[permaculture] pc aquaponics

Cory Brennan cory8570 at yahoo.com
Mon Oct 8 07:35:23 EDT 2012


Aquaponics is inevitable. It doesn't matter what we think about it, it will go forward and become more popular. There is good profit potential and it is super efficient - and relatively easy to do.  I know someone in Hong Kong that will be creating a skyscraper filled with aquaponics and hydroponics. Think of the footprint that will be reduced if a densely populated area like Hong Kong could produce a good chunk of its own food, in the city! They could bicycle the food to the local shops....With solar energy running pumps and fish food locally and efficiently grown, you could eliminate petroleum from the food system in dense cities.

I don't like the factory farm aspect, especially when fish are packed in to the point of releasing stress hormones. That goes into your food supply. But overall, aquaponics can reduce so much harm in so many other areas!  

As a designer, I think, how can we improve the system? I've seen systems with worms incorporated, outdoor pond systems, systems with islands of the plants right in the water, similar to chinampas, etc. Imagination is the only limitation. I would say the biggest unsustainable factor is the fish food. The person who develops a relatively easy way to produce no GMO/no chemical healthy, mineral and nutrient rich fish food in a small space without a huge amount of work, will be popular!  
 
Koreen Brennan

www.growpermaculture.com
www.facebook.com/growpermaculturenow
www.meetup.com/sustainable-urban-agriculture-coalition


________________________________
 From: christopher nesbitt <christopher.nesbitt at mmrfbz.org>
To: permaculture <permaculture at lists.ibiblio.org> 
Sent: Monday, October 8, 2012 1:15 AM
Subject: Re: [permaculture] pc aquaponics
 
Thank you for this. Its funny that aquaponics, one small practice, generates so much naysaying. I have seen this often, and the arguments all tend to be the same: its not natural, or: it cannot be balanced if it is not coming from soil, and: It is capital intensive. Thank you, Kathryn, for pointing out the obvious: aquaponics lends itself to extremely localized food systems. No food miles is a good thing. 

Kathryn said: "
>  I also question whether a farm that  
> grows in soil, but trucks in all its supplies and trucks out all its produce, is  "better" than someone who raises food via aquaponics in their backyard 
> with 1/10  the space, 1/10 the water, 1/1000 of the petroleum, and by the 
> system  design, can't use pesticides or herbicides.  

1/10the water use? 1/10th the space? 1/1000th the petroleum use? Can't use pesticides or herbicides? That sounds pretty good, to me.

Scott asked:
> in this closed system, where does the selenium,  calcium and phosphorous 
> come
> from?

Perhaps part of the problem you have with aquaponics, Scott, is that you, like many who naysay, do not understand aquaponics. The system is NOT closed. You are bringing food to the fish, and taking veggies out. That is a linear system. The only "closed" aspect is the water. While the water recirculates, you have inputs in feed, wether you make your own, raise your own or buy Purina Aquaponics Chow (which IS a problem), and remove herbs, veggies and fish from the system. Water leaves the fish tank laden with some manure, and returns filtered by the gravel, bacteria and plant roots, oxygenated. 

Amongst its many attributes, one of the ones that impresses me is that it is highly productive. Joel Malcolm produced over 100 kilograms of veggies and herbs, over 50 kilograms of fish, in an area 4x8 meters, in six months. That is a staggering amount of food, in just veggies and herbs, alone. Considering the fish, thats fantastic.

So, is it balanced? that begs the question: What are you feeding your fish? If the source of your fish is worms from your land, or black soldier fly larvae from compost from your land, or from a bug zapper placed over the tank, or from raised mosquito larvae, or from tadpoles, or from algae, or, if you are making pellets from egg, rice bran, coconut, moringa leaf, acai berry, noni, chicken parts (organically grown, and butchered on site), and the soil that comes from is balanced, then... the mineral content of the fish manure should be balanced in minerals. The mineral content of your fish dung is tied to the mineral content of the what you are feeding them.

In an on line evening discussing aquaponics, a group of people came up with "decaponics", which was a series of energy and nutrient flows built around aquaponics. There were 10 components. As I recall, in our free for all design, we penned in rabbits, sheep, a piggery with biogas plant, ducks, vermicomposting, spirulina production, and some other things. I forget. I think a bug zapper was over the fish tank. The papers are somewhere. The point is that aquaponics can be tied into larger things.

In a world of expanding populations, soil depletion and loss of farmland, NOT considering aquaponics seems to me to be discarding a useful tool. To me, clearly aquaponics has a role to play.

