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Thailand Update Six

Thailand Update # 6 by Blane Baker
Monday, January 16, 2017

Today we worked on several additional projects with UHDP staff. In the morning, we began discussing how to make a more sustainable raft for the aquaponics system. We had originally set up the system using a styrofoam raft, as suggested by many books and training manuals. The raft is the part that floats on water in the plant bed and holds the potted plants in place. Several folks from UHDP suggested that we try bamboo as a material for the raft. It was amazing to see the energy and spirit of collaboration as everyone worked to accomplish building the raft. After 1-2 hours, our first prototype bamboo raft stayed afloat and held containers of plants very well.

In order for aquaponics to be used effectively in villages, we also need to find alternatives to plastic plant containers. Two main materials emerged from our discussions and brainstorming. The first is a certain leaf material that curls as it dries. Using the natural curl of this particular leaf and tapering one end results in a V shape. Tying string or other material around the outside to maintain this shape makes a suitable container. One main concern about the leaf container is its reliability over time.

The second material is bamboo which is available throughout most of SE Asia. In our design we cut a section of bamboo to the desired height of the plant container. The bottom consisted of either the natural horizontal cross section or a piece of bamboo stuffed into the bottom. Four drainage, holes were drilled into the bottom and/or sides. For stability when placed in the raft, two holes were drilled near the top of the container and a bamboo stem was passed through to produce a horizontal support. When the container is inserted into a hole in the raft the support prevents sinking and tipping. The bamboo plant containers were successfully implemented with the bamboo raft completed earlier.

After lunch UHDP staff met with us to see demonstrations and examples of solar energy applications and to discuss possible projects at UHDP. As part of the demonstrations we showed several products and devices that we brought to help UHDP develop solar energy for its own sustainability and for training others. Some of the items displayed and discussed include small, portable solar-cell-battery-powered lights, a solar-powered cell phone charger with multiple ports, and an example of how to construct a 12 V solar panel -battery system for operating devices such as lights and pumps. UHDP staff are excited to construct their own 12 V lighting systems and to operate the aquaponics system with a 12 V pump, both operated with solar power. We are thrilled to see their interest. And we know that they will make the most of these new opportunities.






In the evening we enjoyed a wonderful meal made primarily from the agroforest around UHDP. We also exchanged gifts and prayed for each other. We were blessed by this time spent in community as children of God.








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