Submitted by Damien Hinkson
We need to produce food.
My first true commercial farm upgrade to aquaponics (AP) is complete, the first of many more as the commercial farmers are rushing to exploit the labor saving qualities of AP. This type of farming comfortably puts you in the .3 to .7 worker per acre range, amazingly, with no additional labour skill sets required. This reduction in labor is replaced with small, constant energy usage.
When upgrading, priority is to utilize materials from on-site, the aim is to keep this as simple and cost effective as possible. Most pioneering farmers have usable materials from past projects, check. I wouldn’t go as far as to advice on system design because all systems, programs and growers are unique; however experience and good system design when converting are crucial for the continuity of the farm.
As a long time consultant on all things aquaponic and farming in general there are certain dynamics I have become acutely aware of in regards to farm and farmer for a project to be a success. I have some important ones list out here.
Submitted by Damian Hinkson
Without the microbiology farmers will have to use more and more, chemical energy to get the same amount of produce.
If farming were easy we would all be doing it! after all Food is our most basic need. So it stands to reason that farming should be profitable. However that’s not the case. I will point out why using 3 points below and then explain one solution to make farming profitable in Barbados.
The following extract about Aquaponics submitted by Ready done
Aquaponic farming dates back to the Aztecs but due to the currently available combination of cheap plastics and Magnetic drive pumps it was recently re-discovered and improved upon as a viable organic farming method. The system is designed to hold fresh water fish in tanks, in conjunction with plants in large plant pots. Fast draining Coconut fibre is used as an alternative to soil for when the fish’s water is pumped through the plant pots. The coconut fibre act like a battery holding the manure as the plant’s roots uses it yet it constantly re-charges from the fresh fish waste in the water stream as it passes through. The raw fish waste is converted by natural bacterial process that results in completely fertilized plants and clean water for fish.
Our mission is to bring aquaponics to the masses, to have AP systems as common place as the refrigerator, which, though it seems far fetch at this time is possible because AP produces food while a fridge only stores it. Ongoing efforts to get households growing food using aquaponics has allowed us to position ourselves as market leaders in the small but rapidly growing Aquaponics community on the island. We have acquired an intimate knowledge of what the industry requires and are seeing a dramatic increase of interest in the system by vastly diverse groups of people.
Submitted by Ready done
Aquaponics is the food production system the world is upgrading to from conventional industrial farming. The major problem it solves is that potassium fertilizer taken from mines and used to help crops produces 40% more fruit. It has worked well for the last 100 years but it is a finite resource and will be exhausted soon enough. When it is gone we will see a 40% drop in food production. The world will be a changed place.
Aquaponics does for fertilizers what biofuel does for gasoline. It fast tracks the potassium cycle from taking 1000’s of years to form underground then to be extracted to mere weeks from fish food. Aquaponics in its simplest form is watering your potted plants with aquarium water and letting the water drain back into the aquarium. This plant/fish relationship held and controlled in manmade containers takes excellent care of both the fish and the plants because the fish manure contains nutrients which the plants use. This is good news for anyone wanting to grow food who has never kept fish. The water begins in the fish tank and drains back into the same fish tank therefore only what the plant needs is taken. The rest of the water goes back to the fish and when the plant uses up the fish waste the water gets clean so you don’t have to clean your aquarium no matter how much you feed the fish. The water is not allowed to get stagnate and is kept moving with a small pump to put in oxygen that is needed to keep plant roots and fish alive.
On all accounts Aquaponics is a better way to grow food domestically because this is a closed system and you have no losses to nature. Farmers currently have problems with heavy rain fall washing away fertilizer before plants can take advantage or in the dry season. They are not sure how much fertilizer to use because when it is dry the fertilizer doesn’t spread out enough creating hot spots which kill plants if new fertilizer is applied and the old one is not used up. The surrounding earth absorbs the water you put to your plants making very large water bills Aquaponics takes away all that guess work. And fish don’t need as much time and care as conventional pets. No taking for walks or washing down pens. Fish are also silent and don’t smell, they really are the least socially disruptive animal that can be domesticated and this is only made possible with recent advances in cheap plastics and low energy water pumps. This is probably why our culture never kept any tilapia even though we have advantages in our rain fall patterns because in the dry season we get enough rain to sustain the small needs of an Aquaponics system. We also have the constant temperature needed for optimal fish growth. This means Aquaponics should be a permanent fixture in your household income revenue stream the modern equivalent to a kitchen garden.
Submitted by Ready Done
‘6,889 early adopters of Aquaponics systems needed’
I got home yesterday and heard the unmistakable voice of my first crush Jacqueline Yvonne ‘Jackée’ Harry, there she was standing on that same step in a tight blue dress as curvy as l remember her. My daughter was watching the show 227, she likes the 80s era, as she puts it “ancient times”. This is the meaning of the information age. The generation X crew have a difficult time understanding how differently we accessed information. When I was her age 227 was after my bed time hour, My only opportunity to watch Jackée was on my visit to the bathroom, and I would walk as slowly as possible the ten foot distance to ogle Jackée.
I also ran home from school to watch Sesame Street. I had to fight sleep to watch X Files and Allo Allo. This generation knows nothing about waiting for information, the feeling of not having a conversation about last night’s TV show because you missed it is foreign to them . They get the news as it happens in detail, we only heard about bad car accident and saw a pic from a distance in the newspaper the next day. Our children get video of the accidents sometimes 5 minutes after it happens.
Submitted by Readydone
Gale and her family paid a visit to my farm at Bairds village recently. She was the usual type of visitor. She proceeded to share that she has done some research and is very interested in agriculture for food production at home. It is the usual type of thing I hear. Many people are curious about aquaponics and are surprised to find a working system in Barbados and always take the opportunity and visit. I always welcome, this particular visitor. Gale asked all the usual questions but when she asked – why is there not a culture of domestic food production in Barbados because we have very conducive weather , the answer hit me.
We have free garbage collection; it’s that simple, free disposal of all our organic waste means we throw away that valuable resource that should be used to make compost we are sending it straight to the landfills. Compost is the absolute key to every productive kitchen garden, it has the ability to sustain a large population of micro life forms in the soil, without it you get very poor results. When you sweep your house you sweep out dirt, it has all the constituents of soil yet you can sense it has no life and could not even grow elephant grass, then look at real soil, same materials but the micro heard is alive and active, so it sticks together, it holds water, and most importantly grows food. These microscopic critters take care of our plants root zone and provide the conditions that promote active plant growth.
Submitted by Ready Done
David Estwick, Minister of Agriculture
It is obvious by grouping farming with small business that the late Prime Minister David Thompson wanted us to elevate our current view of farming to a more business like model. With the help of our leaders we can quickly make this dream a reality, we only need some basic systems put in place to guide the agri-business sector.
To be successful any business needs up to date information about the market in which it operates to ensure the best possible plan/strategy is created. Being a small farmer myself – looking for information on Aquaponics in Barbados – I became painfully aware of the many factions of authority governing agriculture on the island. My efforts came up empty. I was frustrated at the large number of different agencies involved in the sector, and more so, how they operate completely independently of each other.