Oregon Biofarm

THE BIOFARM

sustainable.farm

From Soup to Nuts!

The 100' x 30' greenhouse is the set for an 1150' integrated Biogarden setup.

Whe greenhouse will be space optimized, integrating vertical hydroponics grow systems, liquid fertilizer making, 10,000 gallons of nutrient/fish tanks.

All connected via automated timers bringing in nutrient rich water stored in outdoor underground reservoirs.

Building the Biogarden

Biogarden hydroponic growing systems are crafted from 18" culverts. These carbon black, food grade HDPE bed and tank materials are versatile, modifiable and virtually indestructable.

Automation Panel

This control panel is a simple mechanism to top off tanks with water and nutrients stored outdoors and underground. 

Two tanks are mixtures of nutrients and water and support deep water culture flood and drain cycles. Two additional tanks store concentrated nutrients and well water.

Plumbing Beds to Outdoor Tanks

A crew of 4 takes approximately 10 days to setup grow beds and plumb to outdoor storage tanks.

Plumbing Biogarden Tables

By integrating outdoor sum surface storage tanks with Biogarden grow beds, operator can easily top off nutrient and water with a single switch of the pump and valve turn off at each table.

Finishing touches

Installing underground tanks

Beds Installed!

Biogarden Beds Installed and Operational

Nutricycler Fertilizer Making Tanks

With 6 tanks x 240 gallons each for making organic liquid fertilizer, the Biofarm will have more than enough nutrients to support all plants growing inside the greenhouse. Liquid fertilizer is an important revenue with cost to produce approximately $1.50/gallon. Retail value is between $3.00-$10.00 per gallon.

The Biofarm is the fist of its kind commercial organic hydroponics greenhouse growing facility.

The Biofarm of Oakland, Oregon, operates year round to grow plants, fish and produce organic liquid fertilizer. Research is conducted here for the purpose of optimizing our method of growing, fertilizer production and to teach others a new method of producing food sustainably.

Growing Hemp, Vegetables, Flowers, Fish and Duckweed

commercial organic hydroponics
basil hydropnics growing
wheatgrass deep water culture
vertical hydroponics systems
growing duckweed

This year we grew a full variety of plants with great success. Tomatoes, wheatgrass, lettuces, chard, basil, hemp, strawberries, duckweed and goldfish!

I am also experimenting with growing an edible form of duckweed and spirulina. The duckweed Wolfia lemmna was much easier to grow than expected; the biomass yield was high and a lot easier to grow and harvest than spirulina. I've ordered the species arrhiza, aka watermeal as it is more palatable for human consumption. Nice to see that duckweed grows on lower levels of vertical tables where sunlight is limited, almost as well as in full sun.

This year we plan to grow more indoor hemp, we have an Oregon license and enjoying the leaves for juicing and benefits of CBD in all respects. 

Operating the Biofarm in 2018. A learning experience and an opportunity to prove the viability of growing plants in DWC deep water culture and soilless rock aggregate utilizing the Biogarden hydroponics grow systems.

As an owner of Bioponica I was given an opportunity to purchase the Biofarm in shortly after it was built in 2017. The client who we designed it for was young and had a change of heart. He wanted to move to Bali and learn to build bamboo homes; a shameless pursuit.

After moving to Oregon from Atlanta I began operating the Biofarm in April of 2018. There were some challenges but everything worked out well;  the experience has been exhilirating.

My goal has been to demonstrate the viability of the Biofarm as an integrated series of grow beds, plus, of course, making liquid fertilizers from biomasses that we blend at Bioponica. This hydroponic growing system has been a passion of mine since we develped the Biogarden in 2010. I cannot say I have been disappointed with how the commercial scale project has performed. To the contrary my experience has convinced me that the entire system works like a charm, including the underground tanks that integrate all beds, including the 40' deep water culture Biogarden troughs which were only a concept prior to installation.

As a nutrition oriented physician with an interest in sustainable system for feeding the planet I am driven to disrupt the conventional models of agriculture in as many ways as possible. In its present form, both soilless hydroponics and conventional farming have some room to immprove. Bioponica designed the Biogarden to expand the versatility of soilless growing systems. Instead of gutter system for NFT and Dutch Buckets or fodder trays, the patented design of HDPE culverts gives growers more options and the modular beds expand the function In general. Why not use one system for all hydroponics growing techniques? 

If growing was so easy that persons of all ages and abilities were to suited to growing a 30-60 sf garden with limited effort, then farming would become as much a part of daily lives as is operating a washing machine or dishwasher. If that experience included raising fish and all varieties of plants in all climates and conditions then we might be able to limit our dependency on the present day, industrialized, mechanized, centralized, chemical fertilizer and pesticide dependent practice of farming.

