FISH FARMING TECHNOLOGY environmental footprint so why locate hundreds or even thousands of miles from your customers? Finance is a big subject; the initial cost can be reduced to a fraction if care is taken. I can expand with capital derived from existing profits but only because I do all the construction myself. The farms I supply for clients are in kit form; they supply the infrastructure and construct the tanks etc. themselves, cutting out the expense of outside contractors. That way the operators also have an intimate knowledge of how their equipment functions and it’s ‘theirs’. Large companies usually have an underused site somewhere and underemployed labour at certain times of the year. New entrants can get a bargain by finding a site where a badly conceived project has gone bust! The money invested in a project has to be recovered from profits, the penny pinching has to start right at the beginning, large grants and generous investors lead to a profligate mind-set. Start modestly and expand prudently in a new and largely untested field of endeavour. Be adaptable to the local planning laws. Here in England, any farming enterprise is allowed to take 20cu m of water from an aquifer per day without a license and erect a 400sq m building without planning. That’s enough for a 50 tonne salmon RAS unit, so maybe a series of small units is a better way to go. A geographical spread may help with the local marketing too.
A quick Google Images search for RAS systems show that most installations comprise a single centralised filter unit supplying a range of tanks. Without going into the
intricacies of RAS design, this to my mind is inherently risky, why put all your eggs in one basket? Elegance and efficiency of design is very important, I hate to see a 90-degree elbow in a water pipe where a long radius bend could be installed instead. My farms consist of single standalone tank modular units, each with dual circulation, multiple pumps, overlarge filters and settlement chambers. The oxygen system is completely separate, electrical circuits are split and duplicated, the alarm is completely stand-alone and a computer is not allowed anywhere near the place! This is a business where one small error could lead to the loss of two years production and that’s over a 25-year equipment life expectancy; low technology is more reliable, especially in the 100 percent humidity of a fish rearing building. There must be a name for it but the overriding principle is of reducing vulnerability. A constant asking of the question ‘What if this piece of equipment fails?’ and if it does will it lead to a cascade of failure or will the other elements of the system continue to function? Everyone involved needs to be able to sleep at night, believe me I know this! Individual units give great production flexibility, allow incremental expansion, reduce disease risks and allow low cost evolution of design. I would say the reason for not adopting this route would normally be an outside contractor’s cost, but with an in-house construction team the advantages become overwhelming. My production cycle is indoors for the first 15 months, two winters and a summer, then nine months finishing in large outdoor tanks over a final summer and autumn. That
International Aquafeed - July 2017 | 39
Published on Jul 4, 2017