Partnership with Indoor Ag Con

The Aquaponics Association is proud to partner with Indoor Ag Con in support of their upcoming conference. Themed “Growing the Future,” the 2020 edition of Indoor Ag-Con will be the showplace for robotics, automation, AI, breaking technology trends and product innovation.

Aquaponics Association Board of Directors Member and Treasurer Claudia Andracki will join the full line-up of industry experts, thought leaders and executives leading programs across three tracks: Business; Science & Technology; and Alternative Crops. Ms. Andracki is the owner of Desert Bloom Eco Farm, a solar-powered farm one hour outside of Las Vegas.

Ms. Andracki will join the panel discussion “The Latest Developments In Aquaponics” on opening day, May 18 from 9 – 9:45 am. Click here for a sneak preview of confirmed speakers. Click here for a sneak preview of the conference schedule in development.

As part of the Aquaponics Association industry alliance with Indoor Ag-Con, Association Members can save
an additional $100 off the Early Bird registration rate for the upcoming May 18-20, 2020 edition at the Wynn Las Vegas, and save up to $400 off the regular full conference pass rate for the premier trade event for the indoor & vertical farming industry. Members, stay tuned for an email from us with the Promo Code.

As part of the partnership, Indoor Ag Con will become an Affiliate Member of the Aquaponics Association.

Click here to learn more about Indoor Ag Con.

Aquaponics Can Reduce Food Miles

By Brian Filipowich

Long travel distances for our food lead to excessive carbon use, energy use for refrigeration, food spoilage, nutrient depletion, and poorer food security.

Aquaponics – and other controlled-environment growing techniques like hydroponics and aeroponics – can greatly reduce the distance food travels from farm to plate.

For the first time ever, researchers recently attempted to map out the entire U.S. food supply chain. The resulting map, above, shows an intricate web of food moving across the country. The full report is public and can be found here: Food flows between counties of the United States (Lin, 2019)

The map illustrates that our food travels long distances before it reaches our plate. “Food miles” is the measurement that tracks the actual distance food travels from farm to plate.

“Studies estimate that processed food in the United States travels over 1,300 miles, and fresh produce travels over 1,500 miles, before being consumed.” (ATTRA, 2008)

One reason for high food miles is because most food requires a large amount of open land and arable soil, and requires a specific climate to be grown at a large scale. Only certain parts of the country meet this criteria, and these areas must transport food long distances to reach all U.S. consumers. The map to the right shows the nine counties in the U.S. (highlighted in red) from which most food originates.

But aquaponics – and other modern growing methods like hydroponics and aeroponics – are water-based and do not require large amounts of arable soil. Also, these modern growing methods are usually practiced in “controlled-environments” like greenhouses that maintain ideal growing environments for plants throughout the entire year.

Aquaponic systems that raise edible fish can further reduce food miles by cutting down on the distance needed to transport the animal protein in our diets. The demand for animal protein is expected to rise along with world population growth. But farms that raise beef, pork, and poultry need large tracts of land far from population centers. Conversely, aquaponics and other recirculating aquaculture operations can raise fish in urban or suburban areas. And, because fish have a much more efficient feed conversion ratio than land animals, less feed stock needs to be grown and shipped, further increasing efficiency.

To read more about food miles, see Food Miles, Background and Marketing from ATTRA.

One often-overlooked benefit of local food is greater food security. Our complex web of food is susceptible to systemic shocks such as weather or disaster events. In extreme cases, disruptions could make it difficult to get enough food to a certain population. A greater proportion of local food allows areas to be better-prepared in cases of unexpected events.

But, before we assume that all food miles are bad, more research is needed to measure the tradeoffs between local and long-distance. For instance, studies show that it’s often more efficient to import fruits from distant warmer climates than to heat a local greenhouse in the winter.

More needs to be done to evaluate, quantify, and account for the hidden costs of our food system, including food miles. Analytic tools such as True Cost Accounting, Cost-Benefit Analysis, and Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) create a more complete picture of the true cost of a product. LCA takes into account the costs of a product’s entire life cycle: production, processing, packaging, transport, use, and final disposal. LCA uses indicators not traditionally captured in a product’s market price, such as resource depletion, air and water pollution, biodiversity loss, human health impacts, and waste generation.

Analytic tools like LCA can uncover the true cost of shipping foods long distances and incentivize local agriculture. Aquaponic and hydroponic growers will benefit because – without the need for soil – they can get as close to consumers as possible. The result will be fresher food, less strain on the planet, and local economic growth!

 

Congress Funds Office of Urban & Innovative Agriculture

By Brian Filipowich

The new Office of Urban Agriculture and Innovative Production created by the 2018 Farm Bill had been sitting in limbo for the past year. The USDA declined to establish it without dedicated funding from Congress.

On December 20, 2019, the President signed into law H.R. 1865, The Further Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2020. The Law includes $5 million for the Office.

The Mission of the Office is to encourage and promote urban, indoor, and other emerging agricultural practices, including:

  • community gardens and farms located in urban areas, suburbs, and urban clusters;
  • rooftop farms, outdoor vertical production, and green walls;
  • indoor farms, greenhouses, and high-tech vertical technology farms; and
  • hydroponic, aeroponic, and aquaponic farm facilities.

The Office will disburse $10 million in grants before 2023 intended to “facilitate urban agricultural production, harvesting, transportation, and marketing.”

Senator Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) was the main sponsor of the new Office, and was responsible adding it to the 2018 Farm Bill. This past Fall, Senator Stabenow introduced an amendment to appropriate the $5 million to fund it.

The next step is to establish the Advisory Committee that will guide the establishment of the Office. The Committee is to be composed of 12 individuals from various sectors of the urban and innovative ag field.

