Dayton Valley Aquaponics in Nevada is looking to brand Nile, or black tilapia, in a new way through its ultra-modern aquaponics recirculating aquaculture facility (RAS) in the American desert.
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Branded as “Sierra Blue Tilapia,” the company’s 31,000-square-foot-facility, on 250 acres in Dayton, Nevada, has produced 7,800 tilapia over the past two years that have fertilized 100,000 pounds of tomatoes for commercial sale.
“We were interested in producing a highly consumed species that also has a market opportunity to provide significant product differentiation,” Trevor Birba, business manager of Dayton Valley Aquaponics, told IntraFish.
“Additionally, at the time of inception our group was not experienced in aquaculture. As such, we saw the benefit of having a species that was relatively forgiving.”
The company touts that its fish are healthier than other tilapia because of its unique feed it says is optimized for RAS tilapia production. Unlike corn feed, which has typically served Nile tilapia in the past, the company’s primary ingredients include feather/poultry meal, fishmeal, fish oil, whole wheat and wheat middlings.
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The year-round production facility is powered by a massive photovoltaic solar array and heated by renewable bio-fuels. Wood pellets heat the greenhouse system and almost 100 percent of the farm’s water is recycled, according to the company.
Right now the company’s products are largely sold throughout various farmer’s markets serving consumers that live in the Lake Tahoe region that borders California. That part of the state’s business corridor has been booming thanks to California transplants fleeing overpriced homes for Nevada. Nearby Reno has also seen an influx of tech giants such as Tesla and Google that have moved into a large industrial park in the city.
Embed: Sierra blue tilapia
The company’s largest distributor is regional grocery chain 99 Ranch Market, Birba said.
Salmon in the future?
The company is planning to add facilities as well as R&D crop trials, according to Birba, and even plans to expand into harvesting Pacific salmon in its RAS facility.
“We are working through feasibility study, permitting and design at this time. We expect to have a significant amount of information for public release very soon,” he said.
Birba said the company has secured funding for all four phases of the expansion planned, but said the timeline for completion of those projects is undetermined.
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