Thursday, 26 July 2018

Charlie Shultz Interview - Sustainable Controlled Environment Food Production

This is episode 23 of the Get in My Garden Podcast. Today we have another very special episode. The subject is Controlled Environment Agriculture. We meet Charlie Shultz, a researcher, farmer and teacher; a pioneer in the field of aquaponics and lead faculty in the very impressive Controlled Environment Agriculture Program at Santa Fe Community College.

Charlie began working with fish and plants as an undergraduate at Virginia Tech while double majoring in Biology and Fishery Science. His work has sent him to many locations including 14 years at the University of the Virgin Islands in St. Croix, U.S. Virgin Islands, where he researched indoor aquaponics production and its many facets from nutrition and system economics.

We will cover a lot of topics from aquaponics systems vs hydroponics, their economics, food security and water supply challenges the world faces, and how these controlled environment agriculture systems are the solution.

Tuesday, 10 July 2018

UN Warns of Overfishing as Per-Capita Consumption Hits All-time High

A new report from the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) shows that per capita fish consumption is above 20 kilograms a year for the first time. Almost a third of commercial fish stocks are now overharvested at biologically unsustainable levels. But the good news is that a growth in rapid aquaculture has helped on the supply side, but population growth and demand are still outpacing supply. This represents an opportunity for sustainable food productions systems like aquaponics.

Download the full report here

This chart shows the increasing rate of overfishing

This chart shows how aquaculture has made up the difference for the increasing demand

Wednesday, 20 June 2018

BC Government Sets 2022 Deadline For Open-Pen Fish Farms

The B.C. government will not cancel provincial tenures for 20 coastal open-pen fish farms, instead giving the industry and its thousands of jobs a four-year reprieve while the province waits for Ottawa to take the lead on the issue.

The NDP government has been pressuring fish farms to switch to closed land-based facilities, where there’s no risk to wild salmon. But the industry has said it’s not financially feasible. The province intends to encourage more research on land-based fish farms during the four-year transition.

Read more here (Vancouver Sun original source)

The Union of British Columbia Indian Chiefs (UBCIC) applauded the announcement in the following press release.

(Coast Salish Territory/Vancouver, B.C. – June 20, 2018) The UBCIC applauds today’s announcement as an initial step on the pathway to preserve and safeguard the future of wild salmon consistent with the rights, cultural practices and economic livelihoods of many First Nations throughout BC.

Today’s announcement recognizes the significant role wild salmon play in the cultures, lives and economies of First Nations peoples throughout the province. The province has begun to demonstrate its commitment to the implementation of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples by recognizing the authority of our Indigenous decision-making processes and our rights to grant or withhold our free, prior and informed consent to projects which impact our title and rights.

Chief Bob Chamberlin, Vice-President of the UBCIC, states “Open net-pen finfish aquaculture presents a very real threat to wild salmon, First Nations communities and to the economy of British Columbia. These new requirements, which necessitate industry-First Nations protocol agreements and which place the onus on salmon farmers to prove their operations present less than minimal risk to wild salmon populations, are years overdue. If wild salmon are to survive, this industry needs to move to on-land closed containment facilities.”

The UBCIC further supports the appointment of the new Wild Salmon Advisory Council, and awaits with great anticipation the Council’s final report and encourages the province to provide the necessary resources to ensure the report is enacted.

For many years the UBCIC has been mandated through resolutions to advocate for the removal of Atlantic salmon fish farms from our coast for the benefit of our wild salmon populations. In September of 2018, the UBCIC in partnership with the BCAFN will be hosting the 2018 Wild Salmon Summit to develop a First Nations designed province-wide strategy to safeguard this important species for future generations.

Media inquiries: Chief Bob Chamberlin, Vice-President, UBCIC
C: 778 988 9282

Tuesday, 5 June 2018

Aquaponics Workshop at Kwantlen Polytechnic University in Langley BC

KPU's Faculty of Science & Horticulture is offering an aquaponics workshop on June 23 on the Langley, BC campus.

