Alternative Ag Ventures -
Aquaponics is dened asthe symbiotic cultivationo plants and aquaticanimals in a recirculatingenvironment. Fish wasteaccumulates in water asa by-product o keepingthem in a closed system ortank. Te water becomeshigh in plant nutrientsand plants are grown in a way that enables them toutilize the nutrient-rich water. Te plants uptakethe nutrients, reducingor eliminating the water’stoxicity or the aquaticanimal.
- aken rom Wikipedia, Te FreeEncyclopedia; www.en.wikipedia.org, search AquaponicsMarkets or the plant products could include avariety o outlets such as direct on arm or armersmarkets, local restaurants, local retailers, naturalor organic ood stores.Hydroponic produce growers are located worldwide. O over 50,000 acres in hydroponicproduction around the world, approximately 1,200 o those are US acres. Most o these acilitiesin the US are small amily-owned businesses thatproduce on 1/8 - 1 acre. Tese arms producehigh-quality produce and sell it locally. Smalleroperations have an advantage o oering locally-grown produce with minimal transportationcost and damage. It is possible or a hydroponicgrower to yield an excellent prot in this nichemarketplace, oering premium local produceon less than an acre o land. Smaller growerscan establish themselves near the marketplace,eliminating the problems and costs o long-distance transportation.In addition to the smaller growers in the US,there are several large hydroponic acilities thatcover as many as 60 or more acres and producelarge quantities o hydroponic tomatoes, peppers,cucumbers and lettuce. (Aquaponics.com)
Aquaponics is basically a combination o hydroponics and aquaculture. With aquaponics,you are growing sh and plants (usually vegetablesand herbs) in an integrated recirculating system,together. Te waste rom the sh provides nutrientsto eed the growing plants, while the plants act asa natural water lter or the water that the shlive in. Tis results in a sustainable ecosystem thatallows both plants and sh to thrive.Hydroponics involves growing plants withoutsoil. Water and nutrients create a solution that ised directly to the plants’ roots. Most hydroponicsystems involve a growing medium where the plantroots are kept moist and help support the plant.In hydroponics the plant is provided optimumgrowth conditions with ideal water and nutrientratios or growth.In aquaculture, sh are grown in enclosed tanks orponds that can quickly become rich in nutrientsdue to sh waste rom digestion. I in enclosedtanks, the waste water is ltered to keep the tank water ree o toxic buildups.In aquaponics, the sh waste provides a oodsource or the growing plants and the plantsprovide a natural lter or the sh. Tis createsa mini ecosystem where both plants and sh canthrive. Aquaponics is the ideal answer to a sharmers problem o disposing o nutrient rich water and a hydroponic growers need or nutrientrich water.
When considering the market or the productsrom an aquaponics operation there are twoseparate categories; sh and plants, most likely leay vegetables and/or herbs since these are bestsuited or aquaponics.For the sh in an aquaponic operation there aretwo basic market segments, depending on whichspecies are incorporated; the rst is ood. Ediblesh species that do well in aquaponic operationsinclude crappie, blue gill, tilapia, trout, perch, Arctic char, and bass. However, tilapia is theprimary species used or recirculating aquaponicsystems in North America due to its hardiness andability to tolerate a wide variety o conditions.Te second outlet or aquaponic sh could bethe ornamental market. Ornamental marketsinclude tropical and cool water sh or aquariumand landscape ponds. A majority o the Midwestornamentals include sales o goldsh, and KoiCarp.
Photo by: The Center for Innovative Food Technology on location at Rainfresh Harvests (www.rainfreshharvests.com)