16 January, 2021

Outdoor Wisconsin | Program | #3503 – Aquaculture Production/Aquaponics/Kayaking School

[Music] we've come out to the University of wisconsin-milwaukee school of freshwater sciences where cutting-edge research has helped make Wisconsin a leader in sustainable aquaculture production first up this week Jeff Kelm visits an aquaponics company in Marquette County that grows fish and produce in a sustainable system and then I'll kayak the Pine River in Richland County with Pine River paddle and tube and finally Emmy Fink visits farm wise a summer day school for kids in Walworth County I'm Dan small and it's time once again for outdoor Wisconsin [Music] [Music] aquaculture production is a billion-dollar industry in the United States in Wisconsin's a world leader in this sustainable way of growing food here in the lab at the UWM school of freshwater sciences researchers are developing state-of-the-art techniques to raise fish and produce using recirculated fresh water jeff kelm recently visited nelson and paid aquaponics in Montello where rebecca nelson explained how the system works so aquaponics is is growing growing food or growing fish in the sustainability together right yeah it's it's all the above we raise fish in tanks and we feed those fish the fish waste breaks down and feeds plants it's all in a soilless system and it's very sustainable because because we use less water we don't use pesticides herbicides or chemical fertilizers it's a completely natural process well we currently have our systems in 27 different countries so that is as broad as five different continents Mongolia Malaysia all over Europe throughout the Caribbean but we really see that growing over time as those numbers continue to build the demand for what we do and the need for fresh food is there so our goal is to have our aquaponic systems in every country there is it cycles like that 24 hours a day so we constantly have fish growing in the system we constantly have that conversion from fish waste to nutrients and we constantly have plants growing and we do that 365 days a year it's one of the other big differences between our aquaponic systems and indoor farming and growing outdoors where you're limited by seasons and environmental conditions and now the plants that you're growing what's Ibou what type of plants can you grow in an aquaponic system you know we can grow just about anything when you look at the things that we grow and it's it ranges from sweet corn to asparagus to lettuce bananas things like that but the things that are most commercially viable our leafy crops so a commercial grower is gonna pretty much plan a few varieties of lettuce maybe some kale and Swiss chard because that's what's most profitable but a school system or a homeowner mission system they're gonna want to grow the things that they like to eat and like to demonstrate so it's really unlimited when you look at typical garden crops absolutely it's one of the benefits many benefits of aquaponics is from this one system this one infrastructure or raising fish that you can eat so that's a source of protein and vegetables and that is one of the reasons we hear from so many people in developing countries is the need for protein the need for fresh bed vegetables and we can do it all in this one system you can do it on any scale and thinking back the first aquaponics system I had was a 10 gallon fish tank so it's a great example but you know that's not going to feed the world so the systems range in size from something somebody could do in their kitchen on a counter to small systems for home food production just like you'd have a regular garden we have aquaponic systems for that size and then going upward small commercial systems large commercial systems really hit all the different applications from home to school and education research social mission and then the commercial projects where people are setting up large-scale aquaponic systems and doing it for profit for me the passion really comes from a love of good food and wanting to not just share the food but the way to grow it so the fact that we're very sustainable the food the end result of what we produce is very very high quality and just wanting to be able to help other people do the same thing and produce the same quality food anywhere in the world that's really our motivation Rebecca we're at the the looks like the seed table it looks like a lot of very young plants here I see some just seeds sitting in what looks to be almost like moss can you explain to us what we're seeing here and where we go from this sure well the germination table is where it all starts for the plants and we start everything from seed in our greenhouse so that we're not bringing in any soil because remember it's a soilless system so we actually grow in a material called rock wool which is chemically inert it's not dirt it's just a fibrous little cube that provides perfect conditions for both germination and seedling development so in this example where we have new seeds that were planted today in 24 hours you'll see germination occur and in 48 hours you see the first green leaves so that conditions are ideal for rapid growth now this seedling once it's about three four days old we'll spend another week here on the germination table so once it's at about ten days old it's ready to go to its next location continue growing so once they leave the germination table they come out here to the plant nursery where the spacing is a little wider and then they spend another ten or twelve days here