Book Review of Joel Malcolms "Backyard Aquaponics"

Discussion in 'Planting, growing, nurturing Plants' started by christopher, Nov 13, 2005.

  1. christopher

    christopher Junior Member

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    To avoid filling in with the waving emoticons, traditionally deployed everytime "aquaponics" is mentioned, they will apppear once, here
    :wav: and hence forth they will march back where they came from (UNDERSTAND, GUYS?) "Yeah, guv, we was on our way back right now...."


    A review of Joel Malcolms “Backyard Aquaponics”, by Christopher

    Joel Malcolm is a famous innovator of Aquaponics living in Perth, Australia. He has written and published an excellent package which includes a book, a DVD and a CD called Backyard Aquaponics.

    Aquaponics, as described in Joels book is a very simple and efficient system involving aquaculture and hydroponics. The system is dependent on plants in grow beds, generally pea gravel, being used to filter out fish manure and other material while aerating the water to maintain oxygen levels for the fish. The system in Joels book is a very attractive and is very productive while using a minimum amount of space..

    Backyard Aquaponics is a package comprised of a book, a DVD and a CD.

    The book is substantial, with plenty of information on the function and creation of aquaponics systems. The information is presented in a clear way, and each chapter leads to the next chapter. Questions that arise while reading generally are answered further on in the text.

    The book is broken down into several chapters, spread out over 113 pages of text, photos, graphs and diagrams. The first chapter, “So What Is Aquaponics” explains the concept and components involved in such systems.

    Joel does a good job in pulling the reader into the wonderful world of aquaponics by creating a seductive and idyllic picture of the productive system in his backyard. The photos of his grow beds overflowing with veggies are, frankly, to this writer, nothing short of awe inspiring.

    The second chapter is “Designing and Building A System”, which discusses the many ways to get from nothing to a productive system in your backyard with fish and vegetable production.

    Joel discusses the merits of many types of materials and components, and explains how he arrived at the types of components he did. He mentions his preferences, and discusses various alternatives to those components.

    He discusses growing media, his grow bed irrigation system and draining system, the flows of water in the system, and the mistakes he has made, while also sharing on experiences of others.

    His system is designed using corrugated iron tanks special buit to his specifications. He also discusses other tank designs, and offers sound reasoning behind his decision to go with corrugated iron tanks.

    Joel uses corrugated iron tanks for both his grow beds and his fish tanks.

    The third chapter is devoted to Systems Designs, and covers flood and drain and continuous flow systems. This chapter, like the previous chapters, is well written, and full of information.

    This chapter has excellent diagrams of potential system designs, and has detailed information on the components needed to build an aquaponics system like Joel has built. It is based in his system design and includes diagrams showing water flows between the components of the system.

    The first part of the fourth chapter, called “The Fish” , covers the needs fish require to maintain health and grow, covering stocking densities and feed quantities.

    The balance of the chapter is about the various fish a potential aquaponics system could have. While the information presented in this part of the chapter is Australian centric, a discerning reader outside of Australia could most likely find species whose needs and attributes were suitable for tank based aquaculture in an aquaponics system in their region.

    The chapter discusses eight species of finfish and several species of freshwater crustaceans.

    The fifth Chapter entitled The Plants, is about the various plant species that can be produced in grow beds in an aquaponics system. It draws heavily on Joels personal experience and is written, as is most of the book, with a contagious enthusiasm that radiates from the page.

    Joel discussed various plant species and their suitability for use in an aquaponics system and encourages the reader to “Experiment, experiment, experiment.”

    The photo of a grow bed overflowing with several different species of plants is an extremely compelling argument in favor of the aquaponics system.

    The sixth Chapter, “Building a System” covers the building of Joels system from beginning to end. It is full of photos and offers many tips on construction.

    This is the most substantial chapter, very dense with information, showing each of the steps Joel took between conceptualizing and completion of the system. It discusses how he designed the system, and shows shis work. It covers building the structure that houses his system, how the tanks were placed, how the system will work and energy flows internal to the system.

