marketers and start establishing sustainable urban agriculture as a conspicuous part of the new urban lifestyle.  Adults interested in the concept will show up, but hopefully the next generation will take growing their own food as "for granted" as this generation is with buying terrible warehoused stuff.
Comment by Homefire on May 3, 2011 at 10:11pm

Hi Kobus,

 

Speaking of media and experiments, you embolden me to ask a half baked question.  Do you know of anyone who has succeded with large scale Fog Ponics or Mist Ponics?  Just off the top of my beginer's head it seems atractive;

  • No grow media needed.
  • No timers, siphon valves or index valves.
  • Plenty aeration.
  • Tiny fraction of water volume needed. (could you serve much more grow space / fish or humonia input)
  • Simplified plumbing, containers don't have to hold head pressure.

One would need a very good filter system to keep fog heads from clogging.

 

Curious,

Homefire

Comment by David Waite on May 3, 2011 at 9:45pm
Great point Kobus. I feel like we are on the begining of a food revolution that will spark the interest of the next generation as a way to farm that is fun to the younger crowd. Think about it, you can grow food in town and its all organic and not get your hands dirty. Or too dirty haha. This will bring food back to the population in the next ten years Im sure. Every kid I show this to is almost always over the top excited about the concept.

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