KRISTINA ADAMS, aquaculture consultant, has set up a small aquaponics system at home made from barrels
By KATRINA FRANCIS-WORRELL
THIRTY-FOUR-OLD Kristina Adams is a qualified aquaculture consultant who manages the fish farm, fish breeding facility and aquaponics demonstrations at “Adams Aquafarm” located at Hopewell, St Thomas.
With a background in biological science, she also received training in aquaponics at the University of the Virgin Islands.
Adams explained that in 2013, she started the farm which offered summer internships and aquaponics training, even though she favoured the fish aspect of aquaculture over the plant aspect.
This young fish farmer would breed and raise fish to be sold, but due to her level of qualifications, she was encouraged to extend her work to include aquaponics.
Therefore, two years ago as the interest in aquaponics was increasing locally, she seized the opportunity to set up a demonstration farm for aquaponics on the island.The project has been funded by the Blue Revolution Project of the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO).
The demonstration green house was set up on the farm last year containing two aquaponics systems: the deep water raft, and the nutrient film technique (NFT).
Both systems are comprised of a large barrel of tilapia fish connected by a system of pipes to the produce area. When the fish are fed, they generate waste containing nitrates which the plants pull on for sustenance.
By absorbing the nitrates, not only do the plants grow, but they also purify the water for the fish.At present, the aquaponics system on the farm mainly produces lettuce, chives, mint and basil which are sold to local restaurants.
Adams stressed that the process is entirely organic because the fish are given tilapia feed and
chemicals are not added to the water.This is done in order to keep the fish safe for human consumption and to avoid potentially killing the good bacteria which are needed to balance the system.
Though the system is not labourintensive to maintain, the owner must have a good knowledge of the system.“Everything is easy and anyone can do it, young or old, male or female,” she said,“but you need to have a good knowledge of the science behind the system, if not your system will not work.That is why we offer training.”
Discussing the benefits of aquaponics, Adams noted that aquaponics is more adaptable than traditional farming because it is easy to change the crops, move them around, and tailor the number of crops being produced to match orders.
As a business venture, aquaponics is profitable, but she recommends conducting market research first and if possible, securing contracts with restaurants or stores willing to purchase a set number of crops weekly.
This year will the farm’s third year participating in
(Pictures by Christoff Griffith.)
(anti-clockwise) Darren Barrow, Tyrese King-Rollock, Saeed Simmons and Isaiah Nurse, members of the Barbados Youth Service, are interns at Adams Aquafarm. Here, they are rotating crops on the nutrient film technique aquaponics system, connected to the fish tank
at right. (CSG)
(see picture above left), which produces lettuce and herbs.