Topics covered include:

  • How it Works: the science behind aquaponics
  • Overview: learn about the different kinds of systems from tabletop to commercial farms
  • System Design: best practices, sizing components, optimal ratios
  • System Cycling: starting up a new system without stressing your fish
  • Running a System: day to day operation including water quality testing, pH management, oxygen and other parameters
  • The Organisms: plants, fish, and bacteria
  • The Environment: greenhouses, lights, humidity, air quality, and growing indoors

Attendees will also be provided with an electronic package of resources that will help them continue their journey of learning and growing sustainably with aquaponics, as well as a Certificate of Completion from Kwantlen Polytechnic University.

Saturday, June 23 | 10am-1pm | KPU Langley Campus | $99 ppture is sponsoring an aquaponics workshop on June 23 on the Langley campus.

Click here for tickets

Pics of KPU Faculty of Science and Horticulture

Wednesday, 14 March 2018

Lethbridge College Aquaponics Workshop Mar 16-17, 2018

This course helps build on the aquaponics expertise and knowledge of those looking to get into, or already having their hands wet in these integrated plant production methods. The two-day Aquaponics Systems course is a refined and adapted course from our popular “Build Your Own Aquaponics System”, and will provide the foundational knowledge base on which you can successfully construct and operate your own aquaponics system for school, home or business. It will include topics such as seeding, fish handling, water quality, pest management, and system design and operation. Both courses provide a wealth of knowledge and ample opportunity to ask questions.

Tuition: $400
Registration closes March 15, 2018.

Tuesday, 27 February 2018

Organic Aquaculture Guidelines for Canada

The Canadian General Standards Board has published a guide for organic aquaculture production.

Organic production is a holistic system designed to optimize the productivity and fitness of diverse communities within the ecosystem, including soil, sediment and benthic organisms; crops; livestock and people. The principal goal of organic production is to develop operations that are sustainable and harmonious with the environment.

This standard describes the principles and management standards of organic production systems, and provides lists of substances that are allowed for use in organic production systems.

Organic production is based on the following general principles:
  • Principle of health – Organic production should sustain and enhance the health of water, soil, plants, animals, humans and the planet as one and indivisible.
  • Principle of ecology – Organic production should be based on living ecological systems and cycles, work with them, emulate them and help sustain them.
  • Principle of fairness – Organic production should build on relationships that ensure fairness with regard to the common environment and life opportunities.
  • Principle of care – Organic production should be managed in a precautionary and responsible manner to protect the health and well-being of current and future generations and the environment.
Click here for full document

Tuesday, 6 February 2018

New Commercial Aquaponics Book by Dr. Wilson Lennard Now Available

Wilson Lennard is an Australian scientist with a PhD in Applied Biology. His thesis topic focused on the optimisation of commercial aquaponics systems. Dr. Lennard also has over 16 years of experience in the aquaponics industry. Here is a section from his preface that describes the purpose and focus of the book.

The purpose of this book therefore, is to not repeat the knowledge that is already available for standard, tank-based fish production (RAS) or standard hydroponic plant culture in detail, but to rather concentrate on the requirements of the integration process so as to produce the most efficient and optimised aquaponics designs and management methods available. This book wont therefore, go into upper level design and engineering aspects of the fish or plant culturing components of the aquaponic system design process. More detailed information may be found in other, excellent references and resources related to stand-alone RAS fish culture and stand-alone hydroponic plant culture. This book will concentrate on the application of science and engineering principals to the integration of these two existing technologies in a number of ways that meet the ultimate aquaponic outcome; the efficient and optimized use of the nutrient resources (i.e. fish feed) added to the system.

