Dear Andrew and Cathryn
I am completely delighted with my new system. Andrew (and Russell) thank you for travelling all the way from Adelaide to Cockatoo, Victoria for the install. I can safely say I have the finest Aquaponics setup in Cockatoo, perhaps even further afield! I thoroughly appreciate the highly professional and helpful pre-sales and order engagement process. And am thrilled with the quality of the system that you have installed for me. From the quality of the components through to the excellent design of water flow and overall system and the attention to detail in every respect – I couldn’t be happier. Thank you for taking the time to make this such a great experience and to create such a fantastic outcome. And it was a delight to host you both. And to draw on your substantial knowledge and experience Andrew. Invaluable time. Thank you.
leading the way in implementing dedicated aquaculture management legislation as well as pioneering training in aquaponic systems for commercial use.By Christine Brown-Paul. In South Australia’s lush Riverland region, one grower has plans to use his business to
help at-risk Indigenous youth learn about aquaponics.A conversation with South Australian aquaponics grower, Dominic Smith, gives new insight into the phrase: giving back”. Himself a beneficiary of professional mentoring, Dominic runs Pundi Produce, an aquaponics operation at Monash in the Riverland and is keen to use his business as a platform to help train young Indigenous locals in the science of aquaponics, something that is close to his heart. Normally associated with citrus and stonefruit production, South Australia’s Riverland is rapidly becoming a new production centre for aquaponics. Besides offering easy access to water, the Riverland is ideal for aquaponic production thanks to its low pest and disease pressure. “I was first involved in aquaculture at Eurbra Agricultural High School and decided to move into aquaponics (a few years ago, building my system this year),” Dominic says. “I have received a lot of support and advice from my mentor, Andrew Dezsery, who is an (aquaculture and) aquaponics consultant. "I'd obviously like to expand the business and upgrade into the future, but I'd also like to go down the track of hiring troubled youth and trying to help guide them down the right track,” says Dominic who himself boasts Indigenous heritage,” he says. “Aquaponics combines fish farming and horticulture in a system combining the production of freshwater fish and hydroponic vegetables. It results in high yields and quality with low input costs and efficient water use.” Aquaponics uses water-saving recirculation technology – fish housed in tanks produce the fertiliser for the plants, the waste is filtered and pumped out to the plants to use the nutrients, the clean water then flows back through another filter to the fish tanks. At Pundi Produce, the system uses Central Irrigation Trust water straight from the River Murray. "For a traditional crop of vegetables at, say, Virginia, we'd be looking at 36,000 litres to grow $100 of produce," Andrew Dezsery says. "Hydroponics is 600L, whereas with aquaponics it's 175L because we're reticulating that water. It's been calculated out that we can grow 222 tonnes a hectare, which is absolutely mind-blowing. Recent findings show that, increasingly, produce from aquaponics systems is favoured by chefs and consumers looking for pesticide-free herbs and vegetables. “At Pundi Produce, we grow herbs and vegetables, such as coriander, basil and strawberries without using pesticides, herbicides and fertilisers,” Dominic says. Other crops include spring onions, bok choy and various lettuces. “Our customers prefer to eat produce that is fresh and healthy, not contaminated through pesticides.” In addition to selling direct to the public at Riverland farmers' markets, Dominic has been supplying home delivery service Riverland Fresh and local restaurants. He also adds value by selling pesto produced using his basil crop. "Dominic's already producing pesto, dried products and has received good reviews from chefs and supermarkets for the product," says Andrew. With Andrew’s help, Dominic first started his aquaponic operation with a 3000-litre tank of silver perch and a (15 meter by 14 meter) area of hydroponic tables (and beds). Three weeks after the fish were released into the tank, the first crop of herbs and vegetables were planted. "What's growing (Dominic’s) produce is basically a waste product of fish farming," Andrew says. "Normally, this would get disposed of using back flushing or water exchange methods because the nitrates become toxic but here, we're removing those toxins by recirculating water with plant production and producing food we can eat. "Eighty per cent of the cash flow comes out of the horticulture side, and that's run on our waste product,” he says. "We're recycling the nutrient all the time, we're not losing it. When we feed the fish, it's like putting fertiliser in, but in this case nature breaks it down and gives us the nutrient-filled water for plants and then biologically polished water back for the fish. "The food is delivered straight to the rootzone, and it's always there, so the plant can take up whatever nutrients it needs without waiting for a foliar based fertilizer application,” Andrew says.
