"In aquaponic farming, modules minimize risks"

Aquaponics is gaining popularity in Oregon, and as producers build their systems they can reduce their risk by starting small and designing their operations in modules, a commercial aquaponic producer says.

Doing that allows a scalable operation that can be more easily expanded and isolates any problems that arise, said Joel Kelly, CEO of Live Local Organic, a commercial aquaponic farm in Milwaukie, Ore.

The Oregon Aquaculture Association sponsored a conference on aquaponics last weekend at Western Oregon University. In the Pacific Northwest, tilapia and coy fish are usually used in aquaponics, said Kate Wildrick, co-chair of the conference. She said the number of aquaponic farms in the region is still relatively small.

Kelly discussed some of the challenges of aquaponic farming on a commercial scale at the conference.

“I think (aquaponics) is possible on any kind of a scale, but I think what has to happen is it has to be modular,” he said.

The idea is to take a small, simple system that works and then replicate it as many times as you have space or resources for in order to produce more crops and fish, Kelly said.

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