in the nursery always trying to get high-quality seedling ready to go in the main raft production area oh but what's really neat is you can see the progression of the plants throughout the raft we always harvest on one end so the big plants are over there and the seedlings are here so you put the seeds in we put the seeds in and then every single day on the far end we harvest the lettuce so we make room to just push all these wraps ahead you take the empty raft go back to the nursery fill it up and then again just continue pushing ahead the really amazing thing is that from seedling to harvest is eighteen days in the raft and that all goes back to the efficiency and the profitability of the system wraps don't have to be that big to grow an enormous amount of food and just in these rafts that you're looking at we harvest about 144 heads of lettuce a day and you're not dealing with pulling weeds we're not dealing with no dirt no grit Рit's a very very beautiful environment to work in and very little pests very little pest part of that is we're in a controlled environment and the other part is we can't use pesticides because they would kill our fish so we use all natural means of pest control so we bring in good bugs to prevent bad bug populations from happening seems simple enough this is awesome this is beautiful leafy green I almost want a salad right now ever since I was a tiny kid and I grew up in Wisconsin you know sitting on the side of the lake fishing or watching fish I've always had this passion for fish and as an adult John paid my partner and I started doing hydroponics which is just soilless plant production when we realized that we could combine this passion of raising fish with the hydroponic systems and have an all-natural fertilizer source and then rely on chemical fertilizers it just made complete sense and that goes back to over the early 90s so we've been doing aquaponics since then and what started as kind of a obscure science experiment has grown into a full-blown industry that's feeding people around the world we raise tilapia as well as most of our customers do and it's the fourth most consumed seafood item in the United States so there is a huge market demand but the reasons most of us use tilapia is they're very fast-growing and they're also very Hardy and you can get the fry the little fish all year long so we can do staggered stockings and rely on the fish staying healthy being healthy and growing fast and the example of that growth rate is when we stock a 50 gram fish so that's a fish about two inches long into our broad system in six months it's ready to harvest at a pound and a half and that's really fast now there are other fish that you could use the University of Wisconsin right now is doing research on walleye we've raised bluegill and crappie and bass and many many other species that are freshwater fish but none of them grow as fast as the tilapia so that really makes it a great choice and when you raise it right it's a really good tasting fish so Rebekah now we've got some small fish here we got some some fry back this way and they kind of grow out into these tanks here and and this is kind of where it all starts for somebody if they're you know wanting to put a system together right yep absolutely you need to start with the small fish so we actually bring in the tilapia fry at about a half gram each and once they come into the greenhouse then we raise them in a nursery until they're big enough to stock in the main commercial system so this is the fish nursery these fish came in about a month ago they grow rare very rapidly at this size and at this stage of development and I know this size were feeding them five times a day and then as they get bigger their dietary needs change we need a lower protein diet and we feed them less often so once they're out to grow at stage you only feed three times a day as every month we have a tank of fish ready to harvest so we harvest that tank and then we have these guys the little ones ready to stock in there so we harvest about 400 pounds of fish we've put in a couple 150 gram fish and the whole process continues alright well let's go check that out I'm gonna sprinkle a little more feet in here for these ones and we'll check out the rest of the system all right so it takes about six months to get from that 50 gram fish to the size that are ready to harvest six months so these fish in this particular tank they're all about five inches or so somewhere in there six inches and they'll all stay about that same size you won't remove them here until you're ready to harvest them exactly these guys are they have a couple of months to go before they're ready to harvest so we don't move them around once they get in these tanks they just get there as a 50 gram fish grow up to harvest size and then all of the tanks are staggered at different ages so we always will have a tank ready one every month our customers come from all walks of life what's kind of funny is they're rarely a fish farmer and they're rarely a farmer of any sort what's interesting them is this integrated system the sustainability of it and the fact that we grow protein and a vegetable crop so sometimes our customers are homeowners sometimes they're schoolteachers sometimes they're people that want to start a small commercial system it can be as broad as governments will hear from you know a Minister of Agriculture from Zimbabwe one day or we'll hear from somebody in a government that's focused on food security for their nation so our customers are very