A new dawn is upon us. The future is here. What is it you say? Well it’s aquaponics of course. Aquaponics……? You feed the fish, the fish feed the plant, and the plants clean the water for the fish. There you go, aquaponics in a nutshell. While it is not quite that easy, and nothing ever is, aquaponics can provide high quality produce and fresh fish in an easy, sustainable way. Within an aquaponics system, a natural microbial process breaks down fish excrements, creating nutrient-rich water which acts as a source of organic fertilizer for the growing plants. The plants consume the nutrients, purifying the water that the fish live in.
Aquaponics is still in its infancy as far as a commercially viable alternative. But just like the advances in hybrid and electric cars, aquaponics offers solutions to many of the vexing problems concerning pollution and the conservation of precious natural resources.
Aquaponically grown produce and fish demonstrate a significant improvement over traditional agricultural practices particularly when compared to fossil fuel energy embedded in various aspects of food production (including fertilizers, pesticides, processing, equipment, water pumping etc.)
Water is a scarce commodity and without clean drinking water, we as humans are going to have a rough go at it. And yet, ¾ of water use in the United States is used to water crops, only to have it rapidly drain away. And in the process of draining it collects fertilizers and farm chemicals that ultimately end up in the ground water (our drinking water). The excess fertilizers and farm chemicals flow into our rivers and bays causing algae-blooms and killing aquatic life. Roughly 10% of the chemicals that a soil farmer spreads on his fields are actually taken up by his plants; the rest is dissolved into the groundwater.
The beauty of aquaponics is the symbiotic relationship that occurs between the plant and the fish. Because the fish need fresh, clean water, no fertilizers or pesticides can be used on the plants. The result is produce that is equivalent to organic produce found at your local farmers market and fish that taste like they were pulled straight of a mountain stream.
Aquaponics is quickly becoming a big time player and sustainable option for future agricultural needs. It conserves precious groundwater. It eliminates our exposure to harmful farm chemical on and in our food. It produces safe, full-flavored food all year long that can be grown in highly populated areas without needing vast, open plots of land. It is highly adaptable to advances in technology and can be customized to fit many different types of fish and plants. What’s not to love about aquaponics? This system sells itself because it is unique, natural, and beneficial to both people and the environment. Get on board, because before you know it aquaponics will be one of the major methods of food production for the future.
-written by Danny Kehoe, Business Development Intern, Spring 2012