This book will also consider many of the satellite technologies associated with aquaponics, such as greenhouses, lighting, etc. However, and again, there are many excellent resources already available for these requirements, all of which go into far more exacting and complex detail than this book could attempt to do. Therefore, while these other technologies will be considered, it is more the purpose of this book to concentrate on the integration principles associated with fish and plant culture and so these other technologies are better served by trying to provide a list of appropriate external resources.

We hope to provide more details after we get our copy. You can purchase the book here.

Friday, 2 February 2018

Aquaponic Nutrients and the impact on Plant Production

Boris Delaide (University of Liège, BE) gave a presentation of his recent study of nutrients in aquaponics and their impact on lettuce production. Here are some key takeaways.

Aquaponics has a much lower level of nutrients than a typical hydroponic system, yet produces the same amount of lettuce

Most of the nutrient was lost due to the water changes and the sludge removal (solid fish waste removed from the system). Aquaponic systems need to take advantage of the nutrients locked in the sludge. Adding a digester to mineralize the solids is a good place to start.
Despite all of this, Aquaponics is as productive as an optimized hydroponic system with a much higher concentration of nutrients. This echoes the findings of others such as Nick Savidov.

His hypothesis is that aquaponics performs as well as hydroponics despite having less nutrients because of the microflora in the rhizosphere which help the roots in absorbing nutrients more efficiently. The second reason may be the dissolved organic matter may be feeding the plants directly or promoting the uptake of nutrients.
He also found that if the nutrients in the aquaponic system were supplemented so that they were equivalent to the hydroponic system, the plants would grow at a much faster rate than the hydroponic system.

Aquaponic solution supplemented with nutrients equalling what would be found in a typical hydroponic system, produced 39% more plant mass than the hydroponic system. This is due to the more efficient uptake of nutrients in the aquaponic solution.
Finally, he looked at different methods of digesting the sludge to release the nutrients that were locked in the solids. More work needs to be done in this area, but it is promising.

Here is the full presentation:

Download the study here

Wednesday, 24 January 2018

Aquaponics used to grow marijuana in former pulp mill in Nova Scotia

A Nova Scotia company will soon begin growing cannabis in a former pulp and paper mill in Queens County, and hopes the buy-local ethos extends to marijuana.

Health Canada granted Aqualitas Inc.'s cultivation licence Jan. 19, making it the third Nova Scotia company to get the approval — joining Breathing Green Solutions Inc., which has a production facility in the Wentworth Valley, and THC Dispensaries Inc. of Antigonish.

Myrna Gillis, co-founder and CEO, said Aqualitas plans to start growing its first crop in February and then it will test it and apply for a sales licence, with the hope of selling cannabis this summer. So far, none of the three Nova Scotia companies are licensed to sell.

As an early player in one of the largest per capita cannabis markets in Canada, Aqualitas aims to have all-natural, aquaponically-grown cannabis ready for market by this summer. The facility’s annual growth at capacity is projected at 9,000 kg and expansion into a further 20 acres beginning this June will move it towards its goal of becoming the largest licensed producer of all-natural cannabis in Canada.

Aqualitas has renovated a former Bowater warehouse in Liverpool, N.S., and has turned it into a 70,000-square-foot production facility. (Emma Smith/CBC)
Investors have also placed tremendous confidence in the company’s technological innovations, environmental values and most importantly, its team. Aqualitas recently closed an over-subscribed offering of common shares for total gross proceeds in excess of $8.8 million CAD.

Monday, 22 January 2018

UVI Aquaponics System Overview

This video put together by Jason Danaher and the Southern Regional Aquaculture Center (SRAC) the aquaponics system that served as the model for most of today's aquaponic systems.

Thursday, 4 January 2018

The State Of Indoor Farming

The Agrilyst report looks at emerging trends, challenges and benefits of farming indoors. This year's report shows some interesting trends.

There is a growing number of indoor vertical farms since 2012.

Leafy greens remain the most popular crop.

Greenhouses have higher yields per area and are more profitable than vertical or container farms.