broad and come from all walks of life the one thing that's consistent is they're really all about food safety food security and providing that year-round it's amazing this is a great opportunity for for anybody to really learn this and and you guys give those people anybody that opportunity to learn how to be able to do this just being able to help people grow high-quality food anywhere is is wonderfully rewarding and it's not just John and I who have that sentiment it's in our entire team that really appreciate you know what we do and how we help people and and what this equipment allows people to grow from recirculated fresh water in an indoor farming application we move now to free-flowing fresh water in Richland County where Mark McCauley of Pine River paddle and tube leads float trips down the Pine River some friends and I enjoyed a day kayaking the river last spring [Music] [Music] bang kayak-fishing for three years now I got into it actually I was looking to get a fishing boat I was I was fishing out of a flat bottomed boat and had an electric motor and and I see I ran into some packed fishermen locally fell in love with it and got rid of the boat as soon as I got the fishing kayak because I can go anywhere for longer I can fish longer fish shallow I've been and where I'm pushing myself in inches of water up a creek and you can get places where the bass boats can't it never caught bigger fish in my life fishing kayaks it used to be you take a recreational kayak put some rod holders in it and take it out now these are very fishing specific they have a wide open deck most fishing kayaks at higher end ones have a raised seat so you can get a better perspective the water it's more comfortable a spot for a sonar here you can actually on this one you can drop in a pedal drive in place of the sonar and then the the hull design is it's a try tune underneath so it's very stable so if you stand up in that pontoon kicks in then the boats kind of sticks to the water you can stand up and fish you can stand up on the nose and fish paddle it it's very stable very comfortable so there are some tools with kayak fishing that are specific to kayak fishing that differ from traditional kayaking one being the paddle this paddle is specific for kayak fishing it has a slightly different blade design to push more water it's still light but it's it's durable some traditional light paddles tend to be less durable these they need to hold up to banging on rocks trees etc also the shaft has a tape measure built on it it's handy for a quick measure of fish then the lifejacket this is fishing specific lots of pockets on it lots of areas to tie equipment to I have my line cutter here my tether for my phone and then it's also less restrictive for paddling the arms are open the back is thin so it's comfortable against the seat your traditional thick back lifejackets tend to get uncomfortable in a kayak seat I've donated a few items to the river the main thing is to either tether or float everything on the river and current usually tether and float if possible but I have rod floats on all my rods that way if they go in I can retrieve them especially in the lake all my electronics are either waterproof as they are and tethered to the boat or in a waterproof bag [Music] the nice thing about kayak fishing is you can spend as little or as much as you want that allows for a wide range of budgets and people can move up as they have more budget and there's no maintenance I mean it's a plastic boat the to repair it is just a heat gun to repair any stret scratches you know plastic welding rods if there's any holes you put an electric motor on it just the battery so it's very low maintenance people are sometimes shocked by the price the higher end ones but then when they realize the maintenance and fuel of a traditional boat and the storage and the insurance they they realize that is not that bad [Music] it's a lot of fun it's it takes some getting used to it it's a different technique you have to plan more your launches and distances but I've never caught bigger fish in my life because you can get places where the bass boats can't go and I don't have to worry about the fuel the fumes the batteries forgetting the keys at home for getting the drain plug but I just throw in the back of my truck throw it in the water anywhere I want launch or not and off I go [Music] earlier in the show we learned about a modern form of food production called aquaponics and that's what's going on behind me right here at the UWM school of freshwater sciences now let's join Emmy Fink for a visit to a place called farm wise that's both the traditional down-to-earth farm and the summer day camp where kids can not only learn where their food comes from but also have a hand in growing it themselves [Music] so all these children actually feel this is their farm and I think when you actually do some work where there's a real purpose at the other end the kids sort of connect to why they're here on the planet giving kids ages 6 through 12 hands-on farming experience my family's from Chicago and I've lived in Chicago my whole life before I started coming to farm wise it was city life I mean I would never expect to see a cow and take care of it and milk it but I mean coming up here it's a whole different aspect of what we see every day and just seeing how the food gets from the garden to the plate it just it really gives you a new appreciation for farmers and what they do and being a farmer just it it's really amazing it's a great experience what brings