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Friendly Aquaponics Newsletter
Number 119
March 26th,  2013
Images from our farmily aquaponics farm
Aloha Friend,

In today's "Nugget", we cover Part 3 of why we think "Big Ag" will get smaller, and why small local aquaponics and conventional farmers will be more competitive.

Our "In The Farmily" column today, by Susanne, is a continuation of the previous two week's columns about why we share.

Our two complementary columns cover why the combination of aquaponics and energy-efficient greenhouses is an excellent solution to many of the worlds problems today: the high cost of energy, tightening food supplies, changing weather, decreasing availability of water, and social and political unrest.

Friendly 2013 Training Schedule:

One-day New York Benefit Training: Saturday, June 8th: TableTop and Backyard Systems
(this is a BENEFIT, by donation). Registration will open soon!

New York Training;
June 10-14 (Monday thru Friday) , the 5-day Commercial Aquaponics and Energy Efficient Greenhouse Training, $1,495 per person (this special $1,000 off discount only applies until April 25th).
Click here to register for the New York Training!

Click here to find out more about the New York Training!

Commercial Aquaponics and Energy Efficient Greenhouse Training, $1,495 per person (this special $1,000 off discount only applies until April 15th). First 5-day  training: June 17-21st (register here for first Tennessee training). . Second 5-day training: June 24-28th (register here for Tennessee second training).

(Click here for more information on Tennessee trainings).

This five-day training allow you to travel during the weekend so that you only need to take a week off your busy life to attend.

All of these five-day trainings include our $999 DIY Commercial Aquaponics package, $998 DIY Farmer's Market Aquaponic Solar Greenhouse package, $1,998 DIY Commercial Aquaponic Solar Greenhouse package, and new $295 DIY Commercial Tilapia Hatchery manual as course materials, plus our Plywood/Epoxy/ Tank manual, CAD construction drawings for all greenhouses and aquaponics systems, and much more!

If you're located near Tennessee, Randy and Katie give regular free farm tours of their aquaponics systems and greenhouses to introduce the public to the benefits of aquaponics and energy-efficient greenhouse growing. Call Randy and Katie at 256-679-9488 or email Randy to find out when the next farm tour is scheduled.

More details of the Aquaponics Technology course here.

More details of the Aquaponic Solar Greenhouse course here.

More details of the Commercial Aquaponics course here.

Click Here To Find Out More About The 2013 Tennessee Trainings!

For smaller home backyard and apartment systems, please read on:

Purchase Construction Plans and Operating Info for 4 Different Sizes of Table Top Aquaponics Systems $49.95

Our TableTop System package includes easy-to-understand building instructions and operating information for 4 different sizes of small aquaponic systems based on our years of experience. Anyone can build a system out of plastic barrels or IBC totes, but operating one successfully without good and easily-understood information can be frustrating. You simply use the "Daily Operations Checklist" in the manual and follow the step-by-step instructions on your way to success. We also cover how to make aquaponics systems out of weird things like old refrigerators and door frames; this makes aquaponics much more economical to get started in, and fun too!

We spent hundreds of thousands of dollars, hundreds of hours, and built our first commercial aquaponics systems with FAR less information than this manual contains. We included all the information learned from that experience in this manual so you don't need to make any of the same mistakes we did.

Learn about our TableTop Systems!

  Aquaponics Nugget #119, Part 3: Why The Game's Over For "Big Ag"; And Why It's Just Beginning For The Small Farmer

We are covering four major areas of concern (also known as "input variables" in the food equation that gets the food to our grocery shelves) in this series: the cost of energy for food production, the effect of weather on food production, the availability of water for food production, and finally, the social forces that are combining to move our society away from oil-expensive, industrialized food production and towards local, energy-efficient food production.


We covered cost of energy for food production two weeks ago, and covered the effect of weather in last week’s newsletter. Today’s newsletter tells us why we should be concerned about the availability of water on our food supply.


We often act as if there's plenty of water. We turn on the faucet, we turn on the shower, and it's "just there". But there's reason for concern, even in the United States, because over the last 40 years, we've been using water as if there was a limitless supply of it. There's not.

(From Wikipedia:). Take the Ogallala aquifer as an example: one of the world's largest aquifers, it covers an area of approximately 174,000 square miles (450,000 km²) in portions of the eight states of South Dakota, Nebraska, Wyoming, Colorado, Kansas, Oklahoma, New Mexico, and Texas. The regions overlying the Ogallala aquifer are some of the most productive regions in the United States for ranching livestock, and growing corn, wheat, and soybeans.

