When you think of Wisconsin, you don’t think of salmon? Or leafy greens such as lettuce, spinach, and etc. I think of dairy cows and cheese!
Along with the greenhouse is a replicated North Atlantic Ocean 1-acre fish house. Thousands up thousands of salmon ranging from newly hatched eggs brought in from Iceland to 10 pounds after two years of growth. They are raised in 22,000-gallon tanks filled with fresh water drawn from a 180-foot well.
At this time, 95 percent of the Atlantic salmon consumed in the U.S. is mostly imported from countries such as Norway and Chile. Then about 90 percent of the lettuce grown in the U.S. comes from California and Arizona which is grown by traditional farming methods.
According to Superior Fresh, they are the largest aquaponics facility. “This is really a pioneering facility that’s breaking all the molds,” said Steve Summerfelt, an aquaculture systems expert and the chief science officer for Superior Fresh. “We’re truly disrupting food systems.”
The financial backers of this project are Todd Wanek, the CEO of Ashley Furniture, and his wife, Karen. They have put millions of dollars of support to ensure of its success.
Aquaponics is a combination of aquaculture and hydroponics. The water is circulated from the fish tanks into the greenhouse to help the plants to grow. Some will say jokingly, fish poo equals plant power; it provides the nutrients for the plants. Then the water is recirculated back to the fish tanks. The beautiful thing is, it’s all certified organic with no pesticides, growth hormones or other additives.
The goal for the future is to develop even larger facilities on the east and west coasts that could potentially be twice the size of the current location in Wisconsin providing fresh greens and salmon to millions of people.
Because of the controlled environment, Superior Fresh can ensure cleanliness including bio-security to prevent crop contamination. Food safety is a major concern especially with recent scares that occurred with e-coli outbreaks with romaine lettuce. Click "READ MORE" in lower right to read the rest of the article
The most effective temperature range for aquaponics to operate in is 68 to 75 F or 20 to 24 C. That is not saying you can‘t operate one if the temperatures are not that. I live in the tropics of Central America and we all know, it can get really hot. It’s not always convenient to either cool the system or heat it. It’s important that you build a system in such a way to naturally cool or heat first. Then, if you have to, spend the money needed to do either.
Plants and fish are your most important considerations. Decide what temp range you will be dealing with in your growing season. You may be fortunate enough to be growing all year around versus having only a short season in colder climates. Then you need to know the temp range for your plants and fish. This will determine what you can grow and type of fish you can have in your system. For example, you can have lettuce in cooler temps, but it will not do well in very hot climates. The same goes for fish. Tilapia, the temp range should be between 60-80 F and for Trout, it should be around 45-72 F. There are multiple other fish to consider as well.
But what if you are still having issues of being within the proper temperature range? What if you have the right temps for the summer but you want to extend your growing season by starting earlier and extending it further into the fall? Or you have scorching summer temps, but more moderate winter temps like in the tropics. We now will discuss ways to either cool the water or heat it.
1. The location of your system. Build your system in the shade more so than in the sun. This will give you a 5-degree heat reduction. Obviously, you must consider the plants you will be utilizing. How much sun do they need?
2. Does the area have good natural airflow? If not, can you build in such a way to install box fans?
3. Consider the size of your system. The more thermal mass, the less variation you will see over time in temperatures. Remember, it takes longer for the larger system’s water to heat up, but it takes longer to cool them down.
7. Insulate the exteriors of the tanks as well. Some have reported a 2-degree drop in water temperatures by doing so.
8. One trick I found and possibly an inexpensive way is to get a refrigerator. Start by drilling two holes in the side, connect a hose to the pump in the sump pit, run it into the hole that you drilled, coil the hose up in the refrigerator, and then run it out into the fish tank. This will cool the water and should be the last option. The only problem you would have to consider is the head pressure on the pump. It may require you to get a bigger pump with greater strength, thus require you to use more electric.
As you can tell, there are easy ways to cool the water for your plants and fish. Yes, I am sure there are some other considerations as well, but this will get you going in the right direction. TO READ THE REST OF THIS ARTICLE, CLICK "READ MORE" IN LOWER RIGHT SECTION.
When you use a natural stones as a medium for your grow beds, make sure you test it. Here is a video I produced to show you how to do so. Trust me, by skipping this step, you are potentially costing yourself much labor and finances in repairing the potential pH issues that could arise in your system.
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