Aquaponics in Cold Climates? How Does That Work?
- by Colle and Phyllis Davis
Is a year-round Portable Farms Aquaponics System possible and feasible in climates much colder than San Diego, California?
- Short answer: “Yes.”
- Long answer: “When placed inside a climatically adapted greenhouse or other structure especially when using supplemental lighting (we recommend Inda-Gro lighting), a year round garden/farm is entirely possible and will eventually/quickly pay for itself in cold climates.” . Email us for a price quote for your installation.
The key to success in cooler climates is to build a structure that can maintain an interior temperature between 40° and 104° F. (4.0° and 40° C.) It is far easier to warm a building a few degrees than it is to cool the interior temperature from outside temperatures of over 100° (40° C) F down to the required ‘comfort zone’ for the plants. Plants function best at a leaf temperature of 73° F. To grow in a heated space of over 90° requires the plants to pump more water through their pores to maintain turgor pressure or turgidity so they don’t wilt. This requires energy and the plants will eventually simply wilt to stay alive.
For a successful PFAS installation to be installed in cold climates start by insulating the entire north wall and most of the north roof, insulating most of the east and west walls and insulating the first four feet of the south-facing wall to reduce the heating cost dramatically. Those surfaces do not have to be transparent and can be constructed with several inches of insulation. Supplemental heating can be as simple as several small space heaters placed near the floor. More elaborate gas heaters can also be used and will prevent any area of the structure from dipping below 40°or possibly freezing. We can assist you in designing your cold climate installation or any climate installation.
The water in the fish tanks and the gravel in the Grow Trays are huge ‘heat sinks’ and they can be used effectively to bring the heat up in the structure to a minimum operating temperature by simply cycling the system at the coldest time of the night. This is added protection for the system. It does require either electrical power for the heaters or some type of heat to keep the fish tanks warm.
The fish are going to be delighted at all times because they have heated water in their insulated fish tanks. Each Fish Tank is insulated and heated to a balmy 78° to 80° F no matter what the outside or inside temperature happens to be at any moment.
Cooler temperatures inside the structure favor many kinds of greens so a temperature near human comfort level in ideal for many plants. Tomatoes will not set fruit if the temperature goes below 60° for even a few minutes each day. Some lettuces will not grow at all when temperatures go above 95° at any time.
The aim is to have the interior of the structure remain within the range required by the plants being grown. If you are growing only greens, you can allow the temperature to go as low as the high 40′s° at night. If you are growing tomatoes you will need to insure the temperature never goes below 60° at any time. With these very low temperature requirements, the cost of supplemental heating is dramatically lower than in ‘hot’ houses which keep the temperature in the high 70′s.
Supplemental lighting is also highly recommended. Extending the day length four hours will increase the yield from 20 to 30% and speed up harvest times. Again, we strongly recommend Inda-Gro Induction Grow Lights for this task. These lighting systems are initially an added expense, but the ROI is less than the ROI on the PFAS installation itself! You will never be disappointed in their performance. Email us for a price quote for your installation.
The Portable Farms Aquaponics Systems can be successfully operated in any climate. The plants do require being inside a climatically adapted structure and that is determined by the greenhouse manufacturer or the consulting company in charge of the site.
Really cold climates require much more attention to the details of keeping the interior warm enough for the plants, but the rewards to the operator are the best food available anywhere in the world and grown right there on location in a Portable Farms Aquaponics System.
Contact Portable Farms Ltd today to see how you can now have that year round food supply at your doorstep.