The Farm Bill directed the establishment of the advisory committee by Summer, 2019. The USDA missed the target date because of the lack of funding and the USDA’s major relocation project from Washington, DC to Kansas City, MO, which “has resulted in catastrophic attrition at USDA’s top research agencies.”

Hopefully, with the new funding, the USDA can establish the Office soon.

Vendor Spotlight: The Aquaponic Source

The Aquaponic Source will be joining us in the Putting Out Fruits Vendor Showroom! Interested in a vendor table? Scroll down on the Putting Out Fruits Homepage.

About the Aquaponic Source:
Since 2009 Tawnya and JD Sawyer have been fully dedicated to practicing and teaching aquaponics. Through their business Colorado Aquaponics they have built and operated three community-focused aquaponics greenhouses – Flourish Farms in Arvada (3,000sq ft), the GrowHaus (3,000sq ft) and the Mental Health Center of Denver (5,000sq ft). After purchasing The Aquaponic Source in 2015, they expanded their team to provide a wide range of products, kit aquaponic systems, design and consulting services and various levels of training.

From Tawnya and JD: “We get the amazing opportunity to engage, inspire and empower home hobbiest, community leaders, faith based organizations, schools and farmers everyday. Our Mission is to provide people and communities access to locally grown food and resilient farming solutions through education, demonstration, and innovation. Growing Food, Growing Minds, Growing Community!”

Take the Global Aquaponic Practitioner Survey

Click: Head to the Global Aquaponic Practitioner Survey

A group of researchers from the University of Washington on an international project – Cityfood – is running a global aquaponics survey.

This survey will provide researchers with real-world information about existing aquaponic systems and farms which define current practices. Using results from this survey, researchers aim to connect and empower aquaponic farmers, researchers and decision-makers.

The survey only takes 15-20 minutes to complete and will help researchers compile a report on the state of the field. As a participant, you will receive access to the report immediately after its release.

The Cityfood interdisciplinary team of aquaculture specialists, architects, and urban planners is jointly supported by the US National Science Foundation and the EU Sustainable Urbanisation Global Initiative/ Belmont Forum. This cohort sees aquaponics as a promising technology that can simultaneously address global challenges in the food, water, and energy sectors.

Survey link: https://redcap.csde.washington.edu/surveys/index.php?s=FRK4HKX78L

New Aquaponics Report from ATTRA

ATTRA just published a report: Aquaponics – Multitrophic Systems for Food Production. This Report introduces aquaponic systems, discusses economics and getting started, and includes an extensive list of resources that point the reader to print and online educational materials for further technical assistance. The Report is free to download here: http://bit.ly/2UckGKf

ATTRA is a sustainable agriculture program developed and managed by the National Center for Appropriate Technology.

Aquaponics Association Chairman Brian Filipowich was interviewed by author Lee Rinehart to give background information for the Report. Check out the podcast recording: http://bit.ly/2Fgh1lW

YOU are the next great aqua-pioneer!

The Putting Up Shoots conference is coming up this September 21-23 in Hartford, CT.

Last year in Portland, Oregon we caught two aquaponic trail-blazers – Murray Hallam and Nick Savidov – having a personal chat… probably about nitrification rates or Oreochromis niloticus.

Murray and Nick are back again this year, but we need YOU to make the conference truly special. We need a wide range of engaging sessions from all perspectives to make the most impact.

Click here to Submit a Presentation Proposal.

We have four contiguous learning tracks so there is room for everybody to share their aquaponics knowledge: Commercial Aquaponics; Community Aquaponics; STEM Aquaponics, and Aquaponics Research & Food Safety.

ALL digital presentations will be shared electronically to conference attendees and Association members, so your presentation will be put to good use and become part of our digital archive.

We’d love to learn from you this September!

 

Speaker Spotlight: Nick Savidov, Lethbridge College

The Development of the First Zero-Waste Food Production System Based on Aquaponics

Putting Up Shoots 2018 Conference Presentation

Aquaponics is an integrated fish and plant system that recirculates liquid fish effluent. However, while
research on aquaponics has grown, research into utilizing both liquid and solid waste is limited. In 2015,
Lethbridge College received a $2.1 M NSERC CCI-IE grant to advance commercial integrated fish and
plant systems. As part of this project, Lethbridge College developed a technology that is not only
capable of utilizing liquid fish effluent, but which can convert solid waste into soluble organic fertilizer
using an aerobic fermentation process. This technology is built on the success of prior research done by Alberta Agriculture scientists from 2005 to 2015. Utilization of both liquid and solid waste streams in aquaponics is a promising breakthrough for in-land aquaculture. Moreover, it establishes aquaponics as an example of true zero-waste technology in agriculture. This paper will discuss the potential of aerobic digestion along with the complete waste management process cycle in commercial aquaponics including dewatering, pre-filtration, micro-filtration and biofiltration components.

Aqua-nerds love graphs like this!

 

 

Ken Armstrong; Putting Up Shoots Speaker Spotlight

This September at the Putting Up Shoots conference, Ken Armstrong from Ouroboros Farms will talk about his experience on the front-lines of the aquaponics industry in his presentation, “The Future of Aquaponics Is Now”.

Ken will highlight the history of commercial aquaponics and the Aquaponics Association over the last 6+ years. He’ll also talk about the next frontier of industry growth, aquaponics business ideas, and the proven Ouroboros business model.
Participants will hear what it takes to run a commercial farm, how to approach restaurants, and more about the educational opportunities we provide in both aquaponics and general agricultural methods.
Ken is also interested in how we can all work together to ensure that aquaponics has a bight and profitable future… Teamwork!