Aquaponics Application

Adam's Acres

Owner: Adam Thiessen

19276 Hilltop Dr
Gretna, NE 68028
Sarpy County

daytime phone: (402) 318-8208
evening phone: (402) 318-8208

Application Date: 2019-03-22

Applicant Details

Please briefly tell us why you are applying to be part of the Certified Naturally Grown program: *
I believe that it is the best certification in the country to promote and provide accountability for truly natural food. I have setup my own greenhouse and aquaponics system, and I am now ready to get my certification.
Are you currently third party Certified for your produce operation by any other organization (Organic, Biodynamic, etc)? *
Have you ever been certified in the past? *
Have you ever been denied certification? *
How did you hear about Certified Naturally Grown? *
Nelson and Pade's Master Aquaponics Course.

General Information

Please check all crops you grow in your aquaponic system. *

Please specify what other crops (if any).
Please check all markets you grow for (this will be displayed on your farm profile to help potential buyers find you). *

Please specify what other markets (if any).

System Design and Management

Please indicate what type of system you use (for hybrid systems, check all that apply): *

If you indicated you use an "other" system type, please specify what other type of system you use here.
If you use wicking beds, describe how the water his handled after it is used in the wicking beds. Does this water recirculate? If not, how is it disposed of?
What materials are used for root support, growing media, tubing and pipes, tanks, troughs, and other materials that come into direct contact with system water? (check all that apply) *

Are there any other materials you use in your system that are not listed above? If so, please indicate them here.
If you use soil or compost in your system, where is it used? Is it used only in the dead-end portion, or also in in the recirculating sections of the system?
If you use compressed grow plugs, what is (are) the product/s name/s? Have you been able to confirm with the supplier that it/they do not contain synthetic nutrients?
If your system contains cement, does it come into direct contact with the water? Please describe how cement is a part of your system.
If you use wood in your system, is it treated wood? Does it come into direct contact with the water? Please describe how wood is a part of your system.
If your system includes IBC totes purchased used, have you been able to confirm with your supplier that they were used only for food grade uses? If so, how have you confirmed this? If not, how do you intend to confirm this?
Please note that while IBC totes can be grandfathered in when they're in already in use at the time CNG certification is sought, CNG standards prohibit the introduction of IBC totes once CNG status is obtained. Please indicate that you understand this restriction on IBC totes by checking the box here. *
Does water circulate at a rate sufficient so that the water volume of the fish tanks(s) recirculates each hour? If it recirculates at a lower rate, please explain. *
Briefly describe how your system achieves appropriate aeration. *
Air pumps and air stones throughout the system to include: fish tanks raft beds bio reactor
Briefly describe how your system achieves appropriate degassing. *
I have a degassing tank that blows air into the water before returning to the DWC raft beds. It also degases throughout the system with the air stones.
Does your system include any of the following: roofing materials, recycled plastics, or plastics that contain BPA? *

Water Sources

CNG standards vary according to water source. Please indicate below ALL water sources you use for your aquaponic system, and answer the corresponding questions.
Do you use Municipal water? *
Do you use well water? *
What are the ground water contaminants of concern in your region? *
What experts did you consult to determine contaminants of concern? *
The water was sent to a Midwest Laboratories in Omaha, Nebraska.
Have you tested your well within the past year, and if so, what were the results? *
Are you willing to start testing annually? *
Do you treat or filter the water before adding it to the system? If so, what methods are used? *
Yes. I use Reverse Osmosis for all water, and I have a UV sterilization system that I can incorporate if needed.
Do you use rainwater? *
Do you use surface water? *
If you use a water source that is not named here, please elaborate.

Water Quality: Nutrients, pH, solids

How do you ensure a good match between stocking density and crop production? *
The system was designed with specific stocking densities in mind, and I stick to that. By testing water regularly, I could determine if adjustments need to be made to increase or decrease nutrient load.
Please describe how you design and operate your system to provide biofiltration that corresponds to production of fish waste and crops. *
The fish tanks filter into a clarifying/radial flow tank that settles solid particles. This tank has water removed daily and added to an offline aerobic mineralization tank. The clarifying tank dumps into an online mineralization tank with media for nitrifying bacteria to proliferate. This tank splits into a bio reactor that has aeration and bio media to allow more conversion of waste. That tank dumps into the degassing tank and then into the DWC raft bed. After the raft bed, some of the water is used to water fruting crops in dutch buckets with extruded clay pebbles, and other media beds with more clay pebbles. That water is collected in a tank and returned to the main system to then go to the fish tanks.
Do you ever add supplemental nutrients? If so, what materials or products have you used? List ingredients and product names. How much of these do you use? How frequently? *
Yes. Since I use reverse osmosis water, I have supplemented some chelated iron that was on the allowed list. I have only supplemented once. I do not plan to supplement once the system is at full capacity. The high quality non-gmo fish feed should be enough.
Do you use worms in your system? *
What materials do you use to buffer pH? *
I have not had to buffer pH yet, but if I needed to, I would use something from the allowed list like calcium carbonate.
What methods do you use to prevent the build up of waste solids in your system? *
I use a clarifying tank that settles solids in a conical tank that has a valve at the bottom to flush them out.
Please indicate how often you monitor each of the following:
pH? *
Temperature? *
Dissolved oxygen? *
Ammonia? *
Nitrites? *
Nitrates? *
Use this space if you'd like to share additional information about your water quality and monitoring practices.

