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** Aquaponics - The integration of AQUAculture and hydroPONICS ** AQUAPONICS ** Where fish and plants grow in the same system ** AQUAPONICS ** Aquaponics can be done anywhere in the world, regardless of soil types ** AQUAPONICS ** A sustainable way of growing organic produce for the world
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Aquaponics is a combination of Aquaculture & Hydroponics. This means that fish and plants are grown in an integrated system, creating a symbiotic relationship between the two.

An Aquaponic system uses the water from the fish tank to circulate through a grow bed where the plants are grown.

Nitrifying bacteria convert fish wastes into plant-available nutrients. The plants use these nutrients as their main nutrient supply. The fish also benefit from this process , as the water is filtered by the plants, giving the fish clean water to live in.

Plant Growth in Aquaponics System

This integrated system of Aquaponics has benefits not achievable when Aquaculture and Hydroponics are done separately. Aquaculture has the problem of buildup of wastes in the water, requiring filtering systems to clean the water as well as periodic releasing of waste water into the environment. Hydroponics uses chemical nutrients that eventually build up in the water and create toxic water. This water can no longer be used in the irrigation of the plants and is disposed of into the environment.

Aquaponics takes both of these problems and turns them into solutions, as the waste in the water is used to feed the plants, therefore not requiring any chemical nutrients to be added to the system, and can have no pollution of the environment by either fish wastes or chemical pollutants.

There is currently a great deal of interest in Australia about sustainable farming practices including water use, and the degradation of our soils and waterways. Aquaponics uses less water to produce the same amount of food as conventional agriculture, organic agriculture and hydroponics.


Strawberries in Aquaponics System

As access to water is a critical factor for farming in any country, the use of Aquaponic systems with its low water requirement means that food can be produced in places that it would not normally be grown. Fish from the Aquaculture component of the Aquaponic system can be also harvested, providing fish in areas that do not have natural access to fish in their waterways.

Aquaponics combined with a climate-controlled environment such as a greenhouse, can produce food year round. Another limiting factor for farmers worldwide is access to fertile soils capable of producing quality food. Aquaponics does not need any soils, therefore being able to be utilised almost anywhere in the world.

Environmental Benefits

Reduced water use – with water being a scarce resource in Australia, it makes sense to use methods that reduce the amount of water used to produce the same amount of food. As the water from the fish tank is recirculated, the amount of water lost in the system is minimal. In conventional farming, the irrigation water is pumped out onto the land, only to be lost through evaporation, percolation or runoff.

Tomatoes in Aquaponics System
Lemongrass in Aquaponics System

Reduced chemical use – the need for chemicals is reduced dramatically in an aquaponics system, as the nutrient is made available to the plants by the fish waste. The use of chemicals in an aquaponics system can be harmful to the fish, and can disrupt the natural interactions of the fish and their environment.

Reduces erosion by eliminating the need to plough the soil – the problem of erosion in Australia is immense, with many acres of precious topsoil being lost to water and wind erosion every year, and our waterways experiencing silt build-up.

Controlled environment reduces the need for pesticides – when an Aquaponics system is set up in a greenhouse, the likelihood of infiltration by pests is reduced dramatically.

Commercial Producer Benefits

Quality farm food production typically needs land with high quality soil and access to large amounts of water. Australia does not have much land that is classed as fertile, and the small amount we do have is expensive , therefore we need other ways of growing food that does not rely on equity. The beauty of Aquaponics is that any person can do it, regardless of their location, provided there is a supply of water. This water supply can be as simple as rainwater stored in tanks.

Several Aquaponics System Grow Beds

Corn in an Aquaponics System

Reduced running costs – the cost of running a conventional horticultural farm is huge, with the cost of tractors and all the implements needed reaching into the $100's thousands. With Aquaponic systems, there is no ploughing or spraying, reducing the need for large tractors which use large amounts of diesel fuel, and also reducing the need for the farmer to spend alot of their money on synthetic chemicals.

Being exposed to chemicals is not good for us, yet we continue to use them to help grow our food. The farmer has more exposure to these chemicals as they are physically handling them in preparation of spraying. The farmer is also exposed while spraying the liquid, especially if the wind blows it back into the direction of the farmer.

Backyard Producer Benefits

The reduced water use in an Aquaponics system compared to plants grown in soil is also a benefit for backyard growers, as many cities and coastal areas around Australia now have restrictions on the amount of water they are allowed to use.

Stop the backbreaking work of digging up the soil in the vegetable patch, Aquaponic systems are generally constructed so that the plants and roots are above ground level, giving you the opportunity to plant, grow and harvest all without hardly bending your back!

Strawberry Leaves
Seedlings Sprouting in an Aquaponics System

An Aquaponic system set up in the backyard can help to teach kids about how plants and fish grow, and to teach them about the ecological interactions that are occurring between the fish, the plants and their environment.

The great thing about Aquaponics as a learning tool, is it also produces healthy, organic food for the family, all year round.



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