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  1. #1
    Moderator JCO's Avatar
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    COMM/AP THINK TANK...!

    OK, commercial Aquaponics has been cussed and discussed many times here and there on this forum so I thought it was time to put out the challenge to all the members.

    Let's say you have the money to purchase 20 acres of land for this project.

    Here are the questions at hand:-

    1) How important is the location of the Com/AP sys. geographically relative to success?

    2) What style of greenhouse is best suited for a truly large Com/AP sys.?

    3) What sort of heating/cooling system to be used?

    4) Where do you house the fish...inside/outside or a combination of both?

    5) What fish/crustaceans do you raise?

    6) What veggie/s to grow to produce the most profit?

    7) How do you market your products?

    8) Do you shift crops for winter/summer?

    9) How much capitol is needed for an initial start up?

    10) What time frame from start up to first product/s ready for sale?

    11) How many persons needed to accomplish success?

    Please feel free to chime in with more questions but please number them in sequence.

    When you answer a question, please list the number of the question that you are responding to. I know it's being a little restrictive however I am in hopes it will give the discussion more structure.

    As for responses to responses, well we'll just have to do the best we can do to keep it all together.

    I realize some of these question are very general in content but that's where the challenge comes in. It is up to us to figure this out piece by piece.
    JCO
    Irish eyes are always smiling but
    • "In the eyes of the world, you are only as good as your last success"
    so never forget
    • "MAN IS ONLY LIMITED BY HIS IMAGINATION"

  2. #2
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    Re: COM/AP LET'S FIGURE IT OUT..!

    1. i'd say the location is going to determine all of the other factors so i'd rate it as number 1 priority
    2. that's going to depend on the location.. i get pretty chilly winters, and wouldn't need the same kind of gh someone in florida would need..
    3 i'd use as much stored energy as possible (partially bury everything), but again, that's because of my location
    4. for me.. the fish species would determine location.. with yellow perch i could probably do both, a warmer water fish would be inside tanks
    5. yellow perch and probably crayfish, but the crayfish would mostly be feed for the yp, probably try hybrid striped bass.. and a few sturgeon
    6. i'd have to investigate the market more, but i'd probably go with specialty items if selling to restaurants etc..
    7. get out and sell!
    8. in stages, for my ag zone, but expanding starting times with the gh
    9. LOTS
    10. startup time.. depending on what the first crop is could be 6 weeks before produce is selling, probably a little longer, this will depend on what you're growing, fish, i'd have multiple tanks with multiple stages of growth (fish graders are an important tool), but if planned right, could be selling perch immediately

    11 2 full timers and 2 part timers

    i'll try to elaborate later...

  3. #3
    Moderator JCO's Avatar
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    Re: COM/AP LET'S FIGURE IT OUT..!

    keith, that's at good start...now go back and elaborate thoroughly with particulars on each item you listed.

    Think of it as your actual project where you live and be specific on each item, don't generalize.

    That's what has brought us to this point.

    Most of what you have said has already been posted somewhere on the forum. Be original and outspoken in your thinking.
    JCO
    Irish eyes are always smiling but
    • "In the eyes of the world, you are only as good as your last success"
    so never forget
    • "MAN IS ONLY LIMITED BY HIS IMAGINATION"

  4. #4
    Members Aloha Don's Avatar
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    Re: COM/AP LET'S FIGURE IT OUT..!

    1)Location is very important and will determine most of the other factors listed here. I like my current location of Hawaii. Although it is not a business-friendly state, the temperature is mild all year, insect problems are minimized, solar panels maximized, pretty constant trade winds will allow wind turbines to provide air, and big green houses are not really needed or the need to heat area. I am toying with the idea of having a shipping container to house FT, clarifier and filters will be placed in this insulated building with shade cloth above and small AC inside...That way the lettuce will always be getting nice cool water.

    2)In this type of environment (from #1) a simple greenhouse that keeps direct sunlight off and allows us to not trounce through the mud as we harvest and maintain system is all that would be needed.

    3)Stated in #1. no need to heat but lettuce thrives in cool better (from what I have read)

    4)FT will be inside insulated AC environment. The AC should not have to do much work because of the stability the water provides to the area.

    5)Tilapia would be the fish of choice. Restaurants, china town, and other small stores love tilapia here. JCO also has me thinking of Koi....Lot of Asian population here that like this fish and they have $$$.

