If you’re considering pursuing a commercial venture in using aquaponics for profit, you must understand that there are some major differences compared to a home based aquaponics system.
You really need to do your homework before heading in that direction which is very alluring to many, but at the same time, requires a lot of hard work and dedication.
Here are 7 insightful tips in using aquaponics for profit.
1) Network With People In The Industry
Just like with any business in any industry, you will get a massive knowledge booster by communicating with others who are in the aquaponics industry also, as many will have encountered the same issues you’ll be facing.
You can especially learn a lot from potential buyers such as restaurant owners and chefs who can be a very viable market for same-day produce. Many chefs have interest in the choice to specify exactly what can be grown for them which can lead to a niche market for salad blends and various herbs.
Since there is a growing demand for locally grown food, wholesalers and local grocery stores will be interested in making purchases from local producers as long as the price is right.
2) Know Your Customer
The chances are that if you’re just starting out, your funds will be limited and you won’t have the resources to compete directly with larger and more experienced growers who can produce faster and cheaper.
In order to gain a competitive advantage you will have to know your customer inside out and market your produce directly to them.
Competing on price alone is practically impossible, but you can offer organic, sustainable and local produce to people, providing that they are the type of people who are willing to pay a premium price for what you’re offering.
Also, you must know the size of your market and whether it’s sizable enough to sustain your business model.
Do your research and marketing properly to educate potential customers of the benefits that aquaponic produce brings.
3) Do Your Calculations Properly
There’s no point in doing aquaponics on a commercial scale if it’s not profitable, even if you do have the desire to get people to eat more organically.
If you decide to sell your produce at a wholesale level, it will mean that you would have to consider two things:
- Can you reduce the price of your produce and still make a healthy profit?
- Can your aquaponics system sustain a wholesale supply?
If the answer is no, then your only other option would be to sell directly to the end consumer where you will be profitable, but the volume you sell will be limited.
4) Consider Off-Season Produce
Depending on where you’re based in the world, you may be able to focus on off-season produce if the climate depicts seasonal produce.
This would mean that fresh produce will be put away for half of the year but a market for off-season produce will open up.
It’s a big bonus if you have a local active food and farmers’ market. The main issues that you’ll be faced with is keeping the cost of heating down and if you can manage that, then the opportunity may be a great one.
5) Consider A CSA Model
For many people wanting to use aquaponics for profit, the best approach to their market would be a year-round CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) model which allows members of that group to buy shares of your produce.
In return, the members have the option to take part in the decision-making process of what you’ll grow and they would also get a per cent allotment of what the greenhouse produces each week. Members would also have to share in any disasters that occurs.
6) Think About The Flexibility Of Your Aquaponics System
It’s important that you can grow a wide variety of fruits and vegetables, especially if you decide to go the CSA route. Combining different types of aquaponics systems such media beds and vertical towers for plants that grow fast is a good idea, as is just sticking purely with straightforward media-based aquaponics systems.
Although raft (DWC – Deep Water Culture) and NFT (nutrient film technique) style systems makes harvesting easier because the plant roots hang freely in the water, they limit the variety of plants you can grow and require solids filtration.
They’re also expensive and maintenance is time consuming, therefore, you should probably just stick with a system that is more flexible and allows you to react to the demands of your market.
7) Know Yourself
This is most important step to know whether or not you’ll be using aquaponics for profit. If you do, then you must understand your limitations. Don’t go into commercial aquaponics thinking that you’re ready to take on a large aquaponics project if you’re relatively inexperienced.
Wait until you’ve built up enough knowledge to understand how everything works, from your own aquaponics system to the business side on things.
Without instinct built on knowledge and experience, there are many problems that you won’t be able to identify immediately such as how healthy your aquaponic fish and plants are or if there are any pH, nutrient or insect problems.
On the other hand, don’t go into aquaponics purely for the pursuit of profit. Your heart and mind has to be devoted to the farming and business aspects of aquaponics. This means sticking to a routine, being independent and being on call constantly.
If you don’t believe that you can manage those aspects of running an aquaponics business mentally and physically, then it may be best to just have a home aquaponics system for your own personal benefits where you’re free from the stress and hard work.
To get the most out of your aquaponics system, I highly recommend the following articles, where you can decide from the highest rated and bestselling products for aquaponics.