Full Circle Aquaponics Demonstration Site

2012 Annual Report for FNC12-863

Project Type: Farmer/Rancher
Funds awarded in 2012: $7,500.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/2013
Region: North Central
State: Kansas
Project Coordinator:
Alice Hill
Beaver Creek Ranch

Full Circle Aquaponics Demonstration Site


Non-traditional greenhouse

The Full Circle Aquaponics Demonstration Site non-traditional greenhouse design was evaluated for a 24 foot X 24 foot building with Cleary Building Corporation (www.ClearyBuilding.com) and a contract signed August 2012. Priority details follow:
1. A pole-barn style greenhouse with the north and west sides and north roof covered with insulated metal rather than translucent material is a concept designed to minimize heat loss during winter months. The interior face of the metal panels are covered with insulating foil backed bubble wrap. A second layer with reflective/bubble bubble/white poly was applied creating an air space (www.farmtek.com) for improved insulative effect. An instant read laser thermometer was used to identify the need for the added layer.
2. Further insulation will be gained with a horizontal ‘ceiling’ of Aluminet (www.gemplers.com) suspended from cables which will cover each bay (8 feet X 24 feet) and that can be retracted as needed. This product holds in heat at night and shades during the summer to minimize heat build-up. This ‘ceiling’ will be at the height of the truss base or about 9 feet high.
3. The solar truss framing allowed a larger southern exposure with an east/west ridge line placed at the 16 foot and 8 foot point rather than centered. The east and south sides and half of the south roof are covered with Solexx (www.solexx.com)- a double wall 5mm product with an R-Value 2.30 and U-Value .43 to minimize heat loss and gain while allowing sufficient light for the planted portion of the aquaponics system. One half of the south roof along the west side is covered by insulated metal to provide shade for the fish tanks and an area for the drain back solar collectors (www.simpledrainback.com) to be mounted.
4. The exterior perimeter of the greenhouse has 2 inch polystyrene rigid insulation 4 feet X 8 feet sheets laid horizontally extending to 4 feet from the outer sill plate at a depth of 4 inches and covered with 6 inches of gravel.
5. The greenhouse was erected in under a week, utilizing an existing concrete pad that runs 10 feet wide along the full west side. This pad will support the four 50-gallon fish tanks, wash sink, counters, storage, etc. Heavy rubber stall mats 4 feet X 6 feet (www.orschelnfarmhome.com) were used to cover the concrete to insulate and cushion that area. The remaining floor houses the ‘heat sink’, a 22 foot X 12 foot pit 2 feet deep that was dug prior to the build. The pit had 2 inch polystyrene rigid insulation 4 foot X 8 foot sheets laid on the bottom and the sides lined with more of the same to create a contained bed. Backfill sand was spread to a depth of 2 inches and PEX-AL-PEX 1/2 inch X 300 feet was laid in a looping configuration with the ends extending out at the site of the water line and the Solar collector tank. The sand was leveled and surfaced with water resistant Hardibacker cement boards 3 feet X 5 feet. This heat storage system also contains 3 sensors at different locations and depths to record the effectiveness of the solar hydronic system.
6. The PEX-AL-PEX will also be used to run cold well water through during the summer months to help cool the building.
7. Aluminum shutters with thermostatic control were mounted in the east wall at just above ground level. A twin wall polycarbonate door 4 feet wide was centered in the east wall between the shutters. Two exhaust fans with thermostatic controls were mounted in the west upper gable area. (www.farmtek.com)
8. Insect netting around the intake shutters and a walk through screened interior door will minimize insect encroachment. (www.farmtek.com) Natural insect control methods will be used as needed.

The Home Garden system from Nelson and Pade, Inc. (www.aquaponics.com) was chosen for the FULL CIRCLE AQUAPONICS DEMONSTRATION SITE project. This size consists of four 50-gallon fish tanks designed to produce 120 tilapia annually in a sequential pattern with two stockings for each tank at 15 fish per tank and three 4 foot X 6 foot raft tanks for growing produce. Completing the system are four bio filter tanks including a clarifier, a mineralization tank and degassing tank along with an air blower and pump and a purge tank. The production of vegetables for this sized system is estimated at 2000 lettuce plants per year.
Fish will be obtained through White Brook Tilapia (www.tilapiasource.com) with a separate aquarium tank set up for breeding pairs (1 male to 3 females) to allow for sustainability.
Lettuce will be seeded weekly to allow for weekly harvests. Other fruiting crops such as tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers, etc. will be handled in a separate system once the initial system is fully operational.

Duckweed as supplemental fish food will be grown in a separate tank. Red wiggler worms from the compost system will be raised in a coir clean-out bed, Black Soldier Fly grubs and meal worms will be raised for fish food.

Water quality, fish health, feeding rates, plant production and temperature data will be documented daily.

The system arrived on January 2, 2013. The instruction manual is clear and easy to follow.
It will take approximately one week to put the system together.

The collector tubes, manifold and supporting framework were delivered on December 9, 2012. They will be held in storage until the company is able to install them. The tank, regulators and other integral parts will be set up by early spring. Data collecting sensors at three places and two depths will be used to monitor the change of temp in the heat sink. This data will be very important as no one has done this type of system in NW Kansas.

Once the non-traditional greenhouse was fully sealed we were able to evaluate its heat retention capabilities with no supplemental heat at all. Using a minimum/maximum thermometer that has inside and outside sensors we are seeing a steady 20 degree difference from outside temps. This internal difference is held both day and night. On clear days with full sun exposure there is a greater increase in interior temps.

We have found, using an instant read laser thermometer that there is too much heat loss through the metal siding with just a single layer of reflective bubble wrap. We will place a second, thicker layer with a dead air space to reduce this radiant loss and to prevent excessive heat during the summer months.

1. Place second layer of insulation on metal siding.
2. Place ‘ceiling’ of Aluminet over the three bays.
3. Complete website construction and begin advertising.
4. Install electrical routing once we have a clear footprint of the set up.
5. Set up solar electric panels.
6. Install all plumbing.
7. Connect solar hydronics system.
8. Assemble the aquaponics system and initiate test runs.
9. Establish data collection parameters.
10. Order first batch of tilapia fingerlings.
11. Begin planting schedule.
12. Work on perimeter landscaping.
13. Establish duckweed tank, black soldier fly colony and meal worm colony.

1. Contacted representatives of hydroponics, etc. at K-State, also formed a relationship with K-State Research and Experiment Station in Colby, KS.
2. Notified THE FURROW publication editor about the project with an invitation to consider us for a feature article.
3. Answered two inquiry e-mails based on the NCR-SARE Grant publicity from individuals in Arizona and Montana.
4. No field days or demonstrations scheduled at this date.

Aquaponics System

Nelson & Pade Home Garden system arrived 1-2-13.

Objectives/Performance Targets

Insulation of Metal Siding