So one of the questions I get is, "Can you actually make money with Aquaponics?"
The answer is Maybe.
People have made money off of all sorts of things. Fixing shoes, painting cars, tutoring students, music lessons, ect. the list goes on and on.
I actually had an idea in 1993 while in college of having a fast food delivery system, my only problem was with the risk, how to collect payment before purchasing the fast food and delivering it. Now if you do a web search for fast food delivery service, you'll see that many businesses have overcome this risk and are doing exactly what I had thought of so many years ago.
Now on to how much money can be made with Aquaponics...
There are a lot of variables in that equation (climate, location, infrastructure, utility costs, labor costs, marketing methods, management abilities, etc), but you can easily determine your estimated gross income by taking the number of heads you’ll grow x the price you will sell at, plus the number of pounds of fish x the price you will sell it at.
Many growers around the country typically sell their premium lettuce for $3-4/head retail or $2 -2.75/head wholesale and whole tilapia for $3-5/lb. A ball-park guestimate (and reported to us by growers) for operational expenses is between $.90 – $1.40/head. The difference is your net profit.
A Realistic Model
So using the Nelson and Pade Microfarm #3 as a guideline, we see the following average productions:
Average Vegetables per year: 19000 x $2.76 = $52440 (assuming 1/3 retail and 2/3 wholesale)
Average Tilapia per year: (1305 x 1.125) x $4.00 = $5872 (assuming a grow out weight of 18 oz)
Gross Profit is $58312
With operational expenses at roughly $1.15 x 19000 = $21850
Or a Net Profit of $36462
Nelson and Pade claims a return on investment of 3-4 years. I've seen time commitment estimates of 4-6 hours a day. What I'm hoping is that with two people working the aquaponics system together that we can both keep our day jobs while we pay off the initial investment.
If you look at the numbers I plugged in, I took an average of the highs and lows of production, pricing and expenses to give a realistic general idea of what to expect. Is anyone getting rich off of Aquaponics at this level? No, but this is a starting point.
We haven't factored in demand yet. If we can generate enough customers to buy all of this, what's stopping us from doubling the size of our operation?
We also haven't talked about other factors of our farm, like our chicken tractor egg production, or raising pigs.
We are still at the beginning stages of building our ministry, and the wisest piece of advice that was given to me was by my dad when he told me "Don't worry about the big picture, just concentrate on the next step".