Farming at Sea
June 26, 2009 at 11:00 pm #6728
Ever considered mushrooms?
Mushrooms can be grown quickly and pretty much everywhere in trays on top of eachother. They need very little light, a lot of water and some ventillation. They can provide a very large, steady supply of biomass suited for human consumption, animal feed or composting. Shitake mushrooms can contain around 75% stach (dry weight) for instance, and can very well replace wheat or potatoes in an environment where space is limited.August 30, 2009 at 10:31 pm #7631
I just read about a tree that actually fertilizes the soil around it… might prove to be useful:August 31, 2009 at 7:23 am #7633
http://www.cityfarmer.info/ is an internet news magazine on urban farming. I like the aquaponic unit here, http://www.cityfarmer.info/biosphere-home-farming-from-philips-designers/#more-2028 . I’ve done both soil and hydroponic and found hydroponic much easier to do and automate. It was much harder to maintain the proper moisture content and fertilization in soil over the several months from seed to harvest while hydroponics was a simple matter of just maintaining Ph, nutrient concentration, temperature, lighting, and adequate aeration of the nutrient solution. My vegetables took half the time from seed to harvest, 6 weeks, than that of growing by soil. A lot of the people on this list, coming from a technical background, would probably find hydroponics much easier. It doesn’t take a green thumb – it is just a matter of following instructions, measurement, and control with a consistant, predictable outcome.September 13, 2009 at 10:01 pm #7719
I am glad to see someone thinking of the biological/ecological issues involved in seasteading. Too much emphasis has been placed on engineering designs, and very little on the ecology of a seastead.
Aquaculture, both plant and animal, will be a natural consequence of a seasteady colony — not only in providing food for self-sufficiency but also in trade with landlubbers. Fish, shellfish, and algae will contribute much of the main nutrients we will need — protein, carbs, and fats. It is likely that once we establish fish farms that we will produce more than we will need for our own use. In fact, providing fresh fruits and veggies to trade with passing boats will be a valuable service we can render, and a source of income to use in buying needed goods and service from landlubbers.
A related issue is the recovery of resources more commonly known as waste processing. A colony of just 100 Aquarians will generate several tonnes of waste daily. Of that waste, a significant portion, about 400 kilograms, will include feces and urine and flush water. These “wastes” contain valuable resources for plant cultures. The wise seasteader will process the waste stream of the colony to extract these resources to use in aquafarming and agriculture. Just flushing our wastes over into the sea is environmentally unsound, and financially nonsense. If we do not provide for the recovery of these valuable components, then we will need to import nutrients for our crops. If we elect to dump our wastes, we run the risk of fouling our own waters and contaminating our own aquacultural production.
Part of the process of resource recovery will likely include a bio-digestor that will generate methane (natural gas) for power production. Methane generation is a relatively low-tech means of meeting energy needs when the sun doesn’t shine and the wind is not blowing. As NG generators can be started and stopped on demand, power thus generated makes for flexibility in adjusting the local power grid to increasing and decreasing energy demands.
It is important that we give as much, and maybe more thought to the biological systems of a seastead than we do to engineering the structure.
//ENDSeptember 20, 2009 at 2:33 am #7821
One point to note about waste (in the form of feces and urine): it’s mostly water.
I had a chance to tour the waste water treatment facility at McMurdo Station, where they clean up exactly that sort of waste for a station that has about 150 people each winter and reaching a maximum of over 1200 during the summer, and once they have extracted all the solid waste for the season, they put it in boxes and ship it back the US to be disposed of. The notable thing is that I was informed that it only takes a few pallets – with boxes maybe four feet cubed – to do this.
Once the waste water has been cleaned, the almost-pure-enough-to-drink remainder is dumped into the ocean.
The point here is that we should not overestimate how much valuable fertilizer or other materials we can extract from such a process.
Likewise, we should not overestimate how much money we can make by selling fresh vegetables to passing ships, which are likely to have little more than a score of crew members.
Farming on the seas is certainly worth pursuing, but it is unlikely to bring immediate and large financial gains. I expect there will be an extended period of farming as a hobby first.September 20, 2009 at 6:53 pm #7823
I took the same tour when I was down there. I never thought to ask the question about the disposal of the solid waste though: I figured they tilled it into the garden…September 20, 2009 at 8:28 pm #7826
I think I will pass on drinking the water from my own urine, no matter how “almost-pure-enough-to-drink” might be! Not that I have a problem w/it but it will cost less to run a watermaker than to filter urine,…Also, I dont think that the methane from 400 kilos of s…would make any sense. It will “cost” more energy to produce, and store it. I also dont see how 100 seasteaders will generate soooooo much waste,…several tons. More like half a ton max.September 23, 2009 at 9:14 am #7859
I took the same tour when I was down there. I never thought to ask the question about the disposal of the solid waste though: I figured they tilled it into the garden…
From what I hear the Waste Water Treatment Plant is a new one – one of the newest on station – though I don’t know what year it was built, or if it is the same one that was here when you took the tour. (At one point, I think they just dumped raw sewage.)
In any case, the greenhouse doesn’t use any soil anyhow – and it’s generally frowned on to use human waste as fertilizer or compost for food. That’s how diseases are spread.
BTW, Raytheon had their contract extended for another year while the NSF makes up their collective mind.September 25, 2009 at 1:22 am #7870
but back in the Operation Deep Freeze days when the Navy ran the show, they probably did just dump it! As for spreading diseases through using human waste used as fertilizer, there are very different takes on that. Cool about Raytheon, I’ll look into it when I get back. No surprise about the NSF though…lol;)October 7, 2009 at 11:59 pm #8031October 10, 2009 at 10:51 am #8105
I dont think a tree that fertilizes soil with nitrogen is really necesarry, it isnt really practical to use trees, i would go for soy beans n such for nitrogen… by cycling crops and planting soy beans time to time would be sufficient enough as far as i know. And it may turn to be far more useful than a tree. What do you guys think of agriculture in a seastead colony? Which crops, algae or fish should be given prio?
I would go for green peas,soy beans etc as crops prio. Kelp, spiruluna as algae prio… I don’t have a clue about what kind of shrimp,crab n fish to go for since i dont have any solid knowledge about cultivating fish.October 14, 2009 at 12:47 pm #8241
Can someone please give me somelinks about hydroponics and aeroponics.
I need detailed information though, wikipedia links and such won’t do.
I need costs for construction facilities (on ground not at seastead)
and if possible a link with possible designs on hydroponic and aeroponic greenhouses.
I m asking for too much I suppose but I’ll really appreciate your helpOctober 14, 2009 at 3:50 pm #8243
Google is your friend.
If you want to look at a company that sells off-the-shelf aeroponics equipment look at Aeroponics International, which is a division of Agrihouse.
They sell everything, including full turn-key aeroponic systems.November 14, 2009 at 8:10 pm #8668
I remember reading about 20 years ago, that it took the manure of about 40 dairy cows to produce enough methane to cook for a family of 4, so it’s not really practical as a primary energy source. On the other hand, a methane digester is an excellent liquid manure composter, if you primarily used it for that and just trapped the methane as a minor side product, that may be practical. You need to do something with the shit after all; and it works better as fertilizer if it has been composted first.December 30, 2009 at 8:51 am #9062
I’ve writen something of floating farms that the new comers should see.
Its not new but with geocities demize I decided to post it as new. Its on my new, very hard to edit, yahoo site.
For everyone’s information I was involved with the original Oceania Project in a small way. I’m also in several space organisations. And I have a Degree in sustainable Development, sustainable agriculture and renewable energy,water and sewerage.
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