Aquaponics Mistake #1: Designing An Unusable Farm

Posted by Nate Storey on July 28, 2013

Aquaponics mistake #1: designing an unusable farm

Designing a hard-to-use farm is more of a mistake of inexperience than anything else. Many growers haven’t grown before (at least on a large scale) and they don’t think about work flow and efficiency.

That is, beginning growers don’t effectively use their available space to increase labor efficiency and lower labor costs in general.

Remember: labor is the largest variable cost of production on any farm - aquaponic or otherwise!

Because of this, they design systems that:

  1. Are hard to harvest
  2. Require lots of transplanting and tending work, and
  3. Make pest control difficult.

In the worst systems I've seen, access to important system components is limited, making the space not only difficult, but dangerous to use!

Using equipment that makes design convenient

We design systems that take harvesting, plant care, and pest control into account, using ZipGrow Towers to increase plant productivity, but also to help with access, reduce our post-harvest and labor costs and various marketing costs.

Of course, a huge part of designing a system that is both convenient and functional is planning.

Greenhouse Layout-5019

Planning ahead will save you headaches!

bib lettuce vertical farmingThink carefully from the start about how you will use your system, how you will harvest fish and produce alike, and how you can plan your system from the start to be user friendly and efficient.

Consider all of your variables, from growing needs (e.g. light, water, nutrients, pests, etc.) to user needs (access, convenience, automation, redundancy, etc.) from the start, and only start to design your system after you’ve seriously considered these variables.

Talking to established growers and touring their system designs can be a great help as well.

(You can check out folks who use our towers on our Upstart Farmers page!)

Be sure to ask questions and find out what they would do differently if designing their systems today.

Download the entire Top 10 Mistakes E-Book!

An E-Book for beginning aquaponic growers interested in large or commercial scale systems.

In this ebook I will detail problems that I have encountered again and again, both along my own learning curve as well as with systems that I’m called in to help build or fix.

These mistakes represent millions of dollars in lost investments and many failed aquaponic ventures.

It is important to consider all of these mistakes as you embark on your own aquaponic or small-farm adventure. Although this ebook is focused on aquaponic producers, some of the mistakes can be lessons for small farms and those looking to start farms as well.

So heed my advice and save yourself some time, money and heartache!

If you’re still confused by the end of it, shoot us an email and we’d be happy to try and help you figure your problem out.

Topics: Aquaponics

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