Pioneering aquaponics training in AustraliaAndrew Dezsery has been involved in the (Aquaponic movement since 1996), and says more and more people are becoming aware of the benefits farming this way can provide. With a Masters Degree in Aquaculture Science and over (25) years experience in the aquaculture and fisheries industries, Andrew spent five years developing and running a successful pilot facility at Lewiston, South Australia with business colleague Dr. Neil Griffiths and technician Gavin Smith. The trio went on to further “value add” the integrated farming process of aquaponics by combining meat rabbit production utilising the wastage from the horticulture grown produce with commercial profitability. Once this project was completed he became involved in setting up a new project at Loxton in South Australia’s Riverland under the auspices of the Australian Government’s incentive, Caring for our Country and the Loxton to Bookpurnong Local Action Planning (LBLAP) Committee. Andrew designed and installed two commercial aquaponic facilities and has taught this new style of farming state-wide as well as to 30 selected participants from the local area at the Loxton training facility – one of them, Dominic Smith from Pundi Produce.Australia's first aquaponics training facility in Loxton S.A. taught these local growers how to develop sustainable farming practices and turn soluble fish waste into plant food, with a minimal amount of water use.The LBLAP Committee with the help of Andrew Dezsery and the South Australian Murray Darling Basin Natural Resource Management (SAMDBNRM) developed the project after a public meeting on aquaponics in 2008, which generated considerable interest. The committee's project manager, Craig Ferber, says it is a sustainable way to improve farming practices and biosecurity. "The desired outcome I suppose is to maximise the potential of the water," he said. "Obviously, that's a resource that's becoming more and more valuable. "With aquaponics, the only water lost is a bit of evaporation and what the plants actually utilise." Mr Ferber says it has plenty of benefits for the horticulture industry. "We're hopeful that there will be a take-up of this industry in the local area, that's part of the project to test this as a proof of concept, so we're in the throes of proving that and we're pretty confident it will do," he said. The public funded facility is now solely in control of a private farmer at the closure of the project in June 2013 and Andrew works as an extension officer, mentor and trainer furthering the benefits of this work in the Riverland region for the SAMDBNRM. A fishy tale Andrew Dezsery says that aquaculture grown species suitable for aquaponics include but are not limited to: Barramundi, Jade Perch, Murray Cod, Silver Perch, Golden Perch, Rainbow Trout, Yabbies and Redclaw in Queensland territories. “At Pundi Produce, we have Silver Perch and Rainbow Trout, which are hardy species,” Dominic says. The trout - which thrive in cool water - have been added into a second tank to keep water nutrient levels high as perch growth slows over winter. The fish will be harvested in eight to nine months.“As plant nutrients in aquaponics are obtained from food fed to fish, 10 of the 13 essential nutrients required for plant growth are delivered through fish waste,” Andrew says. “With some modification, a variety of Australian aquaculture species may be used in aquaponic production. Some will require different tank depths, shape and hydrodynamics. However, it is the protein efficiency and content of the feeds used in production that will dictate the production efficacies of integration into aquaponics. Protein requirements for Australian species are almost one-third higher than omnivorous species such as tilapia which, are grown in the USA based aquaponic systems,” Andrew says. “This provides, for the Australian farmer, a higher nutrient recovery for plant and horticulture production. Based on UVI data, Australian carnivorous native species require 40–55 grams of high protein fish feed per square metre for horticulture in a raft production system, whereas 60–100 grams are required for tilapia in the same system using low protein feeds. “As with marine aquaculture, it was not until marine algal and plankton species were identified and their production methods honed for green water culture, that the rapid onset of multi-marine species production and development took place. Consequently, more work needs to be done in understanding interactive beneficial bacteria and other micro flora and fauna for aquaponics,” he says. A viable option for the future Writing in Commercial Integrated Farming of Aquaculture and Horticulture, Andrew Dezsery believes that commercial aquaponics is now