The facility consists of a 36’ x 130’ greenhouse with an attached 30’ x 80’ steel structure fish house. In traditional aquaculture operations, fish are grown at high density stocking levels and the waste produced by the fish must be removed to prevent toxicity and damage to the fish. The primary waste from fish is in the form of ammonia nitrogen. Typically the water in an aquaculture system is exchanged with fresh water and the waste water is redirected down stream, where it can cause nitrate pollution. In hydroponics, plants are fed a nutrient rich solution while growing in a soilless environment. The fertilizers needed for hydroponics can be very costly and are usually derived from inorganic chemicals. Aquaponics combines these two practices by using beneficial bacteria to convert the ammonia from the fish waste into useable nitrates desired by plants as a primary source of nutrition. The plants’ root structures filter the water, removing the nitrogens so that the water can be returned to the fish. This eliminates toxic build up in the fishes’ environment thus promoting a much healthier fish. Plants grown in aquaponics are of high quality and express desirable characteristics such as increased flavor, aroma, size. There are also statistics available that will show that Aqauponic produce contains a much higher level of vitamins and beneficial minerals such as potassium, calcium, and iron.
This type of agriculture has been utilized around the world for centuries in geographic locations that are dependent on water conservation. This type of agriculture has been reported to use 80% less water than conventional practices. The Quatrix facility sparingly uses a daily average of 100 gallon of water to feed nearly 9000 heads of lettuce, more than 100 flats of wheat grass, and a 200 plus stalks of basil. To further reduce the company’s carbon foot print; the facility utilizes a 100 ton subterranean rock bed. The system design has been shown to reduce heating and cooling cost nearly 50% compared to conventional greenhouses.
The 5000 square foot greenhouse is a state of the art facility. No expenses were spared when the system was designed. The structures were engineered to withstand winds of 120mph and a 4’ snow pack on it’s roof. It’s polycarbonate shell will stop hail stones the size of baseballs and blocks out 99% of the UV rays produced by the sun. This aids in the amount of water a plant will transpire and keeps it’s workers from getting sun burned. The facility is also equipped with a micro climate controller. It utilizes outdoor temperatures, wind speeds, and humidity to create the perfect growing environment inside the greenhouse.
With a facility this technologically inclined, Quatrix is able to produce the same amount of produce and fish in the winter as they do in the summer. Colorado is the perfect location for an application of this nature. With it’s abundance of sunny days, the greenhouse will average 70* day time temperatures all winter. With the increased growing season, a facility of this sized can compete with a conventional 4 acre plot. The ability to produce a consistent product year round has been very advantageous when generating relationships with local customers.