Guest post by ECO Films.
New DVD coming out soon.
We’re proud to announce in collaboration with Murray Hallam a new instructional DVD we’re currently editing on small scale commercial aquaponics called “Aquaponics for Profit” which should be out later this year.
There are two main types of aquaponics systems, floating raft and gravel bed media systems. Combing the two has always been fraught with some difficulty with the way the plumbing and engineering is designed. Additionally, the balancing of nutrient distribution for the raft and media sections to ensure the different plant types nutrient needs are met. Floating raft systems operate on continual flow, meaning the water recirculates through the system on consistent basis. Gravel grow-bed media systems are often run on a “flood and drain” method using auto-siphons and even timers to drain the water from the beds at intervals and regularly dump the water into the fish tank or sump.
For many people combining the two methods was always a problem. Some people use more than one pump to split the systems into two. Murray Hallam says he’s figured out a way to solve the issue elegantly with a new aquaponics method to combine both systems that he calls FloMedia.
Hidden inside two new greenhouses on his property in Brisbane, Australia Murray has been building his FloMedia Aquaponics system. The whole system has been cleverly designed to run off one small pump.
Operating costs and less for the growers and nutrient supply to the plants is increased because of the addition of gravel media bed systems that store a lot of the nutrient.
The media component becomes a very efficient nutrient bank.
This new approach will allow small scale growers interested in marketing their produce the ability to grow just about any crop they want. In the past floating raft works best with leafy greens such as lettuce and herbs such as basil. With the addition of gravel media, the option to grow climbing plants such as tomatoes and heavy nitrogen feeders are now possible, even fruit trees can be grown.
Murray is a true innovator.
When we arrived with our cameras, Murray appeared out of his main green house looking like he had just climbed out of a chimney flue, looking a bit like Santa Claus minus his red suit but covered in soot.
He seemed quite upset because his new greenhouse rocket powered fuel heater was burning timber at too fast a rate.
Murray was sure if done correctly the heater should work all night rather than the hour and a half as he was getting from his invention at the moment. He was adamant that he would crack it eventually and be able to grow warm water fish all year round through our mild winters.
He led us into his two new hoop greenhouses that will be the basis for his FloMedia setup. Along one side at waist level were his new gravel grow-beds. A row of different tomato species were pumping out various tomatoes. Murray informed us that he was trialling new varieties of tomatoes to find out which sort grows best in his climate.
Coming back from the US where he taught two back to back workshops in commercial aquaponics and speaking with restauranteurs and chefs, it became apparent that there was a demand in boutique produce that could be grown exclusively for a small client base.
Murray felt that aquaponics could fill that niche market in securing a premium price for a premium product. Not all plants will grow in your local environment he tells us and trialing a range of produce before you launch your brand requires discipline and perseverance.
Murray is big on seed-saving. He says he learnt a lot from listening to Penn and Cord Parmenter’s techniques in growing food at high altitude in the mountains of Colorado. Their innovative use of passive solar greenhouses made a big impression on him when it comes to selecting plants for their seeds and over 3 to 5 generations building your seed bank to increase the quality of your produce.
Murray explains his FloMedia setup. A jangle of pipes lead to a big sump. “This is the melting pot of the system.” he says enthusiastically as he explains how the water is distributed.
“Its just one small pump that runs all this.” he waves to the other greenhouse, “We’ll soon have this whole system hooked up to FloMedia.”
Murray has all his floating raft and gravel media bed system at waist level. Most people place them on the ground to keep construction costs down.
Why raise all the beds we ask?
Murray reply’s “Have you ever tried gardening on your knees?”
“Its back-breaking work.” he says.
“I build systems that are comfortable to work in. The only negative thing is that you need a step ladder to harvest all the tomatoes!”
So how much of this system will be explained in his new DVD?
“The lot.” he says. “I’ll show you every step. How the plumbing is set up. How I’ve organized FloMedia to work successfully. How all the tanks are setup and how the nutrient is processed and distributed. How to build the grow-beds inexpensively out of timber. How to line the beds with food grade plastic. How to make the floating rafts. How to start grow seedlings. All the dimensions will be on a pdf file. We’ll cover marketing and you’ll even see me harvesting and selling the produce and sharing the cost benefit analysis.” he says.
How big a system you intend to make is based on your budget and how quickly you want to expand your system.
Murray is a firm believer in localized food production. This DVD is well suited to anyone interested in building their own a small scale aquaponics system on either their farm or small rural acreage who are interested in providing clean fresh healthy food to their local community.
We don’t like to repeat the same information in our DVDs so if you are new to aquaponics and want to get started in a small scale commercial system, it is imperative that you understand the basics first before purchasing this DVD title.
As usual in our DVDs, we try to pack a lot of detail into them with lots of tips and great examples how to get the most out of your system.
The “Aquaponics for Profit” DVD will be out later in the year.