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DCB Aquaponics Program
Dakota College at Bottineau is reinstating its Horticulture Program with an added bonus: Aquaponics. The system is student-built and largely self-sustaining. Jennifer Kleen introduces us to the student who helped to grow his own degree. (Dayton Phelps, Dakota College at Bottineau Aquaponics) "I was looking all over the internet for a degree in Aquaponics and I couldn't find one." (Jennifer Kleen, KX News) Dayton Phelps grew up knowing where our food comes from has value. (Phelps) "I knew I wanted to do something in horticulture." (Kleen) But why grow a garden, when you can have a garden with fish? (Phelps) "I just saw a YouTube video where they were raising plants and fish and I thought, I want to do that." (Kleen) Phelps spent last Christmas vacation building this aquaponics system, and in turn, building his own degree at Dakota College at Bottineau. (Keith Knudson, Dakota College at Bottineau Instructor) "Aquaponics is the combination of aqua-culture which is the growing of plants and fish in water, and hydroponics is actually growing plants in a soil-less substraight." (Kleen) The system starts with the fish. (Knudson) "We keep the temperature very warm in these tanks." (Kleen) The water flows through the fish tanks, through solid waste filters. (Phelps) "From there to our grow bins, which work as a bio-filter." (Knudson) "In the biofilter we have aerobic and anerobic bacterias that break that down and the plants use it as a nutrient." (Phelps) "Whatever we put in there is the most important because they break it down, they really do all the work." (Kleen) From there, the water flows through lettuce and other plants growing in the raft system then on to other systems that keep air pumping through. (Knudson) "The plants need air, the fish need air and the bacteria needs air in order to do their thing." (Kleen) DCB invested grant money for security cameras so the students can monitor air flow and temperatures remotely around the clock. (Knudson) "All we really do is provide some energy in the form of heat. We also provide the fish feed, from that point on, the system sustains itself." (Kleen) The tomatoes are the last stop. (Phelps) "If you were doing it for a hobby, but at a commercial scale, you have to look into energy costs and you do need a lot of space, you need resources." (Kleen) For the resources in Phelps' case, he just had to find the right inspiration, (Phelps) "Watching a YouTube video." (Kleen) ...and a campus willing to help his career plans take root. From Dakota College at Bottineau, Jennifer Kleen, KX News. DCB also invested in different lighting sources to test which kind of tomatoes grow best in North Dakota.