But we're depleting it; we're using its water for irrigation and it is not getting recharged by the natural sources that put the water there in the first place. The total depletion since we started using it for irrigation is around 253,000,000 acre feet, or three hundred twelve cubic kilometers of water! That figure is depletion, which means how much less water there is in the aquifer since we started, not "how much water have we used". Some scientists think we have only enough volume remaining for 25 years.

From the Wikipedia article: "We use 60% of our water for agricultural irrigation in open water channels; 70% of this water is lost to evaporation". In other words, we're mostly throwing water away when we irrigate, and not getting much bang for our buck!

A recent article from Britain's paper "The Telegraph" states that water may be a greater destabilizing factor in the Middle East in the future than rising food prices. The current protests in Yemen, Egypt, Tunisia, Morocco, and Algeria were triggered by high food prices, but imagine a future in which the aquifers that are currently being used to irrigate this food are depleted (it's happening there too!), and not only is there little food, but also no water.

This problem of shrinking aquifers is exacerbated by recent droughts in areas that depend on rainfall for irrigation water, such Russia when they banned grain exports early in the winter of 2012-2011 when it became obvious that the 2011 harvest season would produce much less than in previous years because of drought (see article here).


There were also droughts in Russia and in the US in the 2012-2013 wheat season. Pakistan had a drought during early 2010 which drastically affected their wheat crop (see article here). Even though these areas depend on rainfall for crops, and don't deplete groundwater for irrigation, water obviously still a huge determining factor in the lives of people there. 

We've even had droughts in Hawaii, on the wet "windward side" of the island that is normally considered "rain forest". Water systems on our island get water from the "water lens" under the island. Although it is not possible to deplete the lens the way an aquifer can be depleted, and the lens is an essentially boundless source of water, we still can't use it to farm on our land.

That may not make sense, but is simply because, at $5 per thousand gallons of water (and this is the affordable "Ag rate", the residential rate is higher), we just can't afford to irrigate crops. We'd spend $2,500 a month irrigating $5,000 worth of crops!

If we plant something, then depend on rain to water it, and it doesn't rain, we have to either spend money on water (hoping it will rain soon, and we won't have to spend too much), or just to let the crop go. Farmers all over the world are in this situation now, with serious economic and social costs; if you have any questions about this, just Google "Punjab, farmer suicides".

Las Vegas's water source may also be in trouble, according to this article in If the area of the Colorado River that feeds Lake Mead (which feeds Las Vegas) is unlucky enough to have continuing droughts through the coming years, both the water for Las Vegas, and the power that lights the homes of 750,000 people in Los Angeles (which both come from the Hoover Dam on Lake Mead) could become things of the past. Imagine Las Vegas going dry, and half of downtown Los Angeles going dark (permanently!); not a pretty thought!

Fresh water can be made using reverse osmosis (expensive!), nuclear power plants (expensive and radioactive!), solar distillation (expensive!), and several other expensive methods. So, although there are options here, the options are mostly for the relatively well-to-do First World nations. What does a poor developing nation do, if it doesn't have enough water for its people?


Here’s the bottom line: we can no longer depend on water being easy to source, or on it being available in the amounts we're used to having.

We can't recharge aquifers; we can't depend on the weather being the same as it was in the past (when there was usually adequate rainfall); we can't use nuclear plants to make water (there are too many problems with them already!); we can't build 12,000 mile pipelines to take water from the Amazon to Africa; and we can't depend on the government or on the scientific community to magically make water out of thin air.

What will we do? 

Costco cold room small 2

Our Farmily with our product in a "Big Box" store; the first time ever that a little mom and pop (Aquaponics!) farm took an account away from a multimillion dollar agribusiness. You'll see more of this, because you as consumers will demand it!

(In next week's "Nugget", we'll cover the next part of "Big Ag 0, Small Farmers 3". Thanks for listening!)

The photo below is our Second Generation Solar Greenhouse, at ten in the morning in the Tennessee winter. It's growing plants inside right now, and you have to take your jacket off because it's so warm! It's cool when it's hot, and warm when it's cold (hope that makes sense to you, it's the best greenhouse we've ever seen!).

GreenhouseSnow3Small 2

Watch The Friendly  Aquaponics Philosophy Video!
Back Issues Of Newsletters Now Available, Click Here!
Purchase Trough Liner Directly From Manufacturer!

