Paul Nickerson

Posts Tagged ‘Aquaponics’

Press Cake Purge Valve

In Aquaponics on November 29, 2012 at 3:48 pm

This is a short clip on the operation and effectiveness of the recently installed purge valve on the aquaponic system at Messiah College. The valve is used to drain excess press cake waste from the supply manifold to reduce the amount of clogging problems we initially had in the system. The valve is working great!


Post-Harvest Update: Messiah College Aquaponics

In Aquaponics, Gardening, Propagation on November 26, 2012 at 4:23 pm

This is a quick overview of the system after we harvested the Thai Basil. The plants have begun growing new shoots and leaves. Cuttings that were placed in the rafted sump tank have rooted and will be ready to put in the gutter system. The cilantro is also doing great!

Drying Thai Basil

In Aquaponics, Gardening, Propagation on November 8, 2012 at 1:00 am

We recently harvested the Thai Basil from the system and are working on drying it in order to use it in the future. The flowers and leaves were spread out on large pieces of cardboard in front of the wood-stove. Hope-fully this method won’t take too long!

Harvesting Thai Basil: Messiah College Aquaponics

In Aquaponics, Gardening, Propagation on November 7, 2012 at 5:26 pm

So today we finally got around to harvesting the Thai basil from the gutter system. The plants had become very large and produced a very large crop. We harvested not only the leaves, but also the flowers. The stems will most likely be used for the production of Basil Jelly. We are planning to dry most of the crop for storage and future use; you can only use so much Thai Basil at once. The bases of each plant remain in the system and will sprout new branches and leaves shortly. Check it out!

New Purge Valve and Overflow Control

In Alternative Agriculture, Aquaponics on October 26, 2012 at 5:00 pm

Some recent modifications to the Aquaponic System due to the use of Sunflower Press Cake. We had some problems with lines clogging with seed casings and overflow issues due to a  new pump.

Aquaponic Crop Rotations

In Aquaponics, Gardening on September 13, 2012 at 10:11 pm

Since we erected the gutter system in the greenhouse, we have had a number of difficulties to overcome. One such problem that has arose is the fact that the shade cover only extends across half of the gutters, leaving the far side completely exposed.

The solution was simple. Crop rotations. One wonderful feature of the gutter system is that it is incredible modular. One the pump is turned off, the small supply lines can be removed, and each gutter can be moved as a unit. It was easiest to have one person stand on each end of the system and simply lift the gutters to swap locations. We moved all of the new seedlings to the inside, where they would be better protected, and relocated the larger plants outward where they would receive full sun.

Summer Recap: Aquaponics at Messiah College

In Aquaponics on August 25, 2012 at 8:56 pm

As students begin to gather again on campus, it is time to get the system up and running at full capacity so we can began determining crop output per unit fish. Over the summer the fish were fed a diet consisting entirely of sunflower press cake. All of the tilapia are still healthy, some are soon to be dinner.

During the summer the Gro-tech gutter system was taken offline for a short amount of time to be cleaned and re-caulked. It is recently been planted with Thai Basil seedlings. Small pieces of paper towel were used as wicks to keep the seeds moist until they developed sufficient root systems. This was done to combat the drying problem we faced last semester when planting lettuce in the system. (I’ll explain more about the wicks in another post).

Over the course of the summer we also noticed an increase in the amount of solid waste in the water. This is likely due to the nature of the press cake we are feeding the fish. We recently figured out a way to filter this out (which again, I will elaborate on at another time). We are also currently working on building a view box that will allow us to survey the bottom of the fish tank to determine how much food is not being consumed, but is building up in the tank.


Research Symposium Presentation

In Alternative Agriculture, Aquaponics on April 28, 2012 at 8:27 pm

Here is a copy of the presentation I gave at the Messiah College Research Symposium today. It was a ‘brief’ overview of the research we have been doing to establish a system that is fueled by sunflower seed press cake from the SunFlower-Power project on campus. You can’t quite make out the slides in the presentation due to the lighting.

WGAL News Feature on Messiah College Aquaponics

In Alternative Agriculture, Aquaponics on April 5, 2012 at 12:27 pm

WGAL Feature

System With GroTech Gutters!

In Alternative Agriculture, Aquaponics, Gardening on March 27, 2012 at 6:05 pm

The 300 Gallon system is currently located at Messiah College, Grantham PA. We recently plumbed in a 180 plant, GroTech gutter system into the main sump tank. After having worked through a number of the problems with integrating different style systems, it seems to be producing well. There have been some Iron deficiencies, but nothing that a bit of Chelated Iron couldn’t fix.

The fish gave birth again! The fry seem to be doing well.

We will be working to integrate SOMAT waste from the cafeteria, as well as poultry waste as an alternative diet. Research in that area should start at the end of this week! I’ll keep you all posted!

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