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Considering ‘The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly’ :

First, let’s dispense with ‘the Bad’  …  (the candid, ‘naughty‘ chunks).

The ONLY accessible/discernible so-called ‘data’ available from any “Aquaponics” technique , other than iAVs, is from the so-called “raft technique” as demonstrated at The University of the Virgin Islands (UVI) by Dr. James Rakocy et al.

The UVI project trials were never replicated (fact, despite protestations) but instead serially repeated (more-or-less, sort of) for approximately 25 years outdoors under annually and seasonally variable climatic conditions (i.e., precipitation volumes never acknowledged) and without any experimental control(s) whatsoever.  Zero experimental design, no contrast(s), factorials, falsifiability, merit, rigour, significance, variant(s), validity … with a cherry on top!

These facts ‘makes’ (establishes) the UVI program to have been a protracted (ntm Deified) “Demonstration of Concept” and NOT a scientifically conducted study, experimentation, research, nor a designed, elucidated, refined system.  This is not a matter of personal opinion, susceptible to conjecture, or a matter in dispute, but rather demonstrable fact.

To my/our knowledge and to date, no UVI/DWC ‘system’ (nor F&D either of that matter) has ever been subjected to (scrutinized, vetted, approved) or published in any peer-review, refereed scientific Journal of any field, with the sole exception of iAVs (here).   There are several valid reasons as to why not, being dominantly due to the meticulous, if not also calculated, total absence of acceptable (valid) scientific investigation methodology.

In the Sciences (including applied research, engineering, technology) self reporting (e.g., Press/media, Books (or chapter), Conference Proceedings, seminars, Symposia, websites/forums/youtube, Workshops, etc.) is not considered to be “Publication” in Science.  Self-reporting is instead principally viewed as self-promotion (biased, posturing, self-aggrandizement), notwithstanding the forthcoming inevitable wave of contrary argumentation.   Apparently, todaythe Internet’s vast reach, capricious integrity and hypervelocity is effectively consigning both convention and integrity in applied Science to oblivion … but I digress.

“There are in fact two things, science and opinion; the former begets knowledge, the later ignorance.”  ~ Hippocrates

High School level “Science Fair”, or “Show & Tell 2.0” pseudoscience and “Pop Science” are not deemed to be legitimate investigation, or applied research, development, explanatory, inquiry, validation, ‘proof’ of anything at all, or valid Science in any way, form or sense.

Neither is thaumaturgy or theurgy, AKA hocus-pocus mumbo jumbo gobbly gook gee wowamazingquantum awesomeness joo-joo. {BTW, I inherited Carl Sagan’s Invisible Dragon.  It now lives in my dungeon.  Private viewing can be arranged.  Tickets are limited.  Advance purchase required.  Gratuities welcome.}

The above holds as true of every UVI disciple, mimic, pretender, shill, supplicant and sycophant du jour to dateª , as it does across the entire spectrum of “Aquastrology© , without exception, and wholly regardless of the extent of expenditures in funds, time and ‘fluff‘ (evangelism, publicity, conjecture, fallacy, hype, spin, woo, … ) applied by the manifold purveyors of fantasy, predators on gullibility, sordid ‘seminarians’, and related merchandizing bandits.

The gross conceit as exhibited by hundreds of overt charlatans claiming certain knowledge related to so-called ‘Aquaponics’ is the very antithesis of Science, ntm of ethics, integrity, morality, and rationality.  This burgeoning manifest pretense of knowledge will never result/coalesce in viability of commercial/meaningful application.

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“One can ignore reality, but one cannot ignore the consequences of ignoring reality.”  ~Ayn Rand


The ‘holy’ Styrofoam raft floated in a tepid bubbly bathtub ‘method’ of so-called ‘aquaponics’, as ‘commercially‘ propagated, promulgated and proliferating from UVI (and subsequently emergent variants hyped by aspiring profiteers, globally), is also referred to as Deep Water Culture (DWC).

There are MANY significant differences in method, biology and result between UVI/DWC and iAVs ; far too many, in fact, to attempt an elucidation here.