a viable option for farmers seeking to diversify into water efficient food production. He also says that aquaponics is gaining in popularity, particularly in the USA where farmers are looking for small commercial ventures to supplement their incomes. “Farmers have discovered that when comparisons are made between the costs of fish feed calculated and the cost of fertiliser, the additional available organic wastes made available from aquaponics can add significant value to their production input performance and ultimately, production outputs and savings,” Andrew says. “The integration of aquaculture and horticulture in the USA and Canada is targeted at the water consuming industry. Aquaponic production combining fish and horticulture is the most efficient means of operation. “The average raft culture system in commercial aquaponics use based on UVI methodology has a 110 cubic metre water holding capacity that can produce around 12 tonnes of food per year. Per acre, this extrapolates to around 90,000 kilograms of food production,” he says. “Not only are integrated aquaponic footprints more efficient compared to field crops, but plants grown in aquaponic systems tend to grow more rapidly, have ample water and nutrients, and enjoy a competitive weed-free environment. Consequently, aquaponic systems are small and cost efficient.” Andrew says that in Australia, aquaponics can be both environmentally sound and commercially viable, especially in a dry region such as South Australia. “Australia’s status as an environmentally friendly producer of aquatic food provides the domestic aquaculture sector with a significant comparative advantage in export markets. Quality assurance, accreditation policies and international standards have been developed by the industry sectors. Industry training is also well underway to ensure accreditation standards for aquaculture exports are maintained. Growth of the Australian aquaculture industry has been assisted by organisations such as the Cooperative Research Centres (CRC) and Fisheries Research and Development Corporation (FRDC) who have funded numerous collaborative research and development projects,” Andrew says. “If integrated inland aquaponic farming is to survive and prosper, existing and prospective industry participants will need to have access to appropriate training and professional development support. “In his opening address, Chair of the recent June 2014 World Aquaculture Conference in Adelaide, Graham Mair delivered the following thoughts on the growth of the aquaculture industry in South Australia: “The South Australian aquaculture industry is highly regarded around the world and is leading the way in implementing dedicated aquaculture management legislation. Sustainable aquaculture is acknowledged as the greatest opportunity to meet the demand in growth of the world’s future seafood needs. South Australia has in place good governance and procedures to regulate and facilitate the development of aquaculture industries. “The framework established by the South Australian Government and industry stakeholders ensures ecological sustainable development while providing certainty and opportunity for industry investment. “The industry has taken a cooperative approach to research, planning, management and environmental monitoring processes that are seeing the industry make significant inroads in international and domestic markets, with significant growth expected.”
"A friend was doing aquaponics and I learned how fantastic it was after 12 months of searching the internet and learning about aquaponics. Then another friend told me about a WEA course to be held on aquaponics. That's when I met Andrew Dezsery as he ran the course, it was his teaching that made me realize I knew very little. His course opened up my eyes a lot wider and gave me the true science of it all. I bought a book and the Aquaponics 101 interactive CD from him, which gave me an even more in depth understanding of Aquaponics. What I missed listening during the course I found it in depth on the DVD, it works very well and a great reference. I also learned Andrew supplied systems and eventually bought one of his smaller systems the Aquaorganic 780. They are brilliant and so easy to operate and maintain and I have raised silver perch and trout over a foot long. I am confident now and expanding and building a 6mx6m greenhouse and will be buying a larger family system of Andrew's design through 1Aquaponics. (In progress right now!) He gives you the highest quality, excellent service and it is all worth it. With Regards Geoff Gransbury"
Geoff has since purchased his Aquaorganic® 2000 NFT system and has turned his passion into a successful little enterprise, selling some high-grade produce to a local market.