Q: What is Aquaponics?
A: Aquaponics combines hydroponic techniques of farming with aquaculture (Aqua + Ponic = Aquaponics). Water is cycled between fish tanks and vegetable growing areas. As a symbiotic system with living animals, the fish fertilize the plants and the plants filter the water for the fish.
Q: How is aquaponics different than hydroponics and/or aquaculture?
A: Hydroponics is a chemical based system in which unused nutrients in the water build up to toxic levels and the water needs to be flushed and replaced regularly. This causes a problem with the proper disposal of toxic water. Aquaculture is a method of growing fish indoors that creates lots of excess fish waste that can build up to toxic levels if not managed properly. What is a potentially toxic waste product in aquaculture is a key input for fertilization in aquaponics.
Q: How do the fish and plants interact?
A: As the water circulates, fish waste acts as a natural fertilizer for the crops. Plants and beneficial bacteria scrub ammonia and other nitrogenous compounds from the water, making it safe for the fish.
Q: How much water can I save by growing food with aquaponics?
A: Due to the fact that the water recirculates, there is very low water consumption and minimal water loss due to evaporation. It is commonly accepted that aquaponics uses around 90% less water than growing food in soil.
Q: Is aquaponics organic?
A: The regulations pertaining to organic certifications are geared towards soil-based agriculture and each region will have different requirements for an organic certification. That said, “[aquaponics] is necessarily an organic process. If pesticides are applied to the plants, the fish will suffer. If growth hormones or antibiotics are given to the fish, the plants will suffer.” (Aquaponic Gardening, Sylvia Bernstein) In addition, an increasing number of pesticides and fertilizers are allowed in organic certifications.
Q: Where can I install an aquaponics system?
A: Aquaponics is both versatile and adaptable. Systems can be designed to fit in almost any space. When aquaponics is combined with a controlled environment in the form of a Solar Greenhouse it makes one of the most effective methods of producing significant quantities of quality organic food in a limited space possible.
Q: When can I grow food?
A: Designing a controlled environment such as an aquaponic solar greenhouse enables food production to continue all year in areas with a normally limited growing season.
Q: Why use aquaponics?
A: Modern industrial agriculture has depleted top soil across all continents. Top soil is necessary for the health of fresh water ecosystems, to sequester atmospheric greenhouse gasses, and to recharge aquifers. Please take a moment to view this video by NASA that records the ground water loss across the world from 2003-2009.
Q: Are there psychological benefits to practicing aquaponics?
A: Yes! In general, it is commonly accepted that working closely with plants and animals increases happiness.
In particular, plants have been shown to:
- Lower blood pressure (systolic)
- Improve reaction times
- Increase attentiveness
- Improve attendance (at work and school)
- Raise productivity (at work)
- Improve well-being
- Improve perceptions of the space
- Lower levels of anxiety during recovery from surgery
- Raise job satisfaction
Q: Does aquaponics have an effect on greenhouse gas emmissions?
A: Yes! Because there is no soil to till, we do not need to use heavy machinery that depletes the top soil while producing emissions from fossil fuels. Also, because we are not depleting the soil but rather allowing it to renew itself, we are also contributing to the growth of healthy soils to sequester atmospheric greenhouse gasses.
Contact Daniel at Day One Solar for an aquaponic consultation today!