Sunday, November 21st, 2010 All day workshop (9am to around 5pm) Location: Barwon Downs & Forrest, Victoria, Australia contact Fern for more details and to register Nick Romanowski is well known for his many books on wetlands and aquaculture, as well as books and articles on diverse plant groups which emphasize edible species, and including his many features for the ABC’s The Organic Gardener magazine. Most of his earlier books have been published by University of New South Wales Press, but in more recent years his work is being commissioned by other publishers, with two volumes of his wetland work already published by CSIRO Publishing, and a third underway. Nick has long been involved in diverse applied aspects of aquaculture, from managing a wholesale aquarium in the early 1970s to experimental work using around a hundred ponds and several dams since the late 1980s. Much of this work has been done on his property at Dragonfly Aquatics in the Otway Ranges of southern Victoria, a short drive from many parts of the Great Ocean Road, one of Australia’s three iconic tourist destinations. He began serious writing on aquaculture with a series for Grass Roots magazine, and his best-selling book Farming in Ponds and Dams was reprinted through the 1990s; this remains the best-known practical aquaculture text in Australia, although it is now dated in many parts. In 1997 Nick published two very different aquaculture manuals, Sustainable Freshwater Aquaculture through University of New South Wales Press, and Edible Water Gardens through Hyland House, an encyclopedia of all edible plants grown in and around freshwaters worldwide. Nick and his wife Jan Ratcliff have also established a substantial orchard with nearly 400 mature fruit and nut trees on their property in the Otway Ranges of southern Victoria. Many of these trees are now 30 years old, and a brief guided tour may be given after the workshop if there is time. Outline of the 2010 workshop This aquaculture workshop will be the most complete overview yet of what can be grown and raised in ponds and dams throughout Australia, from fishes to freshwater crayfish, as well as edible aquatic plants. It will be presented by Australia’s best known independent aquaculture researcher, whose aim is to establish realistic, long-term goals for aquaculture; he does not sell, recommend or in any way promote practises which are environmentally or morally dubious. Topics to be covered will be adapted to the needs and interests of participants, starting with the basics below: *Holding water - the elementary but often-ignored basics of creating a pond or dam which doesn’t leak. * Water quality, from dissolved oxygen and carbon dioxide, to toxic wastes which slow growth and damage gills; how to promote natural cycles which minimise such problems. * Extensive aquaculture – relatively simple, low-tech ways of production from farm dams and larger ponds. Limitations on polyculture imposed by the species actually available for aquaculture in Australia will also be discussed, as contrasted to fishes used overseas which feed at a lower level on the food chain. *Aquariums as a small-scale, affordable training ground for aquaculture, allowing direct observation of the effects of water temperature, feeding, interactions under crowded conditions, and a practical understanding of the effects of water conditions on behaviour. * Understanding the energy needs and other inputs of more complex aquaculture systems, and why many of these fail even the most basic tests for sustainability. *Aquaculture feeds – the energy demands of commercial feeds (which are based primarily on fishmeal, supplied by specifically-targeted fisheries completely dependent on fossil fuels), and potential alternatives which can be made from locally produced ingredients. Adapting feeding regimes to different areas, and seasonal conditions. * Native and introduced fishes for various climates, freshwater crayfish, and some other edible invertebrates. Which species can realistically be bred in different climates, based on an understanding of the conditions under which most native species have evolved. * A brief overview of some of the 300 or so species and varieties of plants which grow naturally in and around water, including discussion of why many of these are better suited to maintaining water quality in aquaponic systems than terrestrial plants, which are adapted to a very different range of nutrients. *Aquaponics - the rapidly increasing interest in this field is creating many problems and this workshop will include discussion of the issues involved. Unlike most people promoting their own, usually expensive systems, Nick casts an experienced and impartial eye over the many claims and designs, which are often unsubstantiated by anything other than a few photos. Issues to be covered here will range from the battery-farming approach so many people seem to think is acceptable, to sustainability including energy use, and size versus quality of the vegetables and animals produced – are these in any sense “organic” as is often assumed? The reasons many fishes don’t reach the sizes claimed to be possible in small ponds will also be considered.