Water quality monitoring beacons from Aquasend hitting market soon
Aquasend, which is building a water quality monitoring buoy for aquaculture operations, will officially launch its Aquasend Beacon in February, and is ramping up operations to bring the product to the mass market in the next 12 to 18 months, CEO Kristin Elliott told SeafoodSource.
A handful of aquaculture operations, including two tilapia farms in California – where Aquasend is based – are currently testing the beacons, and Aquasend is developing case studies. The company is focusing primarily on land-based fish farms, but is also exploring coastal applications, such as oyster farms.
The Beacons are meant to be a durable, accurate, low-maintenance product that incorporates knowledge gained by Aquasend’s parent company Precision Measurement Engineering, which has built devices to collect data about water conditions for more than 30 years. The standard Beacon has sensors for oxygen and temperature, with the potential for add-ons.
"We wanted to ensure that the beacon could operate for a long period of time. If there's no sun for a day, how long can the battery last? We want to make sure the connectivity is good through the radio network," Elliott said. "There was a lot of work in ensuring this product is bullet proof and could last for a long time."
The real-time data stream will be a boon for farmers accustomed to doing spot checks of water quality by dipping and testing a water sample – and will allow for continuous, rather than periodic, monitoring. Multiple beacons will be able to communicate with each other via a mesh network, while an internet dashboard will allow farmers to plot current and historical data – and optimize operations.
"Farmers can understand how to maintain oxygen or maybe increase productivity. By maintaining this oxygen, they can see what their ponds can support, and they can minimize the amount of time their guys are out there analyzing oxygen," Elliott said. "There are a lot of analytics and a lot we can understand just from looking at the data these farms produce.”
Self-cleaning capabilities will limit maintenance. The Beacon has a wiping system that wipes the sensor, much like a toothbrush on teeth. It wipes every or hour two depending on the algae load in the water. Organic growth on the sensor can distort oxygen level readings.
Inside the buoy, anti-fouling paint suppresses growth of organic material, while two slowly dissolving chlorine tablets release chlorine over the course of two to three months. A periodic bright flash of ultraviolet light kills any remaining organic materials.
"We're tackling fouling from all angles because we want the farmer to be able to spend time on the farm, not cleaning the equipment," Elliott said.
Photo courtesy of Aquasend