WisconsinAquaculture.com - Growing plants sans soil: Workshop focuses on hydroponic, aquaponic production
FIND a WAA Fish Farmer FIND a FISH FARMER   My Shopping Cart MY Shopping Bag   Contact Us Contact
Growing plants sans soil: Workshop focuses on hydroponic, aquaponic production

Posted: Monday, November 17, 2014 10:57 am

By Jim Massey, Editor | jimmassey@mhtc.net | 0 comments

DYERSVILLE, Iowa — Jim Sul­li­van be­lieves hy­dro­ponic and aquaponic green­houses might be the wave of the fu­ture as more peo­ple try to grow the food they need or make a liv­ing off of a small piece of land.

Sul­li­van, a farmer from Fort Davis, Texas, was one of about 40 peo­ple who at­tended a three-day work­shop from Nov. 11-13 to dis­cuss tech­niques in con­trolled-en­vi­ron­ment agri­cul­ture.

The CEA school was of­fered by Far­mTek, a man­u­fac­turer and dis­trib­u­tor of CEA sys­tems and more than 30,000 prod­ucts to sup­port those sys­tems and other agri­cul­tural pro­duc­tion, at the com­pany’s man­u­fac­tur­ing and dis­tri­bu­tion cam­pus in Dy­ersville, Iowa.

Dur­ing the work­shop, par­tic­i­pants learned how to grow veg­eta­bles with hy­dro­ponic sys­tems; how to pro­duce mar­ketable fish and plants us­ing an aquaponic sys­tem; and how to set up a fod­der-pro­duc­tion sys­tem to pro­duce feed for live­stock and poul­try.

Far­mTek Gen­eral Man­ager Martina Bock­en­st­edt said CEA sys­tems can be used by small-scale hobby farm­ers and grow­ers, mid-sized fam­ily farms as well as large-scale com­mer­cial op­er­a­tions.

Some cities around the globe are build­ing CEA sys­tems “to put the source of food at the source of con­sump­tion.”

Far­mTek Hy­dro­pon­ics Man­ager Matt Kis­pert said soil isn’t nec­es­sary to sup­ply ev­ery­thing plants need to be pro­duc­tive.

“It’s eas­ier to spot is­sues if you’re con­trol­ling all as­pects of the grow­ing en­vi­ron­ment,” Kis­pert said. “You can max­i­mize your pro­duc­tion per square foot, min­i­mize the amount of wa­ter you’re us­ing by re­cy­cling and re­duce la­bor costs.”

Sul­li­van said he’s been in­volved in pro­duc­tion agri­cul­ture for 35 years, but he be­lieves a dif­fer­ent model makes sense for the fu­ture.

“Each fam­ily could have a lit­tle 10-by-10 (foot) highly pro­duc­tive veg­etable crop,” he said. “Back in the day that’s the way farm­ing was.

“To row things at the ranch the way we used to grow things, it’s not cost ef­fec­tive. We’ve got lots of sun and wind and at times of the year it freezes. In a con­trolled en­vi­ron­ment, you can main­tain con­sis­tent con­di­tions.”

Sul­li­van said he be­gan think­ing about im­ple­ment­ing a CEA sys­tem as his two sons headed off to col­lege.

“A 12-by-12 ta­ble in a spare bed­room in an apart­ment could pro­duce $500 to $700 a month for a kid to sub­si­dize col­lege,” he said. “It makes sense.”

Work­shop par­tic­i­pants came from as far away as Is­rael, Hawaii, Ne­vada and Ari­zona as well as from sev­eral Mid­west­ern states.

Wayne Hass of Eden in Fond du Lac County said he has a 30-by-48-foot green­house in which he grows or­ganic kale, chard, beets, car­rots, let­tuce and other veg­eta­bles. He came to the work­shop to learn more about how to ef­fec­tively man­age his sys­tem.

“I’m try­ing to fig­ure out how to ex­tend the (grow­ing) sea­son later into the fall and get it started ear­lier in the spring,” he said. “I’m try­ing to get my pro­duce into a restau­rant that has just started up, so I want to pro­vide a con­stant food source for them.”

Hass also grows pop­corn on his farm.

Ron Sweigert said he bought a 20-acre farm near Stur­geon Bay about a year and a half ago and is try­ing to get it geared up for food pro­duc­tion for the spring of 2015.

“I’ll have some chick­ens, rab­bits and goats, and I’m look­ing at grow­ing veg­eta­bles in a green­house along the side,” he said.

Sweigert bought a green­house from Far­mTek and will be get­ting it erected next spring. Mean­while, he has been busy re­hab­bing the 1896 barn on the prop­erty.

“It’s a great tourist area — we’re just a half-mile off of (state) High­way 42 (in south­ern Door County),” Sweigert said. “We plan to get some sig­nage out there to bring in the peo­ple who are pass­ing by.”

Far­mTek Green­house Spe­cial­ist Gabe Smutz showed work­shop par­tic­i­pants the com­pany’s aquapon­ics green­house in which tilapia grow along with basil, kale and let­tuce.

“The mon­ey­maker in the sys­tem is the plants,” Smutz said.

Grow­ing let­tuce in an aquaponic or hy­dro­ponic sys­tem can be “90 per­cent more ef­fi­cient than grow­ing it in soil,” he said.

Far­mTek’s cor­po­rate head­quar­ters are in South Wind­sor, Conn., while Dy­ersville is the site of the com­pany’s man­u­fac­tur­ing and dis­tri­bu­tion cen­ter. The Dy­ersville lo­ca­tion also has a re­tail out­let.The com­pany em­ploys about 250 peo­ple.

About 500 stu­dents have par­tic­i­pated in Far­mTek’s CEA work­shops since 2012, Bock­en­st­edt said.

“Our two cam­puses are equipped with our CEA prod­ucts and we want to help ed­u­cate oth­ers how to use them,” she said.

 

  .: More Other Aquaculture Articles :.  
[ Return ] to previous page.
WisconsinAquaculture.com - Growing plants sans soil: Workshop focuses on hydroponic, aquaponic production
WisconsinAquaculture.com - Growing plants sans soil: Workshop focuses on hydroponic, aquaponic production
Shop NOW!
WisconsinAquaculture.com - Growing plants sans soil: Workshop focuses on hydroponic, aquaponic production
•   Events & Seminars  • Literature and Posters  • Clothing  • DVD  • WAA Membership  • Advertising  •
WisconsinAquaculture.com - Growing plants sans soil: Workshop focuses on hydroponic, aquaponic production
 
Accepted Here
We Accept Visa
Visa
We Accept MasterCard
MasterCard
We Accept Discover
Discover
 
^ Top Of Page ^
 

 


WisconsinAquaculture.com Powered By Adobe ColdFusion