Again, in a situation, like in an urban setting, or where soils are either depleted or contaminated, or where inadequate water is available to produce in soil, producing out of season veggies locally, either from home use or for commercial use, in a world of increasing costs of transported food, aquaponics has plenty to offer. It is not THE solution, but, in a nuanced world, it is A solution. As I mentioned, earlier, having a biological filter comprised of gravel, bacteria on the gravel, and plant roots, allows for high stocking densities of fish. High stocking densities of fish being filtered through bacterially colonized gravel, with plant roots, enables people to produce veggies with no petroleum miles on them, lots of veggies and fish, in a small area. The only cost is the initial energy to build the system, and the electricity to run it, and, of course, the energy to source your feed.

As Kathryn and I have said, aquaponics is one tool to have in your tool kit. It is not THE answer, but it is a solution to a fairly large set of problems. I would not relegate soil based agriculture to the dust bin of history, hahahah, and I still farm a lot of land, over 25 acres, now, a full on food forest, with over 500 species, but aquaponics has huge potential, and I am looking forward to working with our system. I intend to add the occasional cup of compost tea to our system, for fungal communities.

Lastly, Scott, I wasn't going to throw in mangrove. In the last 12 years, I have done a lot of work for Fisheries Dept installing photovoltaic systems in seven marine protected areas. Mangrove, like most "edges", is very productive, in fish and crustaceans, birds. Apart from "coco plum", and "sea almond", not much food can grow in mangrove, and none can in red mangrove, which is the species of mangrove that grows directly in salt water, here. White mangrove and black mangrove prefer sandy soil. Belize has %3.4 of it's territory in mangrove. That is still %98.7 of its colonial spread. In Belize mangrove is protected. Its not really a good analogy to chinampa or rice paddy, as you pointed out. I am not sure why you brought it up.


_____________________________
Christopher Nesbitt

Maya Mountain Research Farm
San Pedro Columbia, Toledo
PO 153 Punta Gorda Town, Toledo
BELIZE, 
Central America

Country code 501-630-4386

www.mmrfbz.org
www.facebook.com/MayaMountainResearchFarm




On Oct 7, 2012, at 8:32 PM, KAKerby at aol.com wrote:

