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.
Click to watch video (3m) – KickStarting a Permaculture school to teach people how to grow food, repair landscapes & build community.
See Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about the project
Dr. Chelston Brathwaite with Minister Estwick
“It has been reported that Barbados current food import bill is in the region of $800 million dollars annually. The Minister of Agriculture has also stated that 65 percent of our food is produced locally. This means we import 35 percent of our food. Our total food bill is therefore almost $2.3 billion dollars annually. This translates to over $20 per day for every man, woman and child. Note that this is the cost at the point of production (or importation) and not point of sale. The cost at point of sale (supermarket, shop, restaurant etc.) would be higher to account for storage and distribution, profit, spoilage etc. To get an idea of what this means lets look at a family of 4 shopping for all their food in a supermarket. This amounts to over $600 per week or $2400 per month.
I find this hard to believe. Either the $800 million dollars per year is incorrect or the 65 percent is incorrect. I tend to believe the 65 percent is incorrect and the Minister has the percentages reversed. In other words, we import 65 percent of our food. If this is correct we have a very long way to go towards food security.”
The above was submitted by Bentley where he raises the issue of food security which should concern all Barbadians. Although many Barbadians are indoctrinated and intoxicated by the benefits of globalization, a man made construct, BU subscribes to the position that a country is responsible for safeguarding its basic needs.
Relevant Link: CARDI Agriculture News
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.