Aquapoinics is an innovative and environmentally friendly food production system, combining the crop and fish production: raising and production of aquaculture and the hydroponic cultivation of agricultural plants. The symbiotic nature of plant cultivation and fish growing in a self-sustainable re-circulating ecosystem, based on natural bacterial cycles to convert fish waste into nutrients, harnesses the best attributes of aquaculture and hydroponics without the need to discard any water or filtrate or add chemical fertilizers. This drastically reduces the maintenance costs related to irrigation, fertilization and pest control.
Additional advantages of aquaponics model are the self-sustainability of the system, which doesn’t require high labour inputs and independence of the plant growing facility from soil quality, structure and physico-chemical composition. These make this agricultural model highly applicable to the poor communities who are financially capable at most to utilize the cheapest soils.
The most understandable explanation of this system is that it is the junction of aquaculture (fish farming) and hydroponics (widely spread soil-less technology) that grows fish and plants together in one integrated system based on naturel symbiotic cycles. The fish waste serves as an organic nutrient source for the plant growth, while plants are acting as natural natural filter for nutrient rich water to clean it up for the fish that live in. The media organisms enabling this uniques symbiosis are the microbes (nitrification bacteria). These ensure the convertiion of the ammonia (a poison chemical element) from the fish waste into nitrites, and afterwards into nitrates (the most common organic plant fertilizer).
Aquaponics combines two of main food productive systems in as follows: Aquaculture systems (closed loop or recirculating) and hydroponics which have experienced worldwide application as separate food production systems, thanks to their comparative higher yields and more efficient use of land and water resources, simpler and more adjustable methods of pollution control, solid level of productive factor management and higher quality of production added greater food safety factor.
Aquaponics Basic System Structure
Main Strengths of Aquaponic Gardening:
Sustainable, stable and high rate food production technology.
Production of fish and vegetables simultaneously from one nutrient source – fish food.
Utterly high water use efficiency.
No Soil requirements.
No fertilizer or chemical pesticide practice.
Higher yields in production – both better: quantitavely and qualitatively.
Organic-like system maintenance and fully organic production.
High biosecurity and lower-to-no risks from outer contaminants.
Higher production control leading to lower issue rates.
Can be used on agriculturally not-suitable lands as deserts, degraded soil or salty and sandy soil types.
Creates little to no waste.
Daily responsibility includes, harvesting and planting: low labour, thus including all genders and ages.
Cost efficient production on family backyard scale food production or cash crops on commercial scale.
Implementation materials are widely available and flexible or replaceable in use.
Aquaponics is a food production system, which is a considerably big contributor to sustainable intensive agriculture, particularly in small/family-scale agriculture. The system comprises favorable as well as collective ways of plant and fish yield and is able to grow high amounts of food where conventional (a.k.a. soil-based agriculture) is arduous or merely impossible. The sustainability of aquaponics innovative technology includes in it the environmental, economic and social dynamics.
Economically, this type of system requires a considerable initial investment, however it is later followed by miserably low recurring additional and continuous costs, adding combined financial returns from both – fish and plant production. From the Environmental side of view, aquaponics is an efficient prevention tool for aquaculture effluent from forming waste water and consequently polluting the watersheds and aquifers, solid and groundwater.
Worth to mention that, aquaponics ensures higher water and production control/balance. Aquaponics in no way relies on chemicals for substrate fertilization, or control of pests or weeds through any synthetic substances. In practice aquaponics can offer quality-of-life improvements to the society, by its availability to grow culturally appropriate crops. Additionally, aquaponics can incorporate livelihood strategies to securing sufficient food and small financial benefits for landless and poor communities.