> I've been debating whether to enter the fray, being a new member of the  
> group and a relatively new farmer as well. But many of the questions about  
> aquaponics raised so far, have been very well laid to rest by the research  
> already done.  University of the Virgin Islands, under the direction of Dr.  
> James Rakocy, has done a tremendous amount of research on building, running 
> and  harvesting from an extensive aquaponics system that is used to feed the 
> student  cafeterias.  University of Arizona is getting into various aspects 
> of  aquaponics, and when I toured their facility a number of years ago, were 
> making  some interesting progress growing Native American herbs which were 
> in  danger of being harvested into extinction in the wild.  Nelson & Pade  
> in Wisconsin are deeply involved with using aquaponics not only as a 
> commercial  enterprise, but using aquaponics systems to teach kids about the 
> connections  between food production, water quality, wildlife habitat and that 
> nothing really  leaves Earth's own closed system.  So whatever you put into the 
> "system",  whether it's a single tank or a planet, darn well better not have 
> toxic results  downstream, because we're all ultimately eating whatever is 
> downstream.   Colorado State University, University of Hawaii, University of 
> Florida and at  least one university in Canada (can't remember who at the 
> moment) are all  exploring how aquaponics can help answer local food 
> production issues, such as  drought, heat, cold, high light, low light, high 
> humidity, etc.  The amount  of research available out there on aquaponics 
> performance is already impressive,  and steadily growing.
> 
> We have a small farm here, and we are renting land on a larger farm 10  
> miles away.  We are definitely soil-based for the most part, and we  are still 
> going through our first year of organic certification.  So I am  at least 
> somewhat familiar with the ideas of managing farms for long-term soil  
> fertility, carrying capacity, and building the farm to work with instead of  
> against natural local systems and patterns.  I latched onto permaculture a  number 
> of years ago because it just made so much sense to really go "deep" with  
> natural systems that can be so amazingly productive and vibrant.  But we  
> also live in the real world, with real bills and real limitations.  We rent  
> land because we can't do everything we need to do here.  We have shallow,  
> stony soils, lots of trees blocking the sun, an eastern aspect which means our  
> soils are very slow to warm in springtime, and bedrock only 12"  down.  
> Our rental land has wonderful deep alluvial plain soils, great  solar gain, 
> easy access, and moderated temperature swings because it's close to  the 
> water.  But it also reliably floods every year, and some years it  doesn't dry 
> out until late spring.  We are currently debating where we  ultimately want to 
> be.  I can tell you now that commuting between the two  is a serious drag, 
> and I can't really call ourselves even slightly  sustainable having to 
> shuttle between the two.  And while I am very in love  with soil-based 
> agriculture, I can say that aquaponics would allow us to  condense our operations into 
> a single site, either here or there, because that  approach would allow us 
> to "backfill" all the production gaps or challenges that  each site has.  
> 
> Aquaponics is in part being promoted so heavily, and researched so heavily, 
> specifically because even prime agricultural areas like ours, still have  
> production issues that need to be solved.  Not to mention a whole lot of  
> folks who have no land at all.  Of course it would be wonderful if everyone  
> had access to good solar exposure, nice deep soils without contamination, 
> plenty  of good clean water, ample growing seasons and enough room to raise  
> what they want to raise either for themselves or their community.  But I  
> question the wisdom of insisting on soil-based agriculture, if aquaponics would  
> allow families or communities in poor growing areas, to raise their own 
> food  with a minimum of inputs, and without harsh chemicals.  I believe the  
> politics, economics and ethics of food self reliance trumps the niceties of  
> saying everyone needs to grow in soil.  I also question whether a farm that  
> grows in soil, but trucks in all its supplies and trucks out all its 
> produce, is  "better" than someone who raises food via aquaponics in their backyard 
> with 1/10  the space, 1/10 the water, 1/1000 of the petroleum, and by the 
> system  design, can't use pesticides or herbicides.  
> 
> I prefer to think of aquaponics as yet one more tool in the toolbox.  
> Everyone has options, some have more options than others.  If it's a  question 
> of a family having to go without food, or bring in food from distant  places 
> because their place in the world is poorly situated for growing, then by  
> all means encourage them to grow their own, using aquaponics.  We're headed  
> towards 9 billion people on this little marble within most of our  lifetimes. 
> Expanses of rich fertile soil may become quite the luxury,  quite soon.
> Kathryn Kerby
> frogchorusfarm.com
> Snohomish, WA USA
> 
> 
> In a message dated 10/7/2012 6:53:04 P.M. Pacific Daylight Time,  
> scott at permaculture.org writes:
> 
> I too  have serious misgivings about aquaponics.  It is always presented  as
> some kind of perpetual motion machine that provides for all its needs  
> within
> the system, which I doubt.  I also do not believe that it could  possible
> have the nutrients necessary for providing wholesome and  nutritious
> foodstuff.  We are talking about the primary nutrient  source being fish 
> dung
> in this closed system, where does the selenium,  calcium and phosphorous 
> come
> from?  The co-evolution of plants with  soil organisms and minerals has
> created the human nutrition story and  without soil I think the actual
> nutrient content will be woefully  inadequate.  
> 
> I would love to see some data on nutrient content of  hydroponic vs soil
> based vegetables.
> 
> I would also point out that  both the rice paddy system and chinampa systems
> are soil based systems with  a lot of water to maintain growth they are not
> by any means hydroponic or  aquaponic. You might also throw in the fast
> disappearing mangroves as an  example of aquaponics but again you would be
> wrong.
> 
> Scott  Pittman
> Permaculture Institute USA