Hydroponics and aquaponics are an agricultural enhancement because they recirculate and conserve water and because they optimize plant performance, reduce labor and have fewer pests to manage. The Biogarden takes this one step further with a versatile, weather withstanding, modular and vertical grow system that is easy to manage and great fun to operate.

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Biogarden Growing - Photo Gallery 2018

Making Organic Liquid Fertilizer

making liquid fertlizer
Underground Biofiltration Tanks
compost tea brewer
Compost Tea Making
making liquid fertilizer

The Biofarm has provided an opportunity to create organic liquid fertilizers on a commercial scale.

With 6, 240 gallon anaerobic extraction tanks and an 1100 gallon underground biofiltration tank I am able to produce as 3000 gallons of organic liquid fertilizer each month. This is more than what is needed to operate a relatively small 3000 sf greenhouse. It leaves an abundant volume that can be used to fertigate the adjacent 4 acres of grass land, should we decide to grow hemp next season. Or we can sell it. A comparable liquid organic fertilizer retails for anywhere from $3-$10 per gallon, depending on where you buy (hydroponic stores are by far the most expensive source).

With a local customer base, purchasing 2000 gallons per month at $3/gallon, profits will support the entire farm operation. Cost to produce this, when buying fertilizer from Bioponica is about $2.25 per gallon or $4500/month. If we grow hemp next season, we'll keep all that extra fertilizer and keep costs of fertility low and minimize labor that is commonly high for growers who buy pre-blended organic soil mixtures and attempt to grow hemp above ground. 

Bioponica has been working on developing a means of making organic liquid fertilizer inexpensively in order to overcome the high cost of organic farming.

Bioponica has been working for the past 5 years on developing biomass mixtures that include plants and organic materials that have varying ratios of nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium, NPK. We found that dehydrated green plants such as alfalfa, kudzu, and brewers grains are high in nitrogen plus minerals, but also high in carbon. Other materials such as bloodmeal, cottonseed meal and coffee grounds have lower carbon but also can be more difficult to 'crack' or release nitrogen from the biomass solids. We've managed these issues by adding various enzymes, optimizing carbon ratio and adding microbes into dry mixes we refer to as Primordial Soup blends.

The mixtures for phosphorus and minerals include bone meal, wood ash, kelp, along with a sufficient ratio of carbon rich biomasses that feed the anaerobic and aerobic microbes. This is necessary to create a fermentation process that breaks down the complex amino acid and mineral rich compounds in order to drive them into solution and make them useful to the plants following carbon removal and biofiltration.

The resultant liquid fertilizer is a superior form of nourishment to growing plants and feeding the microbes of the soil because they are easier utilized - more microbe-ready and plant-ready.  It is common knowledge that a large percentage of biomass used to fertilize the soil takes months to years to break down into a form that can be utilized by microbes and plants. The problem with this is that much of the organic and inorganic fertilizers used end up in the rivers, lakes and oceans causing algae bloom and pollution that kills aquatic life.  By utilizing a liquid fertilizer which is readily utilized by plants we not only minimize runoff of fertilizers but we also create a means of application that is less costly than other methods of soil application such as tilling and field dressing.  And, with adequate soluble carbon, organic liquid ferililizers provide humates, amino acids and other compounds that provide favorable ionic characteristics to the soil.

Bioponica has pursued researching and developing processes and blends for making organic dry blends to be used for making liquid fertilizer because it is a more sustainable method of soil fertility. There is an abundance of nutrients in almost every type of disposed-of agriculture and livestock related waste biproduct. And that's not even considering manures. Why allow waste to be discharged to the environment when simple processing techniques can be employed to recycle and reuse?

When ammonia-nitrogen is made from petroleum and mineral salts are derived from earthen mines instead of biomass discards we end up with salty soil that locks up nitrogen and we pollute the earth. When phosphorus mines become depleted, agriculture will have no place to turn but to biproducts of agriculture such as bone meal which is our most abundant and most-wasted source of phosphorus and calcium. We believe that utilizing biomasses to make liquid fertilizers is not only smart but necessary for the future of agriculture.

The fertilizer making process is fairly simple as we utilize microbes to do the bulk of the work.

Starting with blends of nutrients, produced at Bioponica, we add biomass at a ratio of 1lb/3gallons of water. This is anaerobically digested, with the aid of specific microbes and enzymes and a mix of elements that give us a good carbon/nitrogen ratio for proper thermogenesis and acid decomposition.

The extracted leachate is then aerated with biofiltration bags and vortex aeration and mixing. This process removes carbon and leaves a solution that is clear, brown and plant ready.

Nutricycling Primordial Soup Dry Blends into Organic Liquid Fertilizer - Photo Gallery 2018