    It has a lot of information covering the time between system completion and the first harvest, as well as general maintaince information.

    The chapter also includes information on planting regimes, what to look for in sourcing plants or seed, and how to stock the system with fish. With intriguing photos of the completed system, there is plenty of information about how the system operates.

    The chapter ends on a very good discussion of the problems of food production and transportation. As elsewhere in the book, Joel does a very good job of presenting information in an accessible manner.

    The book is peppered with humour, and Joel, who is obviously well informed on issues of food production, aquaponics chemistry, soil science and regional food security, never talks down to the reader.

    The book is well written in a friendly manner that is easy to understand, and enjoyable to read.

    Armed with this book, I would feel confident to build such a system.

    The book by itself gives enough information to establish such a system, however, the other two components pf the Backyard Aquaponics package, the accompanying DVD and CD, are both informative and augment the information in the book with visually appealing clips of Joel and his system.


    The DVD has three featurettes covering Flood and Drain systems, Continuous Flow systems, a clip showing the phenomenal growth rate of the vegetables produced in his system, as well as a picture show and some “extra bits Unsorted”.

    Joel provides the narrative, with piano accompaniment. The clips show the system at work while discussing the principles of the systems Joel is describing. Joel describes how the components work, and the video shows clearly how the system is set up.

    Most of the information in the clips is covered in the book, but seeing the systems physically is a valuable tool to further illustrate the workings of the system, as well as the incredible growth rates of Joel’s vegetables. The DVD component in the Backyard Aquaponics package is very valuable, not to mention enjoyable and inspirational.

    The CD has many slide shows as well as excellent Excel documents which cover such topics as Barra growth, pumping cycles, and a materials list to replicate a system like Joel’s. It is a wonderful supplement to the information in the book and DVD.

    The author of this review had no regional problems reading the DVD, despite being in another region, nor did I experience any formatting problems using the CD with a Macintosh computer.

    Joels system is a very impressive accomplishment, noteworthy for its limited resource use, and its productivity. Backyard Aquaponics is a wonderfully informative package of information, a significant contribution to promoting regional food production, and a fantastic resource.

    His book and accompanying DVD and CD are wonderfully informative and inspiring. Anyone even remotely interested ion aquaponics would do well to purchase the set.

    It is a very good book. THIS REVIEWER GIVES IT 5 STARS OUT OF A POSSIBLE 4 1/2 STARS (off the charts, basically)

    It can be purchased through Joel Malcoms web site, https://www.backyardaquaponics.com .
     
  2. earthbound

    earthbound Junior Member

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    Wow, thanks C......... :D :D :D Mind if I use that...?
     
  3. baldcat

    baldcat Junior Member

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    Now Joel this is where you put a little TESTIMONALS page in the last empty cell in your nav bar... :)
     
  4. christopher

    christopher Junior Member

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    Joel,

    If you can mine usable tidbits from in there, please feel free to use it. Anything to further the cause! ¡Hasta Aquaponics, :)wav:) y Victoria, Siempre! Viva Presidente Joel!

    Subcomadante Christobal
     
  5. psychochook

    psychochook Junior Member

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    I just want to put a comment here. I was going to send an e-mail but think that it is suitable to this thread....

    I am one of those people who, when reading this forum and find a posting I tend to look at the link and think "must check that site some day".

    Joels web-site was one of those sites. Anyway, on the weekend, after reading where Joel was answering questions on another thread, I decided it was time I had a look at his web-site.

    Wow. :shock: :shock: :shock: Having looked at his site I have put his book/dvd at the top of my "must get" shopping list. Absolutely fascinating. If you have not had a look I strongly suggest you do!!!!


    ps...Joel, if you see this posting I have one small suggestion for your web-site. Can you add forward & back arrows with all your photos. I looked at all of them and it did get a bit tedious having to click on the photo, then back, then the next photo. It would have been better to just click on a "next" arrow...
     
  6. Cornonthecob

    Cornonthecob Junior Member

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    Christopher, you didn't mention the nice pictures on the dvd and cd!

