The advent of the green revolution has seen an increase in various new technologies that are efficient, productive and most importantly, eco-friendly. Aquaponics is one such technology that combines aquaculture (growing aquatic life) and hydroponics (farming without soil).
Traditional farming methods are costly, time-consuming and are spread out across a vast area of land, not to mention the labour involved and energy consumed to employ these methods. Aquaponics provides a simple alternative to the traditional method by utilizing the water bodies, the fish in them and the bacteria produced by the fish as a result of digestion with minimal utilisation of energy.
Many people would consider Aquaponics to be a modern method of farming but in truth, it dates back to 1000 AD when it was practiced by some ancient civilizations. However, Aquaponics is now undergoing intensive research and is being developed rigorously which has resulted in many experts turning to Aquaponics as a solution to the issues faced by regular farming.
What is Aquaponics?
First of all, let’s take a look at what is Aquaponics.
An Aquaponic System contains three main components: a water body, aquatic life such as fish and the bacteria produced due to the fish excrement. The plants are grown within a closed system and utilize the nutrients generated from the fish. The bacteria attach to the roots of the plants and produce substances that these plants utilize to grow. In return, the products from the same plants cleanse the water and oxygenate it.
Benefits of Aquaponics
Aquaponics is considered as a method of urban farming. As the world population increases, the space for farming and resources has diminished significantly and Aquaponics is the perfect answer as the plants can be cultivated in limited space and the water can be re-circulated and the nutrients are produced as part of the aquatic ecosystem. Even with the additional necessity of fish food and the pH regulators to keep the pH balance, the investment required to maintain the system is much less compared to that of other methods.
Apart from the above benefits, the external energy consumption is comparatively negligible as Aquaponics focuses on creating its own ecosystem. With proper planning, a wide variety of plants can be grown using an Aquaponics system.
Ripple Farms is committed to growing fresh green vegetables throughout the year regardless of the weather conditions in Toronto using technologies of urban farming – specifically Aquaponics. Their mission has not been to just ensure the freshest produce reaches our tables but they also conduct workshops, programs and courses to educate people about Aquaponics and other innovative and effective modern agricultural practices. They have an impressive ‘Traceability’ policy –transparency is ensured in every process of cultivation and the end consumer is aware of the effort that is being put towards the growth of the end product.
As Aquaponics is closely associated with Hydroponics, the same system used for hydroponics can be utilised with little adjustments such as adding fish and regulating the pH of the system.
As mentioned earlier, Aquaponic systems comprise of two components: Aquatic component such as the water body and fish and Hydroponics for growing plants.
Setting up an Aquaponic system can be so simple that it can be done at home. Aquaponic fish tanks are available for sale at many places now that can allow people to harvest vegetables in the comfort of their own home. There are various levels of Aquaponic fish tanks that can be adjusted to the consumers’ needs like beginner, advanced etc and it is a perfect hobby for people who are aquarium hobbyists and love gardening. Different crops such as vegetables, sprouts and greens can be grown around the year, irrespective of the weather conditions.
Aquaponic DIY systems have also become common since setting up an Aquaponic System is so easy. Aquariums are present in many houses and they require very little work to be converted into an Aquaponic system. The easiest Aquaponic DIY system requires an existing fish tank with just four goldfish, a pipe carrying the water to the soil bed or a medium on which plants are grown and of course, the main component – the plants. The water is circulated every 15 minutes to the plants and the water is drained back to the fish tank. Artificial light can be set up to facilitate faster growth of plants, thus making it convenient to be grown in dark places like the garage, basement etc.
Some considerations for setting up an Aquaponic Systems include:
- Continuously flowing water that is well oxygenated.
- Regular fish feed that would result in steady fish waste.
- Regulated pH that would enable the bacteria generated out of the fish waste to thrive and provide required nutrition to the plants
- Healthy fish that would nourish the plants better
- Avoid pesticide or fertilizer usage as this would affect the ecosystem in an aquaponic system
There are several resources available online to help a beginner get started with Aquaponics. Several organizations, including Green Schools Green Future, have made it their mission to educate people about Aquaponics, Hydroponics, Solar Energy and several other green initiatives. At Green Schools Green Future, we take it a step further and aim to implement several of these technologies and build green schools that are self-sustainable and eco-friendly.
We not only aim to educate the kids about green technologies that are easy on the environment, but also hope to reduce carbon footprints by implementing green initiatives on a daily basis.
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