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Floating Bamboo Planter for Aquaculture System By Cylburn Acuaponics Farm

Our Aim: The aim of this project is to create a raft that will support plants and float within an aquaculture tank. Most aquaculture projects use styrofoam as their floating support, a material that requires a lot of energy to produce and is often treated with potentially hazardous chemicals. Our aim is to create a floating raft out of accessible, recycled materials that are food safe. The structural frame of the raft is bamboo, a sustainable building material that grows very quickly and is very strong. The surface that supports the plants is made of a recycled plastic mesh called polyflo. This material is ideal for aquaculture because its mesh structure provides ample 3-dimensional surface area for bacteria to grow in. With flat surfaces such as Styrofoam or plastic, bacteria can only grow on one plane.

To Build One Planter You will Requre: Tools: 1 Hand Saw 2 Clamps 1 Chisel 1 Pair of Heavy duty scissors 1 Pair of Pliers 1 Measuring Tool 1Power Drill with Large Bit

Materials: 2 Pieces of Bamboo 2’ Long Each 2 Pieces of Bamboo 4’ Long Each 2 Pieces of Bamboo 2’ Long Split into Quarters 1 Piece Polyflo fabric 2’ by 4’ 20 Plastic Zip Ties 12-36 Net pots 2” L.E.C.A (Lightweight Expanded Clay Aggregate)-these look like little clay balls 12-36 Plant Starts 8 Collected Plastic Bottles 16oz

NOTE: For this project each raft was built 2ft by 4ft in order to fit adequately in the size of our tank. The raft size can be altered according to the dimensions of your tank.

Step One: Cut Stock to Length

Cut pieces of bamboo into 4ft by 2 ft pieces. Whenever possible cut pieces so that the node (area that separates straight growth) is on each end. This creates a “cap� so that the lap joints are less likely to split the bamboo in an inconvenient way.

Step Two: Measure Diameter

Measure the diameter of a 2 ft piece of bamboo. This diameter will determine the width of the lap joints cut into the 4ft piece. Mark the width at the end of a 4ft piece, one inch away from the end. Do the same with the 4 ft piece, measuring its diameter and marking the width onto the 2 ft piece, one inch away from the end.

Step Three: Cut Lap Joints

On the marked lines, cut two parralell lines in the bamboo about halfway through. On the opposite side of the piece, do the same thing. You are severing the grain lengthwise so that the center piece can be removed easily.

Align a chisel parallel to the grain of the bamboo in between the two cuts. The chisel should be placed at the bottom edge of the cut. Hit chisel with mallet until the bamboo breaks between the two cuts. Repeat on opposite side. Once both sides are chiseled, the half circle piece of the bamboo will pop out. Repeat on other side of bamboo Note: It is especially important in the cutting and chiseling of the bamboo that the bottom of the cuts all end at the same level. This will ensure that when you chisel the pieces out, the flat space on either end are on the same plane. This is essential for the bamboo fitting tightly together.

Step Four: Drill Drainage Holes

Insert 2 drill holes into every closed section of bamboo. This provides a drainage point for water so that the bamboo does not become waterlogged. While planning these holes be sure that you are aware of which side will be submerged in the water. Coordinate the ends with lap joints so that it makes sense to you. It may help to roughly assemble the frame before drilling so you can envision it completed.

Step Five: Repeat Steps

Repeat steps 2-4 on three other pieces of bamboo. You should have two pairs of bamboo with matching lengths.

Step Six: Nest the Lap Joints

Once your four pieces of bamboo have the lap joints cut out, it is time to attach them. Overlap the bamboo so that the notches nest in each other. There should be as little wiggle room as possible.

Step Seven: Secure the Corners

Take the plastic tie and wrap it diagonally around the corners of the connected bamboo. Join strip tie and tighten with pliers.

Step eight: Attach THe Polyflo

Take the 2ft by 4ft sheet of polyflo fabric and lay it on top of frame. Thread plastic tie through the polyfill one inch from the edge and around bamboo frame. Each Frame requires two plastic ties on each side.

Step Nine: Attach The Bottles

Remove all stickers and labels from plastic bottles. With two zip ties per bottle, attach bottles parallel to pieces of split bamboo. Bottles will butt up against one another in the center, leaving two inches clear on either side of bamboo. These will serve as the flotation and support for the raft. Slide these pieces of bamboo between the frame and the polyfill, with the bottles on the underside of the polyfill.

Step Ten: Insert Net Pots

Decide which size net pots to use for your planting purposes. Plants with larger stalks and root systems will require a larger net pot while plants with narrow roots and stalks can be placed in 2 inch net pots. To cut the holes for the net pot use heavy duty shears? Cut three lines in the polyflow that intersect in the middle, that are the diameter of your net pot. This will create six points that should be pushed inward to create a hole. Take the net pot and push narrow end through the hole. The top ridge of the net pot should sit flush with the top of the polyflow. . Leave 3 inches in between each net pot to allow room for plants to grow. In our model we alternated between rows of three and rows of four net pots in order to save space by place rows closer together. You will not be able to place net pots where the supports beams are, so plan accordingly to fit the net pots most efficiently.

Step Eleven: Plant Seed Starts

Pull your plant start out of the soil and shake off as much soil from its roots as possible. Place plant starts into net pots. Add the L.E.C.A. around the plant starts, keeping the stem as centered and erect as possible. The L.E.C.A. should come up to just below the plants true leaves. Fill all the net pots.

Step Twelve: Test Completed Raft

Take your completed raft and place in your aquaculture system! Make sure plant roots are touching the water.

The Cylburn Aquaponics Farm was designed and built by David Love with the Johns Hopkins Center for Livable Future

for more information about our project: for more information about The Center for a Livable Future:

This Manual was Created by: Dana Bechert Zoe Axelrod Aviva Paley

For More Inormation about the Creaters of this Manual:

Made in: Baltimore, Maryland 2012

Bamboo Aquaculture Raft  

by The Cylburn Aquaculture Project