    6)The primary cash crop (backbone) would be lettuce. Once we have the backbone in place and start making consistent money then we would like to expand to other specialized markets. Grow less and demand more money. Maybe get into the sprouts/micro green arena or produce a specialty item that we can market....not sure yet...still toying with some ideas... The point is though, make sure the backbone crop can sustain itself and provide for the expansion.

    7)Marketing is scary to me...we do have 2-3 major distributors here on island that can act as the funnel for our product but using distributers also means settling for a reduced price. To sell directly to health food supermarkets, exercise facilities, specialty stores and farmers markets could mean we get more money for our product but it also means more work. Have to weigh it out ...count the cost...

    8)Donít think this is necessary here in Hawaii. Keep the backbone crop growing and tinker to find ways to increase the yield...misters, extra air, etc...

    9) Initial startup money is tricky. Have been looking on-line for systems to order and just put together here but they are quite pricey and shipping to Hawaii is crazy.... building our own system is more cost effective but requires more time and energy to get her up and working....Time will be in shorter supply because I cant quit the day job --YET. But I think building your own system is better.

    10) We are initially thinking of doing HP to get things going until we can build and cycle the system....then flush and transfer everything to AP. If we can do it this way, we should be able to build the germination/sprouting tables fast to get the seeds started and then work on the growing systems in time to transfer the seeds....(please excuse me if my terminology is off. This is what is going through my head at this time...) This should provide first harvest within 6 weeks and change to and expand to the AP in 3 months.

    11) Initially we are thinking 3 people for the backbone system but once we get to expanding we are looking at maybe 2 more people.....still working on this and wont probably know until we are up and running and expanding....First priority is getting the money flowing constantly so I can quit my day job...
    Put all excuses aside and remember this: YOU are capable - Zig Ziglar

  5. #5
    Members Aloha Don's Avatar
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    Re: COMM/AP THINK TANK...!

    This thread has been up for a couple of days and I am surprised more people have not chimed in with their ideas/dreams/challenges/goals....
    Thought for sure 15 Mules would have given some of his great ideas....
    Put all excuses aside and remember this: YOU are capable - Zig Ziglar

  6. #6
    Moderator JCO's Avatar
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    Re: COMM/AP THINK TANK...!

    Don't know what to tell you Don. I, like you, thought this would be a topic of great interest to all, my bad... As for 15mules, he's on his way home from South America...probably there by now, just resting up and getting his feet on the ground. I expect him soon. As for the rest, I at a loss.
    JCO
    Irish eyes are always smiling but
    • "In the eyes of the world, you are only as good as your last success"
    so never forget
    • "MAN IS ONLY LIMITED BY HIS IMAGINATION"

  7. #7
    Moderator davidstcldfl's Avatar
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    Re: COMM/AP THINK TANK...!

    1- The location is important for commercial...closer to an urban area is best.

    My friend and I are getting ready to do a small commercial set up. We are looking at some property in Orlando. It actually is zoned for 'AG'
    Here, the diversity of folks is so great, someone will want to eat whatever we raise....even carp/koi...
    The location is in an area where folks with a' bigger' budget for (organic) food lives.

    2- We will have access to a building...48 x 20 some feet wide. . It will be for greens only. Will either use T 5 or 8's. We plan on a shallow water raft system....using worm tea...made with water from an AP system.

    3- The building...We will insulate and cool it during the summer. Using AC.
    However, we may consider trying to cool the building using water from the lake, in a chiller type set up. The lake is supposed to be 30 ft. deep...I'm not sure of the temperature at the lower level..?

    The building already has solar panels...11 KW....

    8-We will have shade houses for other stuff to use year round.

    7 - The goal, is 'mostly' to have stuff for those working there and investing in it. The extra will be sold.
    We are considering an organic cert. I think it's too much money. But the main investor wants to try to sell to the health food stores.
    (1) We do have a 'Whole foods' just a few miles away and many more in the area


    It will be more then just 'aquaponics'. Most of the veggies will be grown using vermiponics. That way we can use organic pest controls that we couldn't in a true ap system...like neem oils. It's tuff in FL....we have just about every plant eating bug and every type of plant disease.


    We will also raise rabbits, chickens (meat and for eggs) and hopefully a bee hive or 2.

    More later...running out of time on the library's computer...
    "Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. We didn't pass it to our children in the bloodstream. It must be fought for, protected, and handed on for them to do the same." - President Ronald Reagan

  8. #8
    Members dead_sled's Avatar
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    Re: COMM/AP THINK TANK...!

    My wife and I recently purchased about 13 acres of land, so I will use this for the basis of my answers. Also, I am in South-central Nebraska.

