Why Aquaponics Farming Is Sustainable
Aquaponic farming has been around for quite a while, and businesses now promote it as a sustainable way to raise both seafood and crops. As a result, it has grown in popularity among people, organizations, educators, and authorities.
Many say that this technique will generate far more food with less water, space, and human resources than conventional farming. But is that truly the case? In this post, we will go deeper into aquaponic farming and its sustainability.
How Aquaponic Farming Can Bring Sustainability to The Planet
Aquaponic farming is a type of agriculture that integrates fish farming in containers with soilless plant cultivation. It comes in a variety of sizes, from modest residential units to massive commercial facilities, and it can be either freshwater or saltwater.
1. Consumes Very Few Resources
Water and land are highly valuable resources, yet their excessive consumption has become a serious issue in conventional farming. Water and land availability and quality are two major constraints for food production across the world.
According to data, aquaponics farming needs 90% less water than traditional farming. 100 gallons of water given to an aquaponic garden can be recirculated for a week or more, whereas it may only last a day in traditional farming.
2. Can Be Done Anywhere
Not every place is suitable for traditional farming. This is because it needs a certain type of soil. The soil must contain diversified microbiology as well as a proper balance of gravel, clay, and other organic materials to be used for farming.
The soil must also have the proper density not to contain excessive amounts of water. Getting the soil exactly right generally involves a large amount of human and animal interaction.
Aquaponic farming systems totally eliminate soil from the equation, which sometimes frustrates traditional gardeners. Another advantage is that it allows plant roots to get what they want and need without digging through the soil, allowing them to focus all of their energy on developing into bountiful harvests.
Aquaponic farming’s soil-free feature allows it to bring sustainable agriculture to areas where it would otherwise be impossible. This system supplies the plant with everything it needs (nutrients, air, and running water) in a perfect balance that is completely sustainable.
3. Produces Protein and Vegetable Crops at the Same Time, All Year Round
A wonderful example of indoor gardening is an aquaponic greenhouse. When paired with a regulated environment, you can grow in any climate all year.
Controlling water temperature is not a big deal when you grow fish and vegetables indoors. Fish generally will withstand any water temperature since it is cold-blooded. On the other hand, vegetables will strive in an aquaponic setting as long as you grow them in the right season.
However, depending on the kind of fish you pick, you may need to install a heater to maintain proper water temperatures. Some farmers frequently use low-cost heat sources such as photovoltaic heaters or heated compost.
4. Less Waste, More Eco-Friendly
Plants clean the water in an aquaponic setup by eliminating the nitrogen and phosphate generated by the fishery. The fishery, for its part, offers the necessary nutrients for plant development.
In addition, researchers have created a system that converts solid human food waste into fish food. They take solid food waste and dry it in an oven before turning it into small pellets that are given to fish.
This approach reduces the amount of foodstuff that reaches the waste stream and considerably reduces the cost of commercially raising fish. Furthermore, this solution eliminates the issues created by unsustainable fish farming practices.
5. Brings Financial Benefits
Perhaps it is true that the investment cost in aquaponic farming is rather high. However, when compared to traditional farming, labor costs such as plowing and pest control are lower. Furthermore, recurrent costs are smaller on the whole.
Many aquaponic farmers earn a living by selling fish, vegetables, selling and installing aquaponic systems, and teaching aquaponic classes. This demonstrates how aquaponic farming can be a viable way to make a livelihood.
It also reduces what is known as “food miles.” We can produce more food at home and in our neighborhoods thanks to aquaponics. This implies better and more affordable nutrients since our food is fresher and less of the drawbacks related to lengthy shipping.
Long-distance food delivery uses enormous amounts of money and fuel, in addition to contamination and carbon emissions. Long-distance food delivery necessitates more hands touching it, additional refrigeration and packing, and increased food safety issues.
Easy Ways to Start Sustainable Aquaponic Farming
Sustainable aquaponic farming resembles nature since the plant reuses and consumes the animal’s waste, creating a continuous pattern. However, creating and maintaining system balance and ensuring ideal circumstances for fish and plants demands constant monitoring of many factors.
Here are what you will need to set up your aquaponic farming system:
Fish are important in aquaponic farming systems since their waste gives natural nutrients to the crops. Choose fish that are stress-tolerant, simple to raise, and widely available in your area to get the most production out of your fish.
A closed system can support a large number of fish. Native fish species are easy to obtain, and you will not need permission or a license to keep them at home.
Tilapia is one of the ideal fish for aquaponics since it is quite resilient. It is a great-tasting fish that adapts well to most settings. They prefer temperatures between 82°F and 86°F but may live at temperatures beyond this range.
If you have the time to devote to the required upkeep, the Murray Cod is an excellent choice. Even in a confined space, this fish will develop quickly. They will consume fish relatively smaller than themselves as they develop.
Suppose you do not want to consume fish from your setup. In that case, you might need to rely on decorative fish such as Goldfish. They are a hardy species that can survive in very polluted water. They should also reach a pound in size within a year.
Plants play an important part in the entire cycle of the aquaponics arrangement by purifying and oxygenating the water. Plants can help in filtering solid waste and absorb nitrates as well.
While an aquaponics system can grow almost anything, keeping things simple at first is a good idea. Growing basic plants that do not require much care is a sensible move.
Leafy lettuce is arguably the most widely cultivated aquaponic plant, owing to its simplicity and productivity. Lettuce also has a shorter growing period and prefers sunlight, making it an excellent option for outdoor and aquaponic gardens.
Kale plants also thrive in aquaponic systems. Kale can withstand slightly higher pH levels while requiring fewer nutrients than lettuce and may be grown in the bright sunlight outside. Aquaponic kale is harvestable after about five to six weeks.
Radish is another beginner-friendly aquaponic plant. Radishes, from white daikon to traditional red, are one of the simplest crops to cultivate in aquaponics.
Some of you may not be aware that aquaponic farming is used for fruits and veggies and for flowers and decorative plants. Sunflowers can grow from seed five feet tall in an aquaponic environment under the correct circumstances.
In aquaponic farming, there are two types of bacteria: helpful bacteria and pathogenic bacteria. Beneficial bacteria convert organic wastes into organic fertilizers; they are the engine that drives aquaponic systems.
Develop your system in an enclosed aquaponic greenhouse to avoid pathogenic bacteria. Keep household pets and animals besides fish away from your setup so that pathogenic bacteria do not enter the water.
The media-based system is the most widely known aquaponic system. Plants are grown in this system in growing media such as gravel or clay pebbles. It is easy, efficient, and has a minimum starting cost, making it appropriate for novices.
The growing media is porous to help it to retain water for a longer period, allowing for more effective nutrient uptake. The water from the fish tank is pushed by gravity into the grow beds, allowing the plants to absorb the nutrients.
The raft system is also a good aquaponic farming option for beginners. The plants are cultivated on rafts that float on the surface of the water. Many industrial aquaponics farmers use this technique because it helps plants to grow quicker and produce more food.
Recycling is a low-cost method to get started if you are on a tight budget yet want to create your homemade aquaponics system. An old bathtub may be a nice point to start.
More affordable home aquaponic farming kits are also available in the market today. These kits are ideal for growing microgreens, baby spinach, ornamental plants, and other small, quick-growing leafy greens.
Aquaponic farming is a wonderful choice for people looking for new methods to raise food, especially because it has the potential to help lessen the emissions of greenhouse gasses. Aquaponic farming is scalable and can also be recreated anywhere.