Welcome to the Closed
Environment Agriculture
Greenhouse here we do aquaponics and
hydroponics for production of both fish,
in this case Tilapia and a variety of lettuces and
plants that will be sent to the school’s dining
program at Seneca. Aquaponics is simply the culture of fish and plants together hydroponics is simply the raising of plants in aquatic media, okay, so it has everything to do with where
did the water come from This entire system is a
recirculating system so the water will enter the
Tilapia tanks which are the fish that we currently raise, it’s a warm water species of cichlid and once it leaves the tank it’s
going to go behind underground here, and into these
filtration systems since we’re recirculating or
reusing the water water quality is key. So, what we’re trying to do when we send it through these different filter systems is remove any uneaten food and
any waste of any kind. So the major solids are caught
by several screens once it leaves this sump area it’s going to go into what looks
like pool filters again that’s to capture fine
particulate solids the real key, and the real driver of this whole system is that blue filter right there that’s where we do our
biological filtration so that is taking out any toxic
ammonia metabolites. The bacteria that colonize a bunch of little plastic balls inside this filter system help reduce that molecule to its
non-toxic form. Then the water splits it goes back to the fish and into the plants. So the nitrate that’s already
present in the water serves as a fertilizer. This is a raft system so the
plants are directly on top of the water the roots growing directly down
into the water, okay, and the nitrate that they
receive from the fish waste, the broken down fish waste serves as that fertilizer to help with growth. As they grow we’re pushing the rafts down as they get bigger and bigger,
we’ll harvest at the end, and Aquaculture students and Horticulture students come together in this space and they both learn about the animal culture side, so what does it take to keep the fish alive and happy and what nutrients, what nutrition, and what life requirements have to be balanced with plants, okay. plants like their water a little
more acidic than fish do and that has to do with nutrient
availability so we have to add some nutrients
to this system and we have to adjust the pH in
this system versus what we have with the fish. So it’s a little more complex to get the whole system functioning as a whole unit, okay. Couple other things that we do in here we have an irrigation bed that we raise tomatoes in the tomatoes are going to grow up, upwards of nine to ten feet and then we start training their
vines back down so we have heirloom varieties of
tomatoes that are going in today with Horticulture students that
are doing most of the planting. We have nutrient film technique,
okay, all we’re doing is running water
across the root system through a PVC pipe, okay the reason I like this system is because we can mirror-image two different water sources so this water source is actually
aquaponic water, water that came from the fish and is flowing and recirculating through, and this system is hydroponic so you have to do a little bit
more addition on the hydroponic side than you
do on the aquaponic side so we have pH measurements that
are happening live we have temperature measurements that are happening both atmospherically and we’ve started to add temp loggers to our water reservoirs and we have a computer system that will notify us if there is an emergency and the third thing that we
have is a motorized and computerized
shade cloth, okay. It uses a light meter
and we tell it if you have too much light,
basically, to close and if there’s not enough
light to close as well because we want to keep the heat
insulating in so a little bit of automation that we are doing as far
as training our students on systems that they would already have in a large-scale production greenhouse. With this greenhouse you’re not
going to see as much production as you would on the
industrial side of aquaponics and hydroponics
growth in large facilities that are producing many different
types of plants the reason is this is a
model for education, okay, so we’re trying to balance our
students’ educational experience with the actual production
that we do. So one of the things that we end up doing here quite a bit are student projects. The projects that we’ll do
include anything from having students model what would happen if there was a nutrient deficiency in the water to different types of lights that the industry might use and how does that affect plant growth. So this is a research space as
well as a production space. This is particular tray is to
start all of our seedlings. We start them in a material
called rock wool it holds moisture very well and this media is what we’re going to start the actual seeds in they’ll grow up to seedlings, then we’ll transplant them into whatever system they’re going in to. The nutrient film
technique system, or, the raft system. In agriculture any time that
you can control the outcome you’re at less mercy
of the elements that’s the major thing. We want to be able to control production cycles so here we can control light, we can control temperature, we can control the media in which they’re growing in. Now the nice thing about this in
area like Morrisville where we do not have necessarily, the year-round access to a variety of different fruits and vegetables,
we can give our students fresh fruit and vegetables that we produce on campus all year round so these lettuces will do
different cycles of harvesting but generally we’re going to
harvest six to eight weeks so that’s all year long we can provide fresh fruits and vegetables to our students.