Basically, the UVI/DWC ‘technique’, when contrasted with iAVs :

  • costs more to implement (facility/area, materials, equipment, technology)
  • costs more to operate (energy use, labor and material inputs),
  • requires multiple externally sourced inputs other than fish feed and seed stocks,
  • requires continuous grid-electrical connection and supply chain access,
  • mandates the use of diversely-skilled staff/technicians,
  • is not nearly as efficient in resource utilization (wrt water, area, nutrient and in time),
  • is not nearly as productive – in terms of both nutritional and economic value produced,
  • the ‘vegetable’ crop species options are limited (constrained) to caloric-negative ‘leaf’ (herbaceous) species such as basil, kale and lettuce, all with very low nutrient requirements, minimal or negative food value and a high tolerance for root submergence (aka drowning).  The word “vegetable” is a culinary term, not botanical/scientific.
  • pollutes the environment through significant manufacturing, transport and disposal ‘costs’ (carcinogens) of polystyrene foam (etc.).

Any role for soil microorganism communities in nutrient conversions/element cycling is non-existent in the UVI/DWC approach. Terrestrial ecology is deliberately discounted and ignored; instead allegedly ‘met’ through various attempts at compensation/adjustment by investing in strings of specialty tanks and mechanical equipment coupled to automated electronic monitoring technologies, that in combined effect literally ‘feed’ (fill) sludge lagoons.  This is NOT ‘exactly’ edible, marketable, nutritious, pleasant, tasty, … nor remotely rational, IMO.   It’s not too difficult (for rational primates) to appreciate that “DWC” could coequally ‘stand for’ (describe) “Deliberate Waste of Crap”.

The net result is that UVI/DWC is nowhere nearly as efficient as iAVs is in either resource utilization or in food value produced per unit area, volumes, and (or) time.  Which is to say nothing of any alleged profitability in a commercial context or viability in a third-world village.

 [ ª Sure, I could easily be far more specific, i.e. cite individuals.  But willfully ignorant pretentious charlatans and sanctimonious addle pates with access to million dollar budgets can probably afford lawyers – and I can not!  Do note, “Turds float & stench rises.” If you’ve previously noticed this phenomenon, then you’re probably one in a million. ]

will starve 4 food                                              AnnCoulter_WillHateForFood

Where do you ‘fall’ along the continuum?


Now, for your dining delight, on to the GOOD ‘news’  …

In stark contrast, the iAVs is FAR simpler to create (establish), to operate (manage), with MUCH higher resource use efficiency and FAR greater productivity and thereby representing a highly significant potential for exceptional profitability.  Additionally, the iAVs excels in the production of high-value (in both nutritional and economic terms) fruit-bearing crops, such as Achenes, Brassica (cole spp.), Capsicums (peppers), Cucurbits (cucumber, melons, squashes), Legumes (beans, peas), Solanum (eggplant, tomatoes), and some root crops – in addition to all ‘greens’, culinary and medicinal herbs.

The graphic below compares UVI with the iAVs in several key productivity metrics, each of which clearly differentiates (distinguishes) the efficacy of the iAVs from the UVI/DWC method.  The UVI ‘data’ (reported result of a trial) applied in this comparison is, to our knowledge, the ‘best’ production result obtained at UVI in 25 years of repeated one-off trials.

The iAVs Lo-tech data (values below) were derived (reduced by 40%) from the productivity means (of 16 ‘systems’; 4 ea. at 4 v:v ratios) in repeated, replicated clinical trials (scientifically designed experiment).  The iAVs Hi-tech yields (below) reflect a 10% reduction of yields resulting from the USDA-sponsored iAVs Commercial-scale Demonstration Project conducted in 1992-93 by Dr. Boone Mora and Tim Garrett (both novice growers/managers).  All calculations (from an Excel spreadsheet, not shown) were premised on (derived with) the fish grow-out tank(s) set at identical volume.  Lighter color bar extensions to indicate the potential for further yield increases.   (source citation below graphic).


Relative Efficcy of iAVs

iAVs v. UVI Summary B

“With Lo-tech iAVs, each liter of water employed [‘system’ capacity plus (a high of) 2.5%/day ‘loss’ rate x 365] can produce, in fish and fruit, at least 0.7 g DW protein [6 g LW Tilapia, 2.8 g FW flesh], 7+ kilo-calories of food-energy, and most essential minerals and vitamins. This level of productivity is two to three orders of magnitude [100 to 1000+ times] more efficient in the use of water than open-field production in the U.S. (i.e., corn, soy, … and catfish, poultry, …).” ~ H.D. Gross, 1988.   Hi-tech iAVs (actually, moderate-tech) has already virtually doubled yields, with several ‘avenues’ available by which to provide further improvements.

