Cath is passionate about sharing great stories with the world, shes a hydroponic enthusiast, plant collector, and heads up the Global Marketing Team at Bluelab.
Solution Farms is one of the largest aquaponics facilities in the west and has become known for providing the steady source of locally raised, certified organic produce being used by North County restaurants, juice bars and eager farmers' market buyers.
In addition to thriving organic produce, Solution Farms is also a laboratory for teaching important work values and preparing people for re-entry into the workforce. They are a company who believes in creating a healthier world through controlled agriculture and one who proves that it's possible to pursue a greater social purpose while at the same time remaining a highly functional business.
In seeking out what equipment they needed to power this exceptional operation, Aquaponics Specialist at Solution Farms, Kevin Gorham, explained that they sought out equipment that would provide their team with robust measurement and monitoring of key parameters 24/7. They wanted products that would stand the test of time and deliver exceptional results and this is what initially drew them to Bluelab.
"I’ve used various probes from a number of manufacturers and, after returning many of them, I can tell you the Bluelab makes quality products."
The team at Solution Farms decided to choose the Guardian Monitor, which monitors water quality 24/7 over three key parameters: pH, EC (or PPM) and temperature. When you consistently track the three fundamental parameters of nutrient uptake, you are able to spot any fluctuations, allowing you to solve issues as and when they happen. Additionally, the Bluelab Guardian Monitor’s large backlit LED display allows you to view your pH, EC and temperature at a glance.
Kevin explained that optimising pH was one of the most important tasks they use the Bluelab Guardian for because of the complex needs required to create a thriving environment. At Solution Farms, their plants prefer a pH under 6.5 so they have access to nutrients but their nitrifying bacteria and fish thrive in a pH of about 7.5.
"Great aquaponics is about balancing the needs of all of your system components, and the first step to doing that is having access to key information. The Guardian provides us consistently accurate pH 24/7 so we as operators can attempt to keep everything balanced."
Good temperature management is crucial for fish, plants and bacteria. To ensure your crops perform optimally, you need to know and be able to maintain the optimal temperatures. Temperature affects how much the fish eat and how fast the bacteria can do their job and therefore how many nutrients are being created. In turn, this affects the growth of the plants.
Like many other farms in the area, Solution Farms fills their systems with municipal water, which can be dangerously high in salts so measuring electrical conductivity (EC, TDS, PPM) is also important in maintaining healthy aquaponic systems. As with most controlled ag environments, an operation of this size has a very small window where they can react to observations in their crops. If they do not have access to the important information they need on key parameters, they are unable to respond correctly and in a timely manner.
Kevin said that he is thrilled with their Guardian Monitor and would recommend it to anyone looking for quality equipment that they can rely on.
"With the Guardian, any time I walk by the system I can quickly observe our water quality...the parameters [that it] displays are some of the most critical for the success of our aquaponic system"
Find out more about the Bluelab Guardian Monitor.