    :)
     
  7. christopher

    christopher Junior Member

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    Additionally, included in the book, DVD and CD there are myriad wonderful pictures.
     
  8. Cornonthecob

    Cornonthecob Junior Member

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    lol..nah I meant on the front of the dvd and cd....lol sorry...was being silly

    :)
     
  9. christopher

    christopher Junior Member

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    On the front of the CD and the DVD, there are yet more amziingly inspirational pictures.
     
  10. earthbound

    earthbound Junior Member

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    Thanks for the feedback Simon I'll keep that in mind when I'm redoing that section of the site, which will probably be fairly soon as I have more photos and bits of video to add to the site...
     
  11. psychochook

    psychochook Junior Member

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    I look forward to seeing them......
     
  12. earthbound

    earthbound Junior Member

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    Well your pushing me, is getting somewhere C, I just send off an article and the package to earth garden magazine, not that you would know what that is... :? Like mother earth magazine in the US. :D

    How did your job go, not too many hitches I hope
    ??
     
  13. christopher

    christopher Junior Member

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    Joel,

    Nice to hear you are working towards a future as THE aquaponcs :wav: guru. I have complete faith in you!

    The job went well. We went out in a squall, soaking wet, huge waves, a skiff nearly swamping from overload, and me terrified because the previous week a boat lost power and floated out past the reef, on its way to, well, perhaps Jamaica before it got rescued.... and one person died.

    The trip was a real white knuckler, huge waves, the boat slamming over them, taking water, baling water, ... but after 4 hours, which would have been an hour and 15 minutes other wise, we made it...

    Hunting Cay is beautiful. I have heard stories of it for years, but never been there, so going was a great treat. The cay itself is about 12 acres in size, with a nice protected beach on the west side, facing Belize forty miles away, and the ocean side has the reef, with crashing waves and the deep blue ocean beyond. There is a beautiful beach there, too, and you can swim out to the reef for diving from the beach.

    It is an idealicaly beautiful place, an emerald jewel, with all the various shades of green you can think of, frosted on top of white sand, surrounded on all sides by blue, many many many shades of blue, from the aquamrine blue of the shallows to the deep, deep blue of the outside of the reef.

    Hunting Cay has a few houses clustered on the south side, a small Belize Defense Force base (two or three soldiers fishing all day, :lol: ), a light house, with a house for the light house keepers, and a brand new building, large, well constructed (lots of sheetrock), for the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef System, a local NGO, whic was desperately in need of a well designed, professionally installed solar system, hence the arrivel of Dr Cwis!

    The cay has sea almond trees, some kind of small edible fig on a tree that is huge, "sea grape", coconuts, more coconuts, and coconuts, and, all over the island, patches of noni trees. The cay has a nice green covering of cannavalia maritimus, and there is virtually no soil, just sand from dead coral, which, BTW, is worthless for construction.

    Noni is the newest, latest, most hyped fruit tree... with medicinal qualities reputed to be on par with miracle water. Lowers cholesterol, restores bowl function, um, puts lead in your pencil, good for the heart, wonderful tasting, and it has a faintly fecal smell, which many people can't get past. (I am drinking a noni/limejuice/sugar water beverage right now, yummmmmmmmmm)

    Noni is morinda citrifolia.... a smaller tree that grows to 7 meters height, with lateral branches, larger leaves, and is loaded with fruit. It flowers at one year of age (!).

    Back to the work. The work involved building a rack, wiring the panels, prewiring the power system, mounting the inverter and charge controller, installing the wind turbine, assembling the battery bank.

    To describe the system: the system is comprised of five 125 watt BP solar panels wired at 12vdc, fed into a 880 amp hour batter. Additional charging comes from the 400 watt Air X marine rated wind turbine, which we mounted at the peak iof the roof. We placed the solar array on a special mount on top of the water tower.