With ‘wastes’ from low-density tilapia culture fertilizing Kewalo™ tomato, the 1989 iAVs crop at NCSU produced USDA Grade No 1 fruit at 61 kg/ m2/yr. (at 3 crops/year).  Summer 2012 Atlanta-area mean “Certified Organic” No. 1 vine-ripe 6×6 (large) tomato producer price (‘farm gate’) was US$6.26/kg (US$2.84/lb). This equates to US$380  m2/yr. at the iAV’89 yield.  April 10,2015 Atlanta-area wholesale terminal price for ‘Organic’ vine-ripe light-red-red medium, Florida” tomato was $5.85/kg (for US$357  m2/yr.).  May 1, 2015 Philadelphia terminal price for ‘Organic’ Vine-ripes 6×7 light-red, Ontario” tomato was $6.90/kg (in 5 kg flats) which translates to $421 m2/yr.

Unique local production factors and prevailing/seasonal market unit prices should be factored in at/for each location.  In general, all food groups globally are and will continue to increase in value, especially as water availability for agriculture is impacted by persistent drought in primary production regions.

In a modern commercial greenhouse facility, tomato grown as an annual crop and with CO2 supplementation, iAVfruit yield is projected at 80 kg/ m2/yr. or greater, equating to US$552+ m2/yr at May 1 US East Coast price. sold into the wholesale market (US$2.23 M/ac/yr, US$5.52 M/ha/yr, AU$7.18 M/ha/yr).

The above valuations are excluding the revenue from sale of fresh fish (and meal), any intercrops (numerous options), value-added processing or products, potential ‘branding’ premium, and direct marketing.  Other plant species can be equally productive in terms of market value achieved per unit area/time, as can specific cropping combinations and/or scheduling to exploit seasonal markets and/or niches (e.g., restaurant chefs, commercial vendors, hospitals, shop online, ‘Organic’ dip, salsa, sauce, … processors, etc.).

Two principle applications of the iAVs technology are readily apparent. One is as a small-holder activity using local inputs, providing food self-sufficiency plus a surplus for the cash market. A second application is as large-scale, commercial enterprise(s) sited near population centers. Either approach could be combined with ongoing water harvesting, gardening, or greenhouse projects, planned or already in place. This technology was expressly developed for and is eminently applicable to the requirements of regions where water and/or land resource availability are dominantly limiting to food production.

“Of all man’s miseries the bitterest is this, to know much and to have control over nothing.” ~ Herodotus

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Finally, a dishonorable mention for ‘the UGLY’  …

A comparison of iAVs’ proven productivity with ANY (all) other so-called ‘Flood & Drain’ -ponics is NOT even minimally possible.

This is due to:

1) a categorical absence of any reported metrics; methods, parameters, yields, et al. – anything by/from anyone, anywhere, whatsoever (TMK) – which presumes that any supportable claims could in fact be developed – and,

2) the prevailing, ubiquitous, abject, calloused, apparent, odious, and willful ignorance of the scientific method generally, and in regard to (for) biological and ecological systems research/clinical studies* specifically.  Empirically, this explicitly includes ALL of the ‘High Priests of Ponics’ and Cyber-Sect ‘leaders’ of “Aquastrology” lore and voodoo woo.

They know who they are.   You should too.


[* e.g.,  selection of dependent-/ controls on independent variables, proper (ntm an) experimental design, documentation, quantification of parameters, statistical analysis (assessing variance, confidence intervals, significance, etc.) ‘to say nothing of ‘ candidly reporting and publishing methodology and complete results accurately].


~ Mark R. McMurtry

tilapia school R411 Tom3 tilapia & vegies

“All truth passes through three stages. First, it is ridiculed. Second, it is violently opposed. Third, it is accepted as being self-evident.” ~ Arthur Schopenhauer         [ Fourth, it is corrupted, debased, perverted to impotent irrelevancy.]

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