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Technology adoption life cycle and aquaponics

“Technology made large populations possible; large populations now make technology indispensable.”

Joseph Krutch.

Aquaponic grow beds with rain guards

The aquaponic adoption life cycle and chasm

This is a sociological model that describes the adoption or acceptance of a new product or innovation according to the demographic and psychological characteristics of defined adopter groups. The groups are Innovators, early adopters, early majority late majority and laggards. The chasm is a term used to describe the difficult transition between the early adopters and the early majority. This difficulty come from the fact that the early adopters want to be on the cutting edge and the early majority want a finished well working product a completely different set of needs.

Applying the 5 segments to the aquaponic market

Aquaponics is a form of food production and therefore applying the model to a basic level concept like food production will not produce accurate results as the scope will be too wide a mistake often made when discussing aquaponics instead we chose to apply the model to aquaponic gardening as our research shows this is where aquaponics will make the most impact.
Innovators — University of virgin island
early adopters — Internet savvy, self educated, handyman skills, access to power tools
early majority — more conservative but open to new ideas, active in community and influence to neighbors
late majority — older, less educated, fairly conservative and less socially active
laggards — very conservative, oldest and least educated

two youth with 5 gallon bucket filled with fish

The global aquaponic market outlook

Aquaponics is growing plants and fish with water recirculating between the two, the water acts as a vehicle taking the fish manure to the plants for use then to return clean to the fish to start the process all over again. This mimics the global environment with rain, rivers, forest and evaporation but shrunk in scale and complexity to fit into a man made container for a more manageable and controllable experience for the individual. This modern adaptation has been making waves of new opportunities in the food production sector especially in the urban landscape because of the self contained nature and high level of control. Aquaponics is set to be a major contributor the food production on a global level however until the necessary financial and educational supporting infrastructure catches up to the speed at which the idea of aquaponics is spreading through the internet the effects will only be affected in the smalls scale DIY sector of the population.

young girls in aquaponic system doing chores

Why Industrial scale aquaponics is not happening yet

Many big aquaponic systems have failed and it has been for some reasons the first is that the custom installation means that the startup cost is high and once you are commercial you are competing at commercial prices. and land does not have that high start up cost so you have to offset this with productivity for example if the aquaponic system cost the same as the farm land it is on it has to produce twice the amount you can get from the land to be a safe bet. Most people when planning will calculate the numbers based on the most expensive crop and when time to run the farm it’s also the hardest to grow. Another problem is because they don’t use Aquaponics as a standalone one way system where the fish waste is dumped into the plant system.

irrigation manifold

Decoupled aquaponic systems

Constant recirculation works but when growing for money we need to be able to supplement the fish or plant systems independently. Aquaponics is currently a niche market you have to be good at marketing to make money and you have to sell at higher than normal market price to make a living. The other benefit of Aquaponics is the aqueous extraction of nutrients from plant sources over relying on mined source that are depleted we need a renewable source of chemical energy to power our food systems. The use of water as a media calls for a greater control than on normal farm can provide there for some mechanism will have to be installed raising start up cost considerably.

Problems with aquaponics in the city

The problem with aquaponics in the city is the access to sunlight or artificial light is to expensive as the plants need sun and the humans are densely populated in multi level building but the plants are not Plants cannot profit the amount of money that rooftop levels demand in rent however the area immediately surrounding the city is a good area to grow food using aquaponics as the food miles will not be a lot reducing the carbon foot print of the city itself.

Life cycle of an Aquaponic garden

We all must know what our jobs are and how to identify and implement our parts in it. You as a person reading this must know that you have a part to play, we as a whole must start to grow food and move away for the industrial complex

breeding cages for tilapia

Danger point in crossing the chasm from hobby too for profit with aquaponics

when running a system to buy it completed unless you are rich is all most impossible there becomes a point in time when you are growing your system capacity to convert sunlight to food that the amount of labor input you require means that it has to be full time for one person. We try to shear the responsibility between many but this is not how it works out the best. As they are other factors that come into play such are the customer needs.

Resale value of aquaponic systems

As more people learn about Aquaponics and more people want to be Healthy we are seeing a growing interest in personal food production

close up of second generation aquaponics

The economic effects on aquaponic system design

Aquaponics offers more control over the ratio of crop management activities directly related to profit e.g. harvesting crops as opposed to crop management activities not directly relating to profit e.g. pulling weeds and how these activities interact with the bill paying cycles involved with the supporting sectors e.g. energy bill, transportation cost.
The 3 concepts that are under developed in aquaponic design are
(i) Financial planning and risk management that affect potential growers’ initial engagement in aquaponics
(ii) Consumer perception of aquaponic products including the willingness to pay more for its added value
(iii) The economic value of the environmental benefits of aquaponic systems and ways to internalize them for profit
Once these are accounted for the profit margin will widen and become more sustainable for users.


Understanding they are two chasms in the aquaponic industry that needs to be accounted for and providing the resale value of systems to users will enable an aquaponic industry to develop and thrive. The tourism industry offers a landscape where value can be added to the environmental benefit and be a contributing factor in the operation of the system with aquaponics in the landscape and the maintenance workers be trained to operate the machinery.


Equal parts technology enthusiast, carpenter, kitchen designer, farmer, capitalist, domesticated father and tree-hugger, I dissected and negotiated myself into a life that brings me both pleasure and pain upon coming to the realization that I cannot save mother earth from Human nature and my only recourse is to do more good than harm through Aquaponics. All of my work can be found here in these 12 main and the supporting pages I use to valiantly put forth this hypothesis.

Damian HInkson

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