It’s a good question – but it’s one for which there is no simple answer.
Some of the factors that have impacted the visibility of iAVs include:
- Other commercial models (notably the UVI model) gained traction through 30 years of funded concept demonstrations and accompanied by many training courses premised on the model.
- Mark was dismissed by NCSU administrators because he defied their attempts to sell the proprietary rights to multinational agri-biz conglomerates.
- Most of the research work associated with iAVs (and the subsequent dissemination effort) was funded by Mark – which is why he was able to resist NCSU attempts to monetize iAVs. He eventually exhausted those funds.
- His dissemination efforts in Africa had medical repercussions which eventually bankrupted him and left him unable to continue his (gratis) promotional work in support of iAVs. This happened at the same time that the basic flood and drain model, and the UVI raft model, came into being.
- The conservative politics at major US universities during the 1980’s meant that anything that attempted to span disciplines, in the way that iAVs did, was bound to invite conflict….particularly in terms of the life-sciences and agriculture.
- The bureaucracy (be it governments, the UN, PVO’s, NGO’s etc) don’t “get” science or commerce. Much of the energy that occurs within these organizations is about protecting/furthering their borders and/or their privileges and authority.
- Venture capitalists require full-fledged feasibility studies of appropriate scale before financing any start-up enterprise – including any novel agriculture/food-production methodology.
- All of the other factors involved were compounded by….the times. There was no internet (much less Google and the other search engines) to promote aquaponics. In fact, the term “aquaponics” had not come into use by the time that Mark capitulated to imposed realities.
- There were/are many established, economically viable, proven alternative methods that grow horticulture crops in protected environments (GH) and still are – albeit that production from ‘Organic’- certified ‘ponics’ could be from 200 – 300% more profitable than inorganic/traditional production methods.
- iAVs was disseminated gratis (for free) and primarily to PVO/NGO’s for application in lesser developed countries (3rd world) without a profit motive. No one ever values (or appreciates) what they get for free.
- Agronomists and Horticulture Science researchers and most growers are generally overtly hostile to the concept of fish culture in association with their established careers/activities/vested self-interest.
- Less effective aquaponics models have been hyped ad nauseum by numerous aquaponics entrepreneurs. Their dominant position in the minds of aquaponicists has more to do with a fifteen-year head start online than from any actual merit – nor due to any technical shortcoming on the part of iAVs.
It’s fair to say that, given the factors that were in play at the time that iAVs came into being, it’s no real surprise that it became aquaponics’ best-kept secret.
Additional clinical research is/will be required to fully elucidate iAVs’ full potential, constraints, development opportunities, and commercial-scale viability.
iAVs has not yet been optimized in regard to the productivity of either fish or plants – much less any specific crop.
We intend that, with the assistance of those who become convinced of its merits, to see it take its rightful place in the broader aquaponics scheme of things.