Seeds, Transplants, and Crop Health

Do you grow some or all of your own transplants? *
What growing media do you use? Please list the ingredients. *
rock wool perlite vermiculite peat
Do you use any chemically-treated or genetically modified seeds? *
Do you purchase some or all of your transplants? *
Describe your primary insect pest challenges AND methods of prevention and control. (Do not answer "none". You MUST indicate actual pest challenges or LIKELY challenges, and you must ALSO indicate how you manage or how you would manage them. If you indicate a product, also specify how often it's used.) *
I have not encountered pests yet, but I am sure they are coming. I anticipate thrips and aphids being problems. Exclusion using insect screen and barriers will be primary defense. If they infest the greenhouse I will use biological controls like predator insects.
Describe your primary plant disease challenges AND methods of prevention and control. (Do not answer "none". You MUST indicate actual disease challenges or LIKELY challenges, and you must ALSO indicate how you manage or how you would manage them. If you indicate a product, also specify how often it's used.) *
I believe powdery mildew will be a challenge. I have incorporated the Puradigm system into my greenhouse. This device uses highly excited particles to kill viruses, bacteria, mold and mildew. It runs at night, and by using it, I should be able to mitigate any and all plant diseases, as well as human contamination as well.
CNG certification requires the use of certified organic or Certified Naturally Grown seeds whenever available. Please indicate the suppliers from which you source - or will source - your seeds if your application is accepted and you continue the certification process. *
I buy all seeds from Johnny Seeds or Seed Saver Exchange and only Organic seeds.
Please indicate, by entering your initials, that you understand that CNG strictly prohibits the use of chemically treated or GMO seeds. *
Please indicate, by entering your initials, that you will as a general rule purchase organically grown seeds, AND that you will only purchase conventional seed when the variety you wish to grow is not available in certified organic or CNG form. For each variety purchased in conventional form, you will identify (and keep records of) at least three commercial organic seed suppliers who do not carry that variety. *

Fish Management

We do not offer certification for fish, but do set some limited standards for fish management where they might affect the produce and or quality of life for the fish.
Does hormonal sex reversal treatment ever occur on-line / within the recirculating system? *
Please describe the practices you use to prevent and treat fish disease.
Prevention by keeping nitrtite and amonia levels in check. Keep stress to a minimum. Feed high quality food. Keep pH and temperature in check. Treating would involve quarantine in a hospital tank offline from the system. I would likely only use salt to treat disease. If it was so bad that antibiotics had to be used, I would treat the fish as a loss.
Have you ever found it necessary to use antibiotics? *
Please describe what kind of fish feed you use. Is it organically grown? (For aquaponic produce certification CNG standards do not require that the feed be organically grown, but we are interested to know what producers are using and to give credit to any producers who may be using organic feed) *
There is currently only one certified organic feed on the market. However, it is vegan and contains no fish meal. I have tried it, and I may incorporate some into the feed schedule. I will be using the Non-GMO fish food that is available from Nelson and Pade, which is made by Rangen. I also the starter 1,2,3, and 4 from Nelson and Pade.
Do you use black soldier fly larvae or duckweed as supplemental feed? *
Do you use any supplemental feed besides BSF larvae or duckweed? If so, describe it here, and indicate how you protect against contamination of your system. *

Protecting Against Contamination

Is your operation partially or entirely INdoors? *
What are the nearby land uses? Are there any that might pose risks of contamination? *
Nearby land use is agricultural. Most of it has been re-zoned for residential housing. Some is still production ground. The majority is farmed by an agri-tourism farm that does not do much spraying. I would say risk is minimal.
How does your ventilation and air filtration system prevent possible contamination? *
Shutters can be closed if I see aerial spraying or something like that. I use a geothermal air/air system to assist in heating and cooling. Thus I could shut my greenhouse in the event of spraying and still maintain relative cooling.
Do you share space (including fish tank, seedling starting, or plant production space) with other producers? *
Is your operation partially or entirely OUTdoors? *

Waste & Energy

These questions will not determine certification status, but are intended to encourage producers to review our recommendations in these areas and to give credit to producers who have made investments in the sustainability of their operation.
How do you dispose of fish solid wastes? *
I add them to an offline mineralization tank with aeration to aerobically mineralize the waste. Then I will add it into the media beds and dutch buckets with the extruded clay pebbles to be utilized by the fruiting plants.
When necessary during system change over, how do you dispose of nutrient-rich water? *
I try to recapture everything I can by re-mineralizing offline. However, if that was too much, I would use it to water my organic fruit orchard.
What measures have you taken to conserve energy, improve energy efficiency, and/or use energy from renewable sources? (This could include system design, siting, insulation, crop and fish species selection, and more.)
The system design is very efficient. It uses a single high efficientcy pump to run the water to the fish tanks, and then the rest is all gravity between filtration and back to the raft beds. I utilize one small booster pump to run the zones for my micro-greens NFT, and the media beds. That is on a timer that turns the pump on only when needed. The greenhouse is heated and cool assisted with a very efficient geothermal air/air system I designed. The raft bed is insulated on all sides including the rafts themselves. I have insulated most of the PVC pipe that is above ground. The fish tanks are in the shade to help keep water cool in summer. Crop and fish choices have been made to work with our climate and not against it.

Inspections & Networks

A core requirement of CNG certification is the on-site peer-review. Getting this completed is facilitated if you're a part of a network of aquaponics producers who might serve as your inspector. Are you a part of a network (informal or formal) of aquaponic producers in your geographic area? *


I understand that only the produce, NOT the fish, can be labeled and sold as Certified Naturally Grown. *
I will not label, or in any way lead consumers to believe that produce not raised in accord with CNG standards is Certified Naturally Grown. *
I understand that I have to complete at least one Inspection(s) of another CNG aquaponic producer in my area each year, if there is one within a one hour drive. *
I understand that the inspection I conduct will NOT be of the same producer that inspected me. *
I have reviewed the Certified Naturally Grown aquaponic certification standards, I understand them, and I will abide by them. I understand that if I have any questions I may contact CNG for clarification. *
You may use this space to tell us anything else you think we should know about your operation.