> 
> 
> 
> "Another world is  not only possible, she is on her way. 
> On a quiet day, I can hear her  breathing." 
> ~Arundhati Roy
> 
> -----Original Message-----
> From:  permaculture-bounces at lists.ibiblio.org
> [mailto:permaculture-bounces at lists.ibiblio.org]  On Behalf Of christopher
> nesbitt
> Sent: Sunday, October 07, 2012 2:32  PM
> To: permaculture
> Subject: Re: [permaculture] pc aquaponics
> 
> Hi  Steve,
> 
> I have to disagree with your assessment that aquaponics is  "working against
> nature". Perhaps you do not understand that aquaponics is  using hydroponic
> grow beds to filter and oxygenate water in high stocking  density
> aquaculture, in a recirculating system?  
> 
> The concept  of plants and water is not a new concept. While aquaponics uses
> pumps and  pipes and electricity, it is not that different to the concept of
> paddy  rice, or to the chinampa system practiced in Central Mexico by the
> Aztecs,  which are both time honored and highly productive. Nobody would
> consider  either of these systems to be "working against nature". Are
> electric lights  working against nature? Should we return to oil lamps?
> 
> One of the  limiting factors in aquaculture is the stocking density. Putting
> too much  fish in the water can result in build up of ammonia and a bloom of
> algae,  resulting in depletion of oxygen and death of your fish. This is
> called  eutrophication. Another problem is that veggies and herbs need
> certain  conditions. Our rainy season here in Belize, for example, is too 
> wet
> to  grow cabbage, cucumbers, tomatoes, or the plants will get hammered by  
> our
> rain. We get over 160 inches of rain a year, with up to 8 inches of  rain in
> a night during the intense rains of June, July and August. You can  apply
> that to areas with hard freezes, too.
> 
> Aquaponics converts the  problem of too much nutrients in water into the
> solution to how to grow  veggies and herbs in a small area. First, it allows
> small holders to grow  fish in a small area, say a back yard, or a patio, 
> and
> it also allows the  production of vegetables. Coupled with a green house in 
> a
> temperate  climate, it would either increase your season for veggies, or 
> make
> it year  round.  
> 
> Aquaponics is definitely is a tool to keep in your tool  kit. While I would
> never imagine aquaponics would replace soil based  agriculture, or pond 
> based
> aquaculture, aquaponics lends itself well on  places with any of the
> following issues:
> 1. Poor soil
> Much of the  world has poor soil, and soil based agriculture will give  
> small
> yields.
> 2. Contaminated soil
> In places where the soil, itself,  is toxic, aquapnics allows the production
> of fresh local veggies and herbs  while avoiding taking up toxins in soil
> 3. Lack of access to water for  irrigation 
> Aquaponics is %90 more efficient with water than soil based  agriculture.
> Israel is one of the leaders in aquaponics technology. 
> 4.  High population density areas, especially urban areas.
> Aquaponics can have  a very small foot print, can be roof mounted, can be
> part of school  programs, attached to hospitals. Working with industrial
> ecologies toed to  surplus energy or nutrients, like day old bread and waste
> heat from a  bakery, for example, or table scraps fed to vermiculture in a
> cafeteria,  and the  earth worms giving nutrients for the fish, and yeilding
> worm  castings for gardens, and aquaponics can be integrated into an  urban
> landscape.
> 
> Aquaponics systems range in size from gold fish  tanks to many acres of
> veggies with thousands of fish in tens of thousands  of gallons of water.
> Some are expensive, built rom expensive parts, and  some are made from old
> tanks and barrels. Joels system, in a space 4x8  meters in size, produced 
> 100
> kilograms of veggies and over 50 kg of fich in  a 6 month period in suburban
> Perth. Nobody can say it is not productive.  
> 
> We are working on an aquaponics system here, and expect it to be up  and
> running by the end of the year. Limiting factors for us have been  having a
> large enough photovoltaic system to run it. If anyone is  interested in
> learning a LOT about aquaponics, check genius Aussie Joel  Malcolms web page
> www.backyardaquaponics.com. He even has a forum where  hundred of people 
> have
> their systems on display. 
> 
> Best  wishes,
> 
> Christopher
> 
> 
> _____________________________
> Christopher  Nesbitt
> 
> Maya Mountain Research Farm
> San Pedro Columbia, Toledo
> PO  153 Punta Gorda Town, Toledo
> BELIZE, 
> Central America
> 
> Country  code  501-630-4386
> 
> www.mmrfbz.org
> www.facebook.com/MayaMountainResearchFarm
> 
> 
> 
> 
> On  Oct 7, 2012, at 12:06 PM, Steve Hart wrote:
> 
>> Permaculture  Aquaponics ?....thats doing sprouts. Interesting debate
> Georg.
>> I  recall a strong cliche and probably a well used principle  in
> Permaculture
>> that states " Work with Nature not Against Her" .  Any water plants that
>> exist in that world in nature are surely part of  an aquaponic system. But
>> when we call hydroponics organic and  Permaculture someone went to the
> wrong
>> course or had a very  deficient teacher. I like the connection with nature
>> for it has so  many valuable realms that connect many of our critical
>> functions to  the elements we receive from that connection. They are not
>> simple  nutrition but many other levels of energy as well. Then of  course
> we
>> get into another huge debate about appropriate or non  -appropriate diets.
>> Interesting to see the acceleration in Prana. I  look forward to the
>> debate....Steve Hart
>> 
>> On 7 October  2012 16:06, georg parlow <g.parlow at gmx.at> wrote:
>> 
>>> Hi there,
>>> 
>>> Being stuck in a city I recently started  pondering and researching the
>>> idea of aquaponics. The web tells me  of Max Meyers doing aquaponics
>>> the permaculture way. I am am pc  designer myself for almost 20 years
>>> now, with moderate experience  in counselling, design and
>>> implementation. I am wondering what he  does differently that any
>>> decent permie would not think of my  himself? Any experiences? Any
>>> reports or details of his approach  anywhere on the web?
>>> 
>>> thanks,
>>> Georg
>>> _______________________________________________
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>> 
>> 
>> -- 
>> Kia ora
>> 
>> [image: Picture]
>> *Steve  Hart*
>> Ecology Architect
>> skype: stevenlawrencehart
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