Looking to learn more about hydroponics (growing plants using mineral nutrient solutions, in water, without soil) or aquaponics (a symbiotic environment used in food production)? Perhaps you've always wanted your own greenhouse? Or maybe you're looking to expand your backyard chickens. Then a drive to FarmTek Supply, in rural Dyersville is a fun way to spend a fall morning.
FarmTek is much more than a supply store, it has on-site operation of a hydroponic greenhouse that boasts tomatoes, cucumbers on vines stretching eight feet toward the roof and a small fish farm that feeds lettuce greens and other small plants in an aquaponics system. There's also a fodder system that encourages providing livestock, horses and poultry with high-quality feed year round. The seven-day growing cycle results in a nutrient-rich fodder for pennies a pound.
Guides explain how fodder grown from oat, rye, barley and other grains is being grown on organic dairy farms in the Midwest, and used by small, poultry operations to supplement pasture not available for grazing in the winter. In some areas, even the water that drains off of the mats of roots, is captured and offered to livestock as nutrient-loaded nourishment.
In the aquaponics structure, Nile tilapia are grown in small tanks where it's possible to see the fish gain a pound of weight for every pound of food consumed. The waste that results is collected in solid form and from a slurry where particles are suspended in liquid. The result is fertilizer, of course, which can then be used in many ways.
The aquaponics program near Dyersville pumps a mixture of water and natural fish fertilizer into tanks that hold float beds into which seeds are germinated to grow greens, herbs and vegetables.
Free tours of the operations are available. Most of the items offered in the company's catalog are available on-site. There's also a bargain hut of returned/sometimes dented items.
Location and more information
Farm Tek is located at 1440 Field of Dreams Way, Dyersville, right off Highway 20.
The Iowa retail store's hours are 8 am to 5 pm Monday through Friday and 9 am to 1 pm Saturdays.
Call 563-875-2288 for more information.