New Source! Trout Fry/Fingerlings Shipped Directly From the Hatchery To You!

Free Farm Tours
Aquaponics tour at the Friendly farm!

We hold a free workshop on our farm the FIRST Saturday of every month at 10:00,  focused on growing food with aquaponics and permaculture.  Click here for information. See you there!

If you are a school, a non-profit organization, an organization working with the poor, Native Hawaiians, or ex-inmates, or if you are a church, we will hold a free farm tour for you anytime. You DO need to email us first to schedule, or we might be out on errands!


Thousands of inch-long "fifty-cent" baby tilapia from our "backyard" hatchery


What they turn into about a year later: a beautiful 2-pound white tilapia grown in the fish tanks of our aquaponics systems

Special Offers!

Sign yourself up

for the New York June 10-14th, 2013 Commercial Aquaponics and Solar Greenhouse Training
NOW, and get a $1,000 discount, plus you receive a free Micro System DIY package so you can begin studying aquaponics! ($99.95 value)


Sign yourself up for the FIRST

Or sign yourself up for the SECOND

TENNESSEE June 2013 Commercial Aquaponics and Solar Greenhouse Trainings
NOW, and get a $1,000 discount, plus you receive a free Micro System DIY package so you can begin studying aquaponics! ($99.95 value)

Why We Share, Part 3: World Population Overshoot

Aloha All! 

The Problem of Exponential Growth

A classic introduction to the exponential function involves yeast added to a vat of grape juice, which is the process of making wine. Let's imagine a spherical vat with a diameter of 86 feet (26.23 meters) containing 2,496,205 gallons (9,449,166 liters) of grape juice.

A single yeast cell is added (the size of brewer's yeast averages 3.5 microns, so if a yeast were the size of a human [1.7 m], the vat would be the size of Earth). Yeast can grow and divide every hour, so at the end of the first hour there are two yeast (yeasts??). At the end of the second, there are four yeast. At the end of the third hour there are eight, then 16, 32, 64, and so on. This is exponential growth.

Growth continues, hour after hour, with each generation ending up with twice as many neighbors, but there is still plenty for all. As the alcohol level in the vat slowly increases, other organisms living in the vat begin to die off, until only yeast remain alive.

Everything continues just fine until the 43rd hour when the yeast population reaches 10 trillion, and the vat is 'full' of yeast. The level of alcohol has finally become so toxic that even the yeast can't survive, and by the end of the 43rd hour all the yeast are dead (or cease to function). Below is a graph that might look a little familiar - it looks a lot like the reindeer chart in last week's newsletter:

Yeast Population Growth small

So, the question to ponder for a moment - when was the vat half full of yeast? At half-full, there is still no apparent problem - there still seems to be plenty of sugar for all the yeast to eat. The answer, of course, is the 42nd hour.

We believe that we are nearing the "42nd Hour" for Humanity. We'd love to be wrong about this, but think about it. You might be doing just fine, but how many of your fellow 7 billion humans can say the same?

Given the current difficulties of providing, however inadequately, for the current 7 billion people, do you think Earth can support 14 billion people?

If you do think so, then you can see that we are living at the start of the 42nd Hour. Or, do you believe that the earth can easily support 28 billion? If so, then we are at the start of the 41st Hour. Either way, time is short, and we at Friendly Aquaponics do not believe that there is time left for "proprietary information" and "corporate secrets".

The graph below shows 12,000 years of human population, just beginning to spike in the last 150 or so years, with the advent of The Age of Oil.

Human Population Growth small

The growth of any species, including our own, and no matter how small the growth rate, simply cannot continue indefinitely.  At some point, the population must crash, and such crashes are normal and commonplace in the natural world.

It can be graphed happening time and again to numerous species which overshoot the resource base required for the survival of the species. Yeast and reindeer are just two examples out of scores. A species begins with the exuberance of having more than enough resources to flourish, but then their growth inevitably takes them past the point at which sufficient resources are available, and they die off.

This is nature's way, and we should not think we are immune. We are, after all, part of nature, no matter how far we've come technologically. 

More next newsletter on this important subject!
Thanks for reading,

Aloha, Susanne.....

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This email, our manuals and construction plans are all copyrighted by  Friendly Aquaponics, Inc, Susanne Friend and Tim Mann, 2008-2013

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