    The worst moment of all of these systems is the moment of truth, when the wires are all in place, and you start getting all the circuits switched on. The fear is that in haste, tiredness or some thing else, a mistake has been made, and that switching the system into "on" you will create a short, a spark and a puff of smoke from some ridiculously small component that is indispensible, costs USD1000 or so, and is, because of your mistake, a paperweight... Luckily that didn't happen, and we were getting up to 40 amps from the solar array the morning we left the caye.

    The system took 5 days to install, including a day of pre positioning and pre assembly. It had a total cost of USD15,000.

    I had a great time out there. I ate fish every night (Grouper on two nights!), and the crew that I worked with was a lot of fun.

    I loaded two buckets of noni fruit to carry out with me, along with the assorted wire nuts and leftover bits and pieces that may be useful later....

    I should have known what an idiot I was working for when his crew was begging for an additional 5 gallons of gas to get us the 40 miles back to the mainland.

    That additional 5 gallons made us get all the way to within sight of Snake Cay, when, to my great dismay, the engine sputtered, briefly, and died. Instead of cruising at top speed on a Yamaha 150 engine in our skiff, Punta Gorda, the road to Columbia, my beautiful dorey to carry me up the beautiful moonlit river to my beautiful wife, I was sitting in the middle of the water, we were bobbing about in the ocean... with a wind that threatened to carry us back to the sea, out to the reef, and, if not lucky, off to Jamaica.... ... beautiful.

    When the engine died, I did a little mental inventory..... and found that we had one rather small bottle of water, no radio, no gas, no food, no life jackets other than the one I was sitting on, no paddles (no paddles?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!)...

    I was pissed off to think that the contractor I worked with decided to save some money on a project that cost the MBRS USD175,000. For lack of USD50 in fuel, my life was in complete peril (okay, a bit of heavy breathing here, but I was pissed).

    We picked up lengths of pipe, bits of flashing, and paddled like crazy, (which is a joke, we could only hope we would float into the cay before we got sucked out to the channel and, perhanps beyond) towards the cay, reaching it after about three hours and fifteen minutes of worry that we would run aground on the rocks, get swamped or some other utter catastrophe might occur. But we had made it to the island, if we had not gotten inline with the caye, we could have floated off into the sea....

    On the cay, I collected coconuts, and we made a huge bonfire on the beach. I have to admit, it was beautiful, and I had never been at the snake cays befor, or out in Port Honduras Marine reserve after dark. With the moon out, the waves craching to seaward, the white sand, the fire, it was really beautiful, and I would have really liked it if I had had my wife there with me instead of four guys... :lol:

    Using the ladder we were taking back, we were able to get a phone message through to our employer, who was off in Orange Walk, who then called TIDE, who dispatched Rangers from the Abalone Caye ranger station (which, incidentally, is powered by a solar system I designed and built :p ). Within another hour we were rescued...... and they hauled the skiff to Abalone. Being at the site of my favorite small system, I checked the batteries on the system, and got to see the cay lit up at night.

    Meanwhile, Tivi, the carpenter, plumber, and electricians assistant, has asthma, so Mr Sambula and Alexander, two of the three Rangers on the Cay, decided to carry us all to PG so we could go home. We hauled through the sea, in a fast little skiff, with no equipment.

    We reached town after 12. Only drunks were still about, with a few bars open. I got in my tuck, drove to Columbia village, passing through the village and not a soul awake, I dropped a bag of noni at Mr Saul Garcias doorstep, loaded the dorey, had a leisurely pole up river under the moon, and a joyful reunion....

    Um, ya asked :lol: . Lots of minutiae! Sure to bore or offend someone. Anyway, it was a lot of fun, but I have decided, again, I like the land more than the sea, again.

    Glad to hear you are promoting yourself. That is an excellent development!

    C
     
  14. Michaelangelica

    Michaelangelica Junior Member

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    https://www.ingentaconnect.com/sear...8&year_to=2009&database=1&pageSize=20&index=2
    Keywords: Fatty acids; Morinda citrifolia; noni; oilseeds; toxicology
     
  15. purplepear

    purplepear Junior Member

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