by Amber

Expect An Increase in Aquaponics Farming

Fish farming in nothing new, but the traditional method requires in-ground ponds and acreage. Nor is it huge news that more farmers are getting into aquaponics. It is however newsworthy when large scale ag supply houses like FarmTek keep adding more and more soilless growing equipment to the catalog that arrives in farm mailboxes across the USA about 6 times a year. And as of the June 2013 issue, scalable aquaponics systems are part of the lineup that includes many farmy things. Having the fish and veg systems just a few pages past cattle tags, fodder tunnels, and electric fence operators will put this hydroponic growing technique more into the mainstream on family farms.

FarmTek also owns Growers’ Supply, their more nursery and greenhouse focused branch. Still a lot of what you find in one catalog is available in the other one too. If you’re growing anything for market, you’re definitely doing some form of farming. Prices are very competitive on both websites and in their print catalogs. The dive into aquaponics is proof that smart farmers are getting more in tune with soilless growing and more sustainable practices, and traditional agriculture is gearing up to march into the future. Sorry, I can’t tell you the cost of the system or their 125-gallon tanks… my June catalog hasn’t arrived yet  :o)

What you can grow in an aquaponics system continues to expand with new knowledge.With the introduction of their own brand of aquaponics system, you can bet that more indoor fish farming is coming to rural areas. FarmTek already has been offering CEA Schools on hydroponic growing, and has just introduced attendees to the wonders of aquaponics in May. The course was so well received they’re holding the same closed environment agriculture schooling in June. Fitting to coincide with the unveiling of their new indoor growing equipment that their very excited about. They’ve been growing Tilapia and Crayfish in their onsite greenhouses for a while now. The CEA School runs $995, includes 3 nights’ lodging and lunch for the intensive session, and the tuition is an automatic equal discount for the purchase of a hydroponic or aquaponic system. However, it looks like it might be booked up already because they’re showing August as the next available session to register for on the website.

Also coming in June is the 1st International Aquaponics Conference to be held at University of Wisconsin -Stevenspoint. In addition to the program planned the forming of the International Aquaponics Society is on the agenda, something a lot of aquaponics growers and those super interested in this form of indoor growing will not doubt want to attend.

Here’s the conference highlights:

  • The latest in aquaponic technology, methods and applications will be presented.
  • Experts in the aquaponics industry will share information about aquaponics and its varied uses that are feeding people around the world.
  • Applications and uses including commercial, education, mission and integrated systems will be discussed. Issues such as food safety, fish feeds and regulations will be addressed.
  • The Chef’s Demo will feature local chefs who will demonstrate a variety of ways to prepare aquaponically-grown fish and vegetables and conference attendees will get to sample the culinary creations.
  • Attendees will tour a 5,000 square foot aquaponic greenhouse.
  • An evening Wisconsin-style picnic will provide a great opportunity for attendees to socialize while getting to sample some of Wisconsin’s finest local products… cheese, brats (bratwurst) and beverages.
  • The International Aquaponic Society, a UWSP Foundation organization dedicated to aquaponics research and education, will be launched and the first organizational meeting will take place at the conference.

The cost of attending is $595 after May 15th, not including food and lodging. Conference dates are June 19-21, 2014.

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The garden played a starring role from spring through fall in the house Amber was raised in. She has decades of experience growing plants from seeds and cuttings in the plot and pots.