Do you want to start aquaponics farming? Find here a detailed plan guide on starting an aquaponics farming business with training, production process, tools, legalities, and much more.
With the beginning of the new decade, you must be looking for a business that has a bright future. If you want to start a farming business from your backyard, aquaponics farming can be a good option.
Though the startup cost of setting up an aquaponics farm is high, the maintenance expenses are rather low. This type of farming allows you to grow vegetables along with fish in the same space. You do not need fertilizers, no soil, and still get organic vegetables for sale.
Aquaponics Farming Business Plan for Beginners
1. Get Trained In Aquaponics Farming
Aquaponics Farming Business is a profitable and healthy business. But you need to do some research before starting the business. To know the details of the farming process required things, apparatus, and steps to follow, points of caution to be adopted you need a proper training course.
There are many training modules which give you written instructions as well as DVDs so that you can see the different aspects of the farming process.
2. Do your Market Research
Before starting your Aquaponics Farming Business, do very good research on how to set up and manage the Farm. Take the help of an internet search and meet the local farmers.
To know the Government formalities visit your State’s agriculture and fishery department.
It is very important to choose a proper location for your Aquaponics Farming Business. Try to select an area that is neither too hot nor too cold and there are no harmful chemicals.
Take the help of an Aquaponics specialist in setting up your system.
3. Create a Business Plan
It is extremely important to write a business plan for your aquaponics farm. If needed, take help from professional business plan writers. If you are starting on a small scale, some of the topics that must be addressed are mentioned below:
- Initial and recurring costs
- Target customers
- Pricing strategy
- Manpower plan
- How do you plan to promote your aquafarm products?
4. Legal Requirement
Register your Aquaponics Farming Business. Every country and state provides different types of business formations as per the scale of operation. Talk to the local competent authority and select the one that fits you best. Additionally, procure appropriate licenses and permits to start and run an aquaponics business, if required.
Take the help of a qualified accounts specialist for the business and accounting details. Also, take the help of marketing analysts who will chalk out your marketing strategies.
5. Name your Aquaponics Farm
Choosing a catchy and unique name for your aquaponics farm is essential. It not only fetches you more customers but also enhances brand growth. Check this guide to know more about the steps to follow to name a business.
6. Setting Up the System
The first step of setting up the aquaponic system is to procure necessary components such as fish tanks, grow beds, pumps, and plumbing. The basic things you need are listed below:
- Tanks for the Fish
- Growing medium for your Plants
- Pumps for Water Supply
- Chlorine Remover
- Grow beds for Plants
- Good and stable Supply of Electricity
- Arrangement of Lights, if you are doing your farming indoors.
Next is to build or assemble the system by ensuring proper water flow and stability. Integrate filters and solids removal to maintain water quality. In addition, add beneficial bacteria to establish the nitrogen cycle.
7. Choosing Fish and Plants
- Fish Selection: You need to choose fish species that thrive in aquaponics. It can bes tilapia, trout, or catfish.
- Plant Selection: It is essential to select plants that can grow hydroponically and absorb nutrients effectively. It can be lettuce, herbs, and tomatoes.
8. Learn The Different Steps of Aquaponics Farming
Farming needs specific steps. You have to follow them one after the other. Some are preparatory steps, while some are direct farming steps.
a) Adding the grow media
It is the growing media, not the soil on which your plants will grow. You can use pea gravel or river rock as grow media. Fill the grow bed with grow media up to a height of approximately 12 inches. Spread the media evenly.
b) Adding Water to the Fish Tank
In the next step, fill your fish tank with water. In the case of tap water, use the pump and aerator to remove chemicals from the water. Normally, small systems need 3 days and large systems may need up to 7 days to be totally free from chemicals.
Add some more water, because of evaporation and absorption of water by plants. Chlorine is harmful to both fish and plants. Use a chlorine remover to remove chlorine from water. Use the right quantity of remover according to the quantity of water you are using.
7. Adding Plants on the Grow Beds
After treating the water, you have to add plants. Dig at least 2 inches hole in the grow media and plant the plants. Then make the bed smooth again so that the plants stand straight.
a) Adding Ammonia and Healthy Bacteria
For Raising Fish, you need to add Ammonia and useful bacteria to the water in the fish tank. The useful bacteria will convert the ammonia waste of the fish into smaller-sized particles for the plants to absorb.
b) Testing the PH
You have to test the PH balance of the water regularly with the PH meter. When the reading shows a range between 6.5 and 7.5, your tank is ready for the fish.
c) Adding Fish in the Tank
After the purification, mineral addition, and the right PH balance of the water is completed, you can add fish to the fish tank.
9. Estimate the Time Period for Plants and Fish to Grow
The time depends on the kind of vegetable and fish you are farming. Vegetables grow faster under aquaponics farming. Leafy vegetables grow within 5 weeks.
The growth of fish depends on the kind of fish you choose. Tilapia takes 6-8 months to grow. Prawns and Shrimp grow in 3 to 6 months. While Trout takes 4 years and Catfish 18 months to grow to the size of 1 Pound.
10. Vegetables & Fish you can Grow in Aquaponics Farming Business
If the size of your Aquaponics Farm is small, you should grow vegetables that do not need many nutrients and grow easily. For Example, lettuce, spinach, kale, mint, okra, spring onion, radish, watercress, leek, etc can be grown.
