Aquaponics, which involves the combination of “aquaculture” and “hydroponics”, is a farming practice that integrates aquaculture with plant production. In aquaponics, the fish wastewater provides a food source for the growing plants and reciprocally the plants provide a natural filter to keep the water clean for the fish. This creates a mini ecosystem where both plants and fish can thrive. Aquaponics is the ideal answer to a fish farmer’s problem of disposing of nutrient rich water and a hydroponics grower’s need for nutrient rich water. By incorporating aquaponics, the cost and labor involved in mixing fertilizer solutions are eliminated and operational efficiencies are realized.
Apothio holds significant intellectual property related to commercial scale aquaponic cultivation, and has developed a specific closed loop model known as "The Raceway System" (see patents US9538733B2 & US20170231174), designed to create and empower resilient, sovereign, and off-grid communities with sustainable food and energy production modalities.
The Raceway System vertically integrates unique aquaponics system designs with alternative aquaculture fish feed sources, fingerling production methods, alternative aquaculture/farmed fish grow out models, and green energy sources that yield organic produce and plants. The Raceway System serves for grow-out throughout the warm and cold months. During the summer months, fish can be spawned and fed for steady growth, while during the winter months; the fish continue to grow at slower but acceptable growth rates.
The system derives its water from an open, natural, established pond or Lake Ecosystem to ensure that the raceways are adequately seeded with all of nature’s good and bad bacteria and algae. Additionally, the lake or pond also inoculates, or in essence vaccinates, the raceways and its aquatic occupants with the broad spectrum of bacteria, viruses, parasites, etc. found in nature. The fish and plants grow faster, stronger and are more resistant to disease when exposed to the naturally balanced ecosystem found in the pond water or lake water than artificially-cleaned water found in the overwhelming majority of aquaculture recirculation systems. As a backup to greenhouses and the non-insulated open pond system, the Raceway System includes winter quarters for the fish that is well insulated and heated to ensure that the fish are comfortable and will continue growing and spawning throughout the winter months. The size of the winter quarters is dependent upon on the number of and type of fish that need to be held over the colder months.
Below is an example Dr. Jones' original Indiana aquaponics farm. The inside photo was taken during the Indiana winter in February! The Google Earth photo is of the same farm. This aquaponics farm design is larger than a football field.
The Raceway System derives/recovers a large part of its energy demands from natural sources such as moving water, wind energy, methane digestion, wind, solar, burning wood waste and compost. Comparatively, other fish farms or aquaponics systems need pumps and other energy-consuming devices which come with high energy costs. The Raceway System also uses additional alternative aeration methods such as the use of various plants in and near the water like algae and domestic plants. Other available systems on the market requires the pumping of water to a higher elevation and then letting the water tumble over rocks or gravel in other aquaponics systems and thus come with high associated electrical costs. The system is also auto-recirculating, which means little to no monitoring or measuring is required.
The Raceway System requires low capital expenditures at 10% of the cost of indoor cultivation and involves low operating expenditures of an even lower percentage of cost when compared to indoor cultivation. Chromatographic data supports the fact that the outdoor aquaponic system also increases the CBD oil density by an additional 40% over the traditional forms of cannabis cultivation; such as, indoor, deep water culture, aeroponics and organic soil cultivation. The growing of the fish is a significant component of the Raceway System, and the sale of fish offers the Company additional revenue sources going forward.
In 2011, Dr. Trent Jones designed an Aquaponics Farm remotely via Google Earth, and then helped install the entire farm within a 90 day period. Approximately 10,000 mixed-sex, all natural tilapia and aquatic plants were added to this new system in December 2011. The final 30 seconds of this video quickly demonstrates the rapid plant and tilapia growth found within a 4 month period (end of April 2012). All of this new growth took place during the Texas winter time! The design was based upon the patents that Dr. Jones has developed and written over the past 25 years.
Joshua Renfro and Dr. Trent Jones connected in March 2017 over common interest and passion in developing scalable, modular, and closed-loop systems that use less water, produce more food, and can be implemented anywhere in the world. Joshua had spent years searching for a true closed-loop model that could be implemented anywhere in the world, and he found them in Jones design. Joshua and Trent have worked together since meeting, with a common vision of bringing this vision to fruition at true industrial scale. Joshua is an Apothio partner and part-time Harvard University environmental management graduate student who has built and managed over ten aquaponic systems of various shapes, sizes, and mediums at K-12 schools, private and public universities, San Francisco County Jail (San Bruno), post-incarceration workforce development programs (Hunters Point Family), Future Farmers program, community centers, and private residences while serving as an apprentice to David Rosenstein, aquaponics pioneer based out of Los Angeles, California.