So What is Aquaponics

Nick Savidov
Alberta Agriculture and Rural Development Crop Diversification Centre, Brooks, AB

For Canadian Greenhouse Conference Wednesday, October 6, 2010 Toronto

Challenges in Agriculture
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Limited resources Environmental impact and nutrient management High energy input Economic sustainability of greenhouse operations Existing markets are near to saturation in Europe and North America

How we can address those challengies? Is there “magic bullet”, which will make greenhouse industry more sustainable and environmentally friendly in 21st century? We need to continue looking for new ideas, “outof-box” solutions. In future, we may need to completely change our agricultural paradigm, the way we produce food today.

Example: Integrated Production Systems.The solution may already exist today. can be one of the answers What is aquaponics? Aquaculture + Hydroponics = Aquaponics Clean water Nutrient Rich Water Solids Removal Cleaning Circuit Aeration . but we are not fully aware of it. like aquaponics.

What is wrong with this definition? .

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Fact 1: In conventional hydroponics and aquaculture systems microorganisms are not desirable Fact 2: In integrated systems microflora is an inherent part of the system .

The Basic Process: Fish provide source of nutrients. microorganisms convert organic waste and toxic compounds like ammonium into soluble nutrients available for plants. plants utilize soluble salts regenerating water for fish production .

aquaponics is an example of Integrated Production System based on recirculating technology incorporating fish and plant production in one closed loop .Technically.

Biologically. aquaponics is an example of artificial ecosystem or agro-ecosystem designed for a purpose of food production .

Biocontrol in existing greenhouses mimics food chain relationships observed in nature Integration of fish into the greenhouse production takes the concept to the next level creating fully sustainable artificial ecosystems .This approach is not new.

The concept is simple. but underlying mechanisms are very complex: involve interactions between the many components of the system .

Objectives of the aquaponics project     Technical feasibility Food safety Test marketing Economic feasibility .

Tilapia was selected in the present study as a fish component of the system Nile tilapia Red (hybrid) tilapia .

Brooks Aquaponics Facility is based on the Model developed in University of Virgin Island Fish tanks Clarifiers Filter tanks Plant growing troughs .

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Building the plant troughs 1.5” thick sheets of painted styrofoam cut to hold 2” or 4” pots .

Generation 4 GeoTube Sump Oxygen chamber Oxygen Generator 2’’ LHO P1 P3 3’’ 2’’ 4’’ 3’’ LHO pum p P2 3’’ 3’’ Drum Filter 4’’ CO2 degasing tank Fish tank Clarifier Swirl Separators Biofilter tanks Plant growing bed .

5 tons year-1 Basil crop production – 2.5 tons year-1 .Parameters of the system      Total volume – 73 m3 Plant area – 84 m2 Flow rate – 400 L min-1 Fish production capacity – 4.

flowers.In total. . medicinal herbs. culinary herbs. over 60 different crops have been tested since 2002 including four main greenhouse vegetables. leafy vegetables.

Tomatoes .

Bitter melon .

Ocimum basilicum .

kg m-2 year-1 50 40 30 20 10 0 Amaranth Lettuce Basil Genovese Choi Basil Osmin Coriander Dill Portulaca Basil Lemon Chives Cilantro Purdue Culantro Fenugreek Parsley Spinach Water cress .Annual production of herbs in aquaponics 60 Water spinach Swiss Chard Yield.

Strawberry experiment .

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4 1.4 0.8 1. Albion.8 0.2 0 April May June July .Monthly production of strawberry. cv.6 1. grown on coconut coir using hydroponics and aquaponics solutions hydroponics aquaponics 2 1.6 0.2 1 0.

Long English cucumber experiment .

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number per sq.0 Coir Sawdust Substrate Biochar Fruit number per sq.0 30.0 20.0 15. m Hydroponics Aquaponics 50. m .Hydroponics vs. Aquaponics in long English cucumber production.0 0.0 45.0 10.0 25.0 5.0 40.0 35.

Aquaponics: Feed Solution Analysis Hydroponics vs.Hydroponics vs. Aquaponics: Cucumber Fruit Analysis .

Effect of aquaponics water on plant growth: comparison of produced biomass in hydroponic and aquaponic nutrient solutions Crop Plant Basil Rosemary Cucumber Tomato Hydroponic Height Shoot Root (cm) (g) (g) 30 226 68 31 141 119 138 1180 219 110 1616 198 Aquaponic Height Shoot Root (cm) (g) (g) 35 301 111 35 226 290 156 1580 274 114 1841 279 .

Rosemary roots Hydroponics Aquaponics .

.This study indicates that there is a factor stimulating nutrient uptake and assimilation of nutrients by plants grown in aquaponic solutions where nutrients and many organic compounds are derived from fish feed.

Features of the system       The same water was recirculated in the system during eight years and only compensated for evapotranspiration No sodium chloride or calcium build up during this period pH had been stabilized No supplemental nutrients added No pesticides used No waste produced in the system at all .

Canada .Conclusion  Aquaponics approach provides a sustainable organic solution for greenhouse crop production Aquaponic modules at CDC Research Station. Alberta.

Canada   Dr. Mike Nichols University of Alberta. New Zealand  Dr. Vipan Bansal Dr. Lisa Stein . Andrew Keddie Dr. Nick Savidov Dan Watson Massey University. Canada    Dr.Multidisciplinary Team Alberta Agriculture and Rural Development.

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