    1) How important is the location of the Com/AP sys. geographically relative to success?
    Location can definitely plays a major role in operations. This will influence everything from plants grown to how the structures are built. It will also be a factor in prices (labor, market price, utilities, taxes, etc). We received a good deal on the land, so this is where we are at.

    2) What style of greenhouse is best suited for a truly large Com/AP sys.?
    Initially we will be building hoop houses. I am sure that there are better ways to do it. I made this decision based on cost, construction time, I can build it myself, and there are other commercial growers in our area that have success with these. Also, a building permit is not needed because it can be considered a temporary structure.

    3) What sort of heating/cooling system to be used?
    My initial thoughts are to use a combination solar/wood fired hydronic system that will heat the ground. Cooling will be done by ventilation and evaporative cooling.

    4) Where do you house the fish...inside/outside or a combination of both?
    The fish will be housed inside. I am thinking of putting them on the north end of the greenlhouses.

    5) What fish/crustaceans do you raise?
    I plan to start with koi and perch. I am concerned with maintaining a proper temp for warmer water fish. If possible, I would like to add freshwater prawns. Even if it is just a seasonal product.

    6) What veggie/s to grow to produce the most profit?
    I am leaning toward herbs and greens to start.

    7) How do you market your products?
    There are a few options that I am considering: farmers markets, stores, and csa.

    8) Do you shift crops for winter/summer?
    Yes. Definitely have to plant to maximize the changing seasons. The system could be modular and sized for the seasons (output = more for warmer, less for colder).

    9) How much capitol is needed for an initial start up?
    Still finalizing design and calculating. May have to take my shoes off. This could be more than $10.

    10) What time frame from start up to first product/s ready for sale?
    Possibly 3 months.

    11) How many persons needed to accomplish success?
    I am not exactly sure. I am planning to ease into it, building as I have cash. The labor will be added as needed.
    Less irritating avatar since 02/27/14.

  9. #9
    Members Aloha Don's Avatar
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    Re: COMM/AP THINK TANK...!

    Dead_sled - Of the 13 acres you have, how much land are you dedicating initially to growing?
    What do you plan to grow out to?
    I wish I had that land over here...
    thanks for your input to this
    Put all excuses aside and remember this: YOU are capable - Zig Ziglar

  10. #10
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    Re: COMM/AP THINK TANK...!

    Maybe I can offer something here. I work with some of the largest growers in the US and have supervisory experience in retail produce. I'll only address those I'm comfortable with.

    1) Location is 'the' critical issue. Climate, work force, business friendly government, energy costs, retail market proximity, etc. etc., will all play a hand in ultimate success or failure.

    2) Concrete.......I see you are located near Jacksonville......you don't want the first tropical storm to relocate you to Georgia. Yes I'm joking......sort of......losing a crop is one thing, losing the entire operation is something else. Goes back to #1.

    6) The 64 thousand dollar question....a Yuma, Ariz. lettuce grower has a great year when a southern Florida lettuce grower has a complete failure. Every cantaloupe grower from California to Florida files bankruptcy when a Colorado grower has a listeria outbreak as "Harriet Housewife" won't touch ANY melon with a ten foot pole in that scenario. If it was me......I might look at a line of 'herbs' for restaurants???????? I dunno!

    7) 20 acres may be large in the AP world but barely qualifies as a parking lot in the world of agriculture. I would think a "unique" crop or a "unique" market will be necessary. "Organic" will not do it as every/most large farms have dedicated 'organic' product lines that you would necessarily be competing with. Were I attempting this, I would target restaurants, farmers market, etc. or better yet, smaller wholesale produce companies who supply these types of businesses.

    8) The trend in Agribusiness is to specialize and give a consistent supply. Take Del Monte Fresh Produce (Coral Gables, Fl.) cantaloupe for example. They start the year in Costa Rico/Guatemala to Florida/Southern Ariz. to Georgia/Central Ariz to Central California/Georgia and then start south again to provide Costco, Walmart etc., with a year around supply of melons. This reduces their exposure to total crop failure and increases the chance of hitting a firm 'market'. IMO, you could do the same (to some extent) in a 'climate controlled' facility. This is only one example of many I could give........again.....IMO, 'unique' is the key.

    9) Just my experience.......total up every expense you can think of......double that figure and you 'might' be close. Keep in mind that there are "MANY" new regulations on the food industry implemented or about to be implemented under the guise of 'National Security', 'Anti-Terriosm', 'Food Security', Chain of Custody that make it ever more difficult for the "Little Guy". Very costly in their implementation.

    My .02 cents.......and about all it's worth.

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