For vegetables like tomato, cauliflower, cabbage, broccoli, beans, and cucumber, you need a bigger and more advanced Aquaponics Farm.
11. Understand the Economics of Aquaponics Farming Business
Like any other business, the economics of the Aquaponics Farming Business depends on its scale. However, the initial investment and the set-up costs are high.
An approximate cost of starting a 360 sq. ft. farm will cost you more than $10,000. In addition, there are running costs and other costs like water, electricity, lights, chemicals, fish food, etc.
However, with a good production of organic vegetables and fish, you can get a profit margin of more than 10%. Here you have to keep in mind that more profit comes from the sale of organic vegetables which have high demand.
There are certain farming companies that offer a 10% return on investment in Aquaponics Farming Business.
In addition to direct profits, you have the benefits of saving water, soil, and the cost of fertilizers and pesticides which also adds to your profits.
Apart from that, you also earn from some other ways related to your Aquaponics Farming Business. These include Aquaponics training classes, an Aquaponics training kit (with notes and video), Selling Aquaponics Systems, Arranging visits to your Aquaponics farm, etc.
12. Marketing and Selling Your Produce
It is important to identify potential customers for running a commercially successful aquaponics business. You must reach out to local restaurants, farmer’s markets, and grocery stores and sell your produce. In addition, set up effective distribution channels and delivery logistics.
Also, develop a brand identity that reflects the eco-friendly nature of aquaponics. Furthermore, offer workshops or tours to educate the community about aquaponics.
Important Tips to Start Aquaponics Farming
- Start your Aquaponics Business on a small scale and gradually increase it.
- Make arrangements for an alternate source of power. In case there is a power failure, you can keep the system working.
- Give your fish sufficient food so that they are healthy and grow well.
- Make sure that the amount and type of food remain the same so that the waste output of the fish remains more or less the same.
- Make sure that your plants and the fish get a sufficient supply of oxygen. With growth, both plants and fish need more oxygen, so you have to keep the system aerated.
- In the case of the plants in your Aquaponics Farming, choose the plants that require the same water conditions as the fish. It will ensure better growth.
- Keep a close watch on the fish tank and get rid of extra fish waste when required. Excess waste is not good for the health of the fish.
- Monitor the PH level very closely. That is very important for the growth of both plants and fish.
- Buy fish tanks either of glass or food-grade plastic.
- Don’t use chemical pesticides. You can only use organic ones if needed. Chemical pesticides harm the fish.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is Aquaponics?
Aquaponics is the perfect blend of aquaculture or the growth of fish and hydroponics, the growing of vegetables in water. Aquaponics uses both methods together and gets rid of the disadvantages of both systems.
In this system, the fish wastes are transferred to the plants which they use as nutrients. In the growth process, the plants make the water clean again and it then flows back to the fish. Water is continuously recycled from fish to the plants and again to the fish.
Therefore, there is no wastage of water in this process. Plants grow in a soil-less media, without any fertilizer and so fully organic. So, Aquaponics Farming saves a lot of your farming costs, yielding more profits for you.
What are the advantages of Aquaponics Farming?
- It produces vegetables and fish at the same time.
- Aquaponics do not use fertilizers, pesticides, or other chemicals.
- As a result, you will get healthy organic vegetables.
- Aquaponics uses a lesser amount of water than soil farming. According to some experts, it uses 1/10 of the water needed for soil farming. As a result, the water bill will be also less.
- There will be no soil-borne disease of the plants as there is no soil.
- A very small space produces a lot of plants.
- Plants grow quickly because they get nutrients from fish waste.
- You can make the entire process of both fish and plant production at a controlled temperature.
How much space do I need for an aquaponics system?
The space required depends on the system size. Small systems can fit in a backyard, while commercial systems require more significant space.
What challenges might I face in aquaponics farming?
Some of the challenges include maintaining water quality, preventing diseases, and balancing fish and plant health.
Is changing the Water needed in aquaponics farming?
In an Aquaponics System of Farming, you don’t need to change the water. But you have to add water because water loss takes place by evaporation and transpiration. However, there are many farmers who change the water periodically to keep the system clean and germ-free
Is Aquaponics Farming Profitable?
Your Aquaponics Farming Business has great relevance considering the future of farming. Water and land shortages are severe crisis points for the future. Aquaponics Farming solves both problems efficiently.
The freshwater reserves of the Earth are facing the problem of pollution and the pressure of the increasing global population. Your Aquaponics Farming Business being futuristic will neither put pressure on freshwater reserves nor pollute them.
According to Statista, to produce the same amount of output, Aquaponics Farming needed only ten percent of the land area required by traditional farming in 2017. So, you can very well understand the prospect of your Aquaponics Farming Business.
You can start your Aquaponics Business anywhere. It does not need agricultural land. So you can even start it on your terrace, rooftop, or garage. Your Aquaponics business does not pollute rivers or other water bodies. It can very well utilize an alternate source of energy like solar energy or wind energy.
So, there are so many advantages of the Aquaponics Farming Business. With proper training, you can start your business and get good returns.
About the Author: 99businessideas.com led by Rupak Chakrabarty is committed to helping beginners, entrepreneurs, and small business owners in starting, managing, and growing their businesses.