you back here year after year my brother and I we've been going here for five years and we loved every minute of it [Music] the importance of singing that you bring to the weekly camp I know it's really near and dear to your heart tell us about that though we sing three times a day in the old days it was the only thing they had to lighten the heaviness that work can be so when I hear these songs from all over the world that I try to teach them be sung from another corner of the farm it's the ultimate joy for me so let's get off the thing so where's our time today oh yeah kids learn so much about being immersed in it that all kids have to try all things at least once each workgroup as you have seen this it's not the same age there's all kinds of ages so they practice helping each other and giving the little one a break five or six first and see how that goes so these kids are making cr̻pes three ingredients eggs that they found in the chicken coop milk that then will be cooked it's from the cow how do you have the patience to have all of this going on all of these kids in your home get the next generation to be capable and they love it you know vente and farm cam has changed me in multiple ways but it gave me a new appreciation for the animals and the food that we get when you work with what you eat you kind of start to appreciate it a lot more it's also made me way more active in my lifestyle and has inspired me to get outdoors a lot today we will be digging up these invasive plants known as a thistle commercially they spray these if we don't get rid of them and that would ruin the biodynamic effect here so we dig them up by a shovel we need to get the roots and we will put them in a pile to a dry in the Sun and we like to do this as a competition for every group to see how many they can get so you can give Walter the man of the house and accurate port of how many weeds left his property so that's I'd be going on will have ten minutes to dig as a group here all right let's bring it in let's bring our hands in all right do you guys do we have a group name because we want to win this cut away come on bring it in we're gonna say we're gonna say this laundry I like it damn we're gonna think this'll on three ready 1 2 3 come on group this so let's go let's go whistle yep yeah I could have gotten a little farther yes that's good enough so throw it here but I'm a newbie I'm a newbies this'll be number one the trick is if you grab it low enough oh there we go I think that's the first route I actually got okay 19 I'm not quite sure how they figure it out but this gives a whole new meaning to the number of hooks in the kitchen but it's working this is fresh apple with a little lemon on it that where are you Joseph Joseph and grace then that's right bananas this needs a little spoon in it and granola and the so what do you love most about being here on the farm accounts and do you think you want to be a farmer someday still kind of thinking about a book yeah well you're seven you know there's time there's plenty of time thanks ray high five so into the into the tub so we can wash them where the children come here and even within the first few days feel responsible for the upkeep of the place and it stirs something in them that is very unique they are called to responsibilities in a way that they aren't in in their lives in other ways how rewarding is this for you to see the kids from the start of the week to the end of the week and these five days that kids come here it feels like what it was only five days because it's been so deep experiences just simply finding an egg and realizing it's warm and you see their little mind go well of course it would be what warm wouldn't it the chicken was warm inside those feathers right so like a lot of connections and and not just understanding with feeling themselves a part of things you know that they found a new aspect of themselves you have raised three sons most people at your stage of life are grateful for the quiet in the house and to not have the mess and you every week welcome 25 new kids to come and experience life on your property you are truly giving back in a way that very few dual farms are kind of lonesome places unless you invite people to come and participate so I sure it's gonna be nice after eight full weeks like this to have a little peaceful time here nevertheless I wouldn't feel meaningful myself just sitting here fiddling around I don't need to eat the whole garden it's just my husband and myself right yeah so let's use it up I love that love the animals and I love everything about this camp and this agriculture as the whole is just an amazing world we'll wrap things up this week here in cashews Park on Jones Island it's the smallest parcel of public land in the City of Milwaukee and it's right across the Kinnickinnic River from the school of freshwater sciences to learn more about the school and this week's features visit the Milwaukee PBS Facebook page or log on to Milwaukee PBS org and click on outdoor Wisconsin well next time Tracy Newman attends a race that takes walking the dog to a whole new level Emmy Fink attends a practice session of the aquanauts water-ski team in twin lakes and I'll visit a Buck Skinner's rendezvous in Sparta saying goodbye from khushu park I'm Dan small join us again next week for outdoor Wisconsin some of the five winners spring-green beta where the st.

croix sales from Kettle Moraine to superior short outdoor Wisconsin outdoor Wisconsin [Music].

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