Allen Associates delivers the solution for viable fish farming in Africa

BY TAI CHISHAKWE - NOVEMBER 21, 2016

From salmon to ornamental koi production, fish farming is set to become big business for urban farmers and communities across South Africa and the continent. However, there are constraints to production which can make fish farms unsustainable as business ventures.

Port Elizabeth-based Allen Associates have used their experience in land, building, and  hydrographic surveying as well as scientific crop production to create an advanced real-time monitoring and control system aimed at boosting yields and managing costs, especially for emerging fish famers.

 “We bring to Africa the Allen Associates Charmel Irrigation & Agricultural Controller (CIAC), a modular, industrial-quality, automated aquaculture and aquaponics system,” says David Allen, CEO at Allen Associates.

“The key to viable aquaponics and aquaculture projects lies in effective management, monitoring and mentoring. CIAC automation essentially turns that theory into reality.

“CIAC uniquely places decades of research and development within the reach of communities and entrepreneurs recognising the rich economic and welfare potential of inland fish and hydroponics farming in controlled urban environments.”

Allen adds that CIAC features include the ability to manage four fish tunnels per controller – while allowing for individual settings in each tunnel.

“Operational set points are easily fine-tuned for controlled water and air temperature, pH, ORP, EC, DO, ammonium and nitrate monitoring, vital to a healthy biome,” he adds.

“Nitrate-rich water supports leafy vegetable production and the water purified by the plants recirculates under CIAC control with minimal loss. Besides water and fertiliser savings, these organic systems occupy a fraction of the land required by conventional farming methods.”

He says the CIAC system can also automate the entire process of feeding the fish according to fine temperature variations - avoiding feeding when water quality is unsuitable. It can automatically remove waste at set times.

“Water changes take place if ORP or pH values fall below pre-determined levels whereas low water levels trigger the pump and valve to fill a tank automatically. Breaching a maximum limit triggers an alarm,” Allen continues.

“The system also measures the amount of water used per month and sums it yearly.”

For convenience, the system, with its user-friendly interface, presents all data in easy to understand graphic reviews for spreadsheet analysis. While CIAC supports automated production, all settings respond to manual override.

“When an alert comes through, it is broadcast via 3G modem to system managers,” describes Allen, adding; “Data and alarms from multiple farms may be remotely logged for statistical graphics, backup and analysis while ensuring proactive remedial action.”

2016 enhancements to the proven CIAC system include power, water filtration and purification controllers as well as a cold storage controller for harvested inventory.

Allen Associates invites expressions of public interest in view of commercial aquaculture ventures in planning for the Nelson Mandela Bay Metropole. Issues under the spotlight include food security and unemployment which underlie a range of health and social ills besetting many communities.

For more information on CIAC Aquaculture or other Allen Associates products and services, call 041 581 2265 or visit www.allenassociates.co.za.