Farmers To Hold Aquaponics Field Day

Farmers To Hold Aquaponics Field Day

On Nov. 11, a father and son will show how they added a new enterprise to their farm, raising vegetables and fish together. Aquaponics combines traditional aquaculture (raising fish in tanks) with hydroponics (cultivating plants in water).

At a field day to be held on their farm at Panora in west central Iowa, Earl Hafner, and son Jeff, will talk about their experiences adding an aquaponics facility to their farming operation. They will demonstrate how to raise vegetables and fish together at a Practical Farmers of Iowa Field Day on Friday, Nov. 11, beginning at 1 p.m. and ending at 5 p.m.

Jeff Hafner monitors a tank of tilapia in the fish nursery, where the tilapia will remain until they reach 50 grams and are then moved to the fish-finishing tanks.

Earlier this year, Earl and Jeff added a new farm enterprise, Early Morning Harvest, to their diversified cow-calf, hog and certified-organic corn and soybean operation. Early Morning Harvest produces vegetables in an aquaponics greenhouse, a diverse variety of garden-fresh vegetables, pastured poultry for egg production and flours made from certified-organic grains, including wheat, rye, buckwheat and cornmeal, which they also raise.

Aquaponics combines traditional aquaculture (raising fish in tanks) with hydroponics (cultivating plants in water). Participants will learn about the advantages of aquaponics and how it can be used as a sustainable technique for growing food on any scale as Jeff shares on-farm research about the economic feasibility of this system.

Great way to grow food and income all year long, come find out more

"Aquaponics has only been in practice since the 90s, but it's catching on," says Jeff. "I'm going to lay it all out there. I'm going to talk openly about my successes and my failures and about the many different ways there are to do aquaponics. It really is a great way to grow food and income all year long, and this field day is a good opportunity if someone wants to know more."

The field day will be held at Early Morning Harvest, 2425 Willow Ave., Panora, Iowa 50216. To get there from the west: Pass through Panora on Hwy 44. About 2 miles east of Panora, turn right (south) onto Willow Ave. Continue for 2.2 miles and the farm will be on your right. From the east: If heading south on 169 toward Adel, make a right at the four-way stop sign onto Hwy 44. Travel approximately 15–17 miles to Willow Ave. Make a left on Willow and head south for 2.2 miles. The farm will be on the right (west side of the road). This event is free and open to the public. Please call the PFI office at 515-232-5661 for more information.

Field day participants are asked to please use precautions

Jeff asks participants who come to the field day to please help him protect the plants and fish by wearing reasonably clean footwear and clothing (no caked on mud, manure, pollen or seeds).

Practical Farmers of Iowa recognizes the following sustaining sponsors: Albert Lea Seedhouse, American Natural Soy, Iowa Farmers Union, ISU Extension, Midwest Organic and Sustainable Education Service (MOSES), Seed Savers, USDA Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SARE), and the Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture, in addition to the following major sponsors: Iowa Forage and Grassland Council, Midwest Organic Services Association (MOSA), CROPP Cooperative of Organic Valley/Organic Prairie Family of Farms and Iowa State University Wallace Chair for Sustainable Agriculture. This event also made possible with funding from CB Seed and US Testing Network (USTN).

Founded in 1985, Practical Farmers of Iowa is an open, supportive and diverse organization of farmers and friends of farmers, advancing profitable, ecologically sound and community-enhancing approaches to agriculture through farmer-to-farmer networking, farmer-led investigation and information sharing. Farmers in our network produce corn, soybeans, beef cattle, hay, fruits and vegetables, and more. For additional information, call 515.232.5661 or visit

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