Aquaponics is the most profitable indoor growing technique among those surveyed!

The most significant operating cost in Aquaponics remains labour.

Tuesday, 28 November 2017

Aquaponic Cannabis Production in Puslinch Ontario

Here is an update on an Aquaponics Canabis producer we have written about in the past.

PUSLINCH, ON, Nov. 27, 2017 /CNW/ - Green Relief, a licensed producer under Health Canada's Access to Cannabis for Medical Purposes Regulations (ACMPR), has officially unveiled their company-wide rebrand, which also includes social media platforms as well as their website.

Green Relief was founded in 2013 by Warren Bravo, Lyn Bravo, and Steve LeBlanc on the principles of sustainability, social responsibility, and research, something that is reflected heavily in Green Relief's new brand image.

"Rebranding our company was a very personal decision," said Green Relief CEO Warren Bravo. "With legalization looming, it was imperative that our image better reflected our unwavering commitment to cannabis as medicine while simultaneously highlighting our passion for sustainability."

Green Relief wants to ensure that people are not only aware of the quality, consistency and safety of their medical cannabis but also the importance of giving back to the community and taking care of our planet.

The new concept visually combines the seven veins of the cannabis leaf, enclosed in a geometric interpretation of a water drop. The bright green is an ode to growth, vibrancy and health, while the darker blue-green grounds the identity system and is symbolic of the relationship between water and plant growth. The stylized water drop to represent Green Relief's unique aquaponic growing method. The fusion of the two visual symbols pays homage to Green Relief as the only grower of its kind.

Green Relief is the only medical cannabis provider in the world that's producing by way of aquaponics, where fish and plants grow in a natural ecosystem environment that uses 90% less water than conventional agriculture. It is considered to be the most innovative and sustainable form of agriculture. Green Relief raises tilapia in their aquaponics system and they are fed organic high quality feed resulting in an excellent source of lean, healthy animal protein for consumption. Under their current setup, Green Relief donates anywhere from 300-340 fish every four weeks to local shelters, once the fish reach market weight.

Green Relief works tirelessly to carry out one important mission: helping their patients improve their quality of life. They are also striving to further the science of medical cannabis through research and using cannabis to advance sustainable agriculture around the world.

To check out Green Relief's brand new website, visit You can also visit them on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram @GreenReliefLP.

Original Source

Thursday, 9 November 2017

Full Spectrum LED Plant Lights

Purple LED Lights

Full Spectrum LED Lights
Plant lighting technology continues to advance at a rapid pace. High Intensity Discharge (HID) lamps are still the most commonly used light in commercial growing operations because they are tried and true. But HID lights generate a lot of heat and are not the most energy efficient.

Light-emitting diodes (LED) are attractive because they do not require ballasts and they do not emit as much heat so can be placed close to crop surfaces. They can also be placed in an array, and the hue can be controlled by varying the intensity of individual colours of LEDs. Initially, manufactures targeted the red and blue spectrums of light because it was thought to be more efficient to put the energy into the wavelengths that are absorbed the most.
Red and Blue light are absorbed the most by Chlorophyll
But plants benefit from the full photosynthetic spectrum (400-700 nm). Green light for example, once thought not necessary for plants, penetrates through thick top canopies to support the leaves in the lower canopy (leaves are green because they reflect and transmit green light). The more natural full spectrum also encourages photorespiration, causing plants to consume more nutrients.

Full spectrum LED lights are now available at very reasonable prices making them the go to choice for many growers. NASA for example determined that LED lights are the best single source of light for growing plants.

Other Common Plant Lights
HID - Pros: high penetration, full spectrum (HPS and MH); Cons: high heat and energy use, requires ballast
Florescent - Pros: low initial cost, low energy use, low heat; Cons: performance decay over time, low penetration, requires ballast
Induction or Plamsa - Pros: long life, no performance decay, lower heat; Cons: expensive, requires ballast