AQUAPONICS AND A SUSTAINABLE FUTURE

A fast-increasing world population means a rapid urbanization process, which is taking over what was once fertile farmlands. In general, urban sprawl, droughts, and arid climate are causing food shortages. How are we going to manage to grow enough food to keep up and what’s the solution for severe global shortages?

WHAT IS AQUAPONICS?

Aquaponics refers to the relationship between water, aquatic organisms, bacteria, nutritional dynamics, and plants that grow together in water areas worldwide.

Explained in detail, an artificial ecosystem is created in which fish are fed, their waste is broken down into more absorbable forms by beneficial bacteria and the converted waste is then pushed through the system, where it provides food for plants. The plants act as a natural filter, cleaning the water, which is then recirculated through the aquaponic system.

HOW DOES AQUAPONICS WORK?

Aquaponics is a blending of three important conditions, combining fish farming with hydroponics (soilless gardening) in the presence of beneficial bacteria. Proper system function relies on the nitrogen cycle. Ammonia, nitrite, and nitrate are the main biological toxins that occur in an aquarium, so the nitrogen cycle must work effectively to convert and remove all of these waste by-products.

A network of beneficial bacteria is required in the aquaponic set-up. The beneficial bacteria converts ammonia from fish urine and feces into nitrite and the beneficial bacteria then converts the nitrite into nitrate, a form of nitrogen that plants can receive and tolerate at low levels. Without the action of this network of beneficial bacteria, the water would develop toxic levels of nitrite which is harmful to fish and plants.
A major drawback to aquaponics systems is the need for constant nutrient and pH monitoring to maintain beneficial bacteria. If the pH level is not suitable for the system, being too low or too high, the plants won’t be able to absorb nutrients optimally and your fish may eventually die.

WHAT ARE THE ENVIRONMENTAL BENEFITS OF AQUAPONICS?

There are many reasons to choose commercial and small-scale home aquaponics systems over traditional methods of farming fish and vegetables separately. Aquaponics is an eco-friendly, organic, cost-effective, innovative, and highly marketable method of cultivation.

Aquaponics is also advantageous in that it preserves water resources. Plants absorb the fish waste, acting as an organic filter. In this way, water can be continuously recirculated, only periodically needing a fill-up to make up for evaporation and plant transpiration.

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