Profitability of Small-scale Aquaponics

November 26, 2023 by
Profitability of Small-scale Aquaponics
Regen Aquaculture, Sam Funk
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💡  A recent study was conducted to determine the profitability of a commercial-scale aquaponics farm dedicated to tilapia and lettuce production. By integrating design and operational data into a techno-economic analysis(TEA), parameters such as initial investment cost, annual operating costs, market value of lettuce, and labor costs were calculated to evaluate whether or not the operation would prove profitable.  

📌 Research Highlights:
▶ The study considered a typical mid-size commercial farm with a grow bed space of 62–63 m2 and a 1400 gallon fish tank growing tilapia and leafy lettuce in Ohio. 
▶ Of this farm’s initial investment cost of $69,600, 42% was dedicated to the greenhouse. Annual operating costs were between $31,100-$33,300, with labor accounting for 52% of the cost.
▶ Using the market value of lettuce in conjunction with the dedicated grow space, a cash flow analysis determined the system would be profitable with a positive net present value between $9,000-$12,200. Incorporating an automated water quality monitoring system significantly reduced labor costs and increased the net present value to $55,545.

🎯 According to the study, organic produce is priced 18% higher than non-organic produce, and incorporating aquaponics into this price point proved economic viability.  In order for economic viability to be ascertained, an understanding of operational factors such as water re-circulation rates, solid removal rates, and feed adjustments, as well as an understanding of technological inputs is necessary to reduce labor inputs and to increase internal rate of return. 

📷 Image: The introduction and cycle of antibiotics in an aquaculture system (Source: Santos and Ramos, 2018)


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Profitability of Small-scale Aquaponics
Regen Aquaculture, Sam Funk November 26, 2023
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