Aquaponics Grow Bed Size
If you’ve wondered how to determine the size of your grow beds in your aquaponics system then the good news is that there is a fairly simple formula that can help you with that question. In this article I will show you how to calculate the correct size of grow beds and also the walk space that is needed to have a fully functioning yet accessible aquaponics farm.
Calculate Your Total Greenhouse Area
So the first thing you need to know is your total Greenhouse area which is the width of the greenhouse multiplied by the length of the greenhouse. That’s going to give you the total area that you have.
What is the Right size of Grow bed to Use
The second thing you need to know is the correct width of the grow bed that will maximize your grow space. The width of your grow bed is going to depend on the size of your greenhouse. The width I recommend is based on the following rule of thumb:
- if you have a greenhouse that is bigger than 21 ft or 6.5 m in width than the most efficient grow bed size is 8 ft which is going to maximize the space that you have in your Greenhouse
- if your greenhouse is less than 21 ft or 6.5 m then the recommended area would be 4 ft in order to maximize the space you have.
8ft wide beds if width > 21 ft or 6.5 m
4ft wide beds if width < 21 ft or 6.5 m
To test this theory you can do an experiment by using the sizes that I’ve listed here and drawing out 8 feet wide beds in a greenhouse that is larger than 21 ft wide and 4 ft wide beds in a greenhouse that is smaller than 21 ft while keeping a 2 ft walk space between the beds. As you do that you will notice that you will either run out of space with the incorrect size of grow beds or that a large amount of space will be wasted. A different configuration can lead to wasted space and therefore a lower efficiency in how you use your greenhouse area.
If you’re building your own greenhouse, it is recommended to use one that can accommodate the larger 8 feet wide beds since you are able to maximize the greenhouse space that you will be investing in building.
Calculate the Number of Beds
Next, you want to determine the number of beds your greenhouse can accommodate. Using the formula;
Number of beds = Greenhouse width/ (bed size + 2 ft)
The addition of the 2 ft to the bed size is to accommodate the space or the access space between two beds. 2 ft is the minimum that we suggest and you want to add that into this calculation so that you can get the appropriate number of beds.
What will be the Total Walkway Space that will be Needed
You can use more than 2 ft of walkway between the beds however we recommend to have at least a minimum of 2 ft or 24 in between beds to allow for sufficient space for handlers to move freely. Remember, once you start growing crops in your grow beds you will not be able to reach the other side of the grow beds from any opposite direction. An 8-foot wide bed needs to have access on both sides so that you can reach the plants in the center of the grow bed. You can calculate the total walk away or access space using the following formula;
Total walkway or access space area = greenhouse width/(number of beds width of beds)
The formula for the total walkway or access space is equal to the greenhouse width divided by the number of beds calculated previously times the width of the beds.
Determine the Individual Walkway between Each Bed
Next, you want to look at the individual walkway or access space between each bed. As mentioned previously, you want to make sure that you have enough space in the middle between each bed to have sufficient access to the plants right in the middle of your beds. Using the following formula you can calculate the individual walkway area
Walkway or access space = Total walkway area /(Number of beds + 1)
Total walkway space that you calculated previously divided by the number of beds plus 1. The reason we use that plus 1 is to accommodate for the first and last grow bed and the access space that you’ll need in order to reach the plants.