How Aquaponics Is Revolutionizing Agriculture
Recently, a new method and system of doing agriculture has arisen known as "aquaponics." The term "aquaponics," was derived essentially because this method and system of doing agriculture utilizes a mixture of both "aquaculture" (the raising of fish and/or seafood in a controlled, man-made environment), and "hydroponics" (the raising of plants/fruits/vegetables in a controlled, man-made environment). Add the two together and it equals the term "aquaponics." The concept is not necessarily new, as this method and system was utilized also by many ancient civilizations in certain ways, but this is definitely a modern off-shoot from the more conventional methods of doing agriculture in recent history.
The main premise of aquaponics is that one is utilizing a more-or-less "closed loop" or "self-sustaining" system for growing both plants and fish organically and simultaneously. The plants are generally grown hydroponically in gravel beds, and are fertilized by the waste materials from the fish. Certain species of fish, such as tilapia, can also be fed the waste materials of the plants that are being grown. The water from the fish tank being cycled through the gravel beds with the plants not only waters and fertilizes the plants, but also filters, cleans, and reoxygenates the water for the fish. This is what is meant by "closed-loop" or "self-sustaining" system; the fish and plants are feeding off of eachother in a symbiotic type of relationship, with no other materials needing to be added, purchased, or taken away. Of course, both the plants/fruits/vegetables as well as the fish can be harvested for human consumption too.
By utilizing this system of agriculture, one is eliminating all environmental pollutants, and providing nutrients of plants/fruits/vegetables and fish in his/her diet. Once the system is set up and fully functional, the person or persons operating the system would not have to purchase most of his/her/their food, or purchase any further farming supplies or materials to keep the system functioning (except maybe electricity to run the water pump if you are not using your own solar or wind-generated power). The secret to the system functioning properly is keeping the pH of the water at the right liveable levels for the fish and plants. Any excess food produced could also be sold at local markets.
An aquaponics system is relatively easy to build and operate. One can start small using conventional fish tanks to begin, then graduate to 50-gallon drums cut in half with rebar frame supports and a simple water pump. Once one is experienced at operating such a system, a similar system can be built on a much larger scale using materials such as above-ground swimming pools, and on up from there.
The main point being here is that whole New Urbanist communities can be fed using this method and system of agriculture, which would supply locally sourced organic food to the community, while eliminating any fossil-fuel and/or transportation-related issues as well as environmental pollutants related to agricultural production.
Check out a few youtube clips of aquaponics systems-
Also see my Blog titled Permaculture Design and Environmental Studies at UTSI, Costa Rica by clicking on Dylan's Blog below.
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