Integrated aquaculture, hydroponics and vermiculture for food production – rooftops?

David J Midmore and Brett Roe Centre for Plant and Water Science, Central Queensland University

Outline of Presentation
• Arguments for recycling/urban/rooftop agriculture • Earlier research, hydroponics, aquaponics, vermiculture • Current theory and nutrient loops • Nutrient budgets and transfer • Hydroponics…feed from liquor and fish effluent • Fish…………. feed from worms • Vermiculture... feed from organic waste • Bring it all together • Logistics and future project

Why promote urban agriculture?
• Upward trends in urbanisation, 60% world population by 2020 • Imperatives differ in developed and developing countries • Food security in developing countries

Perceived benefits of urban agriculture in developed countries
• • • • • • • Offset heat islands in cities - open space-greenery Recycling organic materials close at hand Closing nutrient cycles/loops Re-use of waste water Social/healthy activity Food security Health and environmental risks

Some simple rooftop hydroponics

Commercialised seedling production in Hanoi for rooftop hydroponics

Jan Holland’s Honour’s project on aquaponics - CQU

Aquaponics System Design – Dr Brett Roe, CQU

USA - Aquaranch

USA - Growing Power

USA – Growing Power

Plants from Ecocity (NSW) and from rooftop simplified hydroponics (Canada)

Some realities
• In nature nutrients cycle between soil, plants, animals and microbes, but human interference through the need to feed urban populations breaks this cycle. • Nutrients contained within urban organic wastes rarely re-enter the nutrient cycle, yet they represent a valuable resource for food production. • Recycling organic wastes via vermiculture, aquaculture and hydroponics offers one way to recycle some of the nutrients (and water).

Nutrient Loops

Hydroponics

Nutrient

Nutrient Loops

Nutrient

Fish

Nutrient Loops

Hydroponics

Effluent

Water

Nutrient Supplements

Fish

Nutrient Loops
Consumption

Hydroponics

Effluent

Water

Nutrient Supplements

Fish

Consumption

Nutrient Loops
Consumption
Organic wastes

Hydroponics

Effluent

Water

Vermiculture Fish
Organic wastes

Nutrient Supplements

Consumption

Nutrient Loops
Consumption
Organic wastes

Hydroponics
Liquor Effluent Water

Vermiculture
Worms Organic wastes

Nutrient Supplements

Fish

Consumption

Matching nutrient supply and demand
Getting nutrients balanced – not so easy as it may appear. The ‘Holy Grail’ according to Aquaponics Journal, 2006

For Hydroponics
N P K Ca Mg S Fe Mn Zn Cu B Mo Manutec commercial hydroponic mix (ppm) % 215.00 29.80 37.00 0.50 218.00 30.20 152.00 21.10 42.00 0.60 54.00 0.70 4.08 0.06 0.96 <0.01 0.48 <0.01 0.36 <0.01 0.036 <0.01 0.012 <0.01 Vermicompost ppm 0.5-1.5 *1000 0.01-0.3*1000 0.1-0.6*1000 22.7-47.6 22.7-47.6 128-548 2-9 5-11 2-9 ppm 29500 10900 20900 753 149 23 69 41 51 31 0.39 0.11 Vermiliquor ppm ppm 30700 37000.00 19700 15000 18400 23000 636 600 153 165 29 28 93 70 19 50 55 65 13 18 0.24 0.50 0.13 0.10 ppm 33800 9700 21000 660 255 16 42 40 64 12 0.60 0.10

Linking supply from aquaponics and from hydroponics – data of Savidov et al. 2007

Linking supply from aquaponics and from hydroponics – data of Savidov et al. 2007

Nitrate present in water with lettuce and silver perch aquaponics

Holland, J. 2002.

Aquaponic system recovery rates (%) for N
Fish 37 18-32 42-47 36.9 Plants 17 8.5-31 8-67 62.1 Water 34 15 0-37 0.1

Holland (2002) Quillere et al. (1995) Seagate et al . (1998) Roe (2005)

For Fish
Fish food Gross protein Essential polyunsaturated fattyacids of omega-3 series Minerals Ca, P, Na, Mg, K Cl, S and traces of others Ten essential amino acids Eleven water/fat soluble vitamins % 28-50 6-10 oil 2-4 Earthworm meal1 % 60-70 7-10 2.3 Earthworm Earthworm meal2 % meal3 % 52-63 67-76 14.5-15.5 5-13 70 fatty acids 5-24

Source: 1 Edwards, C.A. et al. 1985; 2 Dynes, R. 2003; 3 Fisher, C 1988.

For Earthworms
Composition by dry weight, %
Tobacco stems Soybean meal Fish scraps Bone meal Generic plant min Generic plant max
Source: Aranda, E. et al. 1999

N 1.5 7.0 9.5 3.5 1.2 7.5

P 0.2 0.5 2.6 19.8 0.01 1.0

K 4.2 1.3 0.1 7.0

Ca 3.6 0.4 6.1 22.5 0.04 1.5

Mg 0.3 0.3 0.3 0.6 0.07 0.9

S 0.4 0.2 0.2 0.2 0.06 0.9

Conversion ratio (worm wt:waste wt) of up to 1:10 from a low of 1:50

For Earthworms (enhanced)
Double protein input (16 to 33.5 g/100g) • 15-20% increase in worm protein, double Ca, P, less Zn Mn • 50% increase in vermicompost N (2.4 to 3.3% N) Add tuna oil • no effect on total fat • change proportions, but not of polyunsaturated
Source: Dynes, R. 2003

Probable imbalances between nutrient elements
• Constant monitoring of elements required, or • Algorithms for input:output ratios based upon empirical data • Some examples of successful aquaponics, but not linked to vermiculture, small room for error • A research focus for CQU, over next couple of years

Further logistics of rooftop aquaponics and vermiculture
• • • • Inputs - Where, Which, When, What, How much? Biological, chemical, legislative, health. Spatial logistics In second and third year of the project

URBAN ORGANIC WASTES

VERMICULTURE
Output Outpu:

Worms Liquors
Input
Worm Castings

Organic H2O return waste return

AQUACULTURE
H2O H2O

System waste

Australian organic waste Reducing urban heatthe Positively impacting dependence on Australia production and wild and island effects via the obesity problemsubsequent imported sourcesby fish landfill produced thereby shade disposal, of healthy faces by interjectingthickprotein and products cultivated foods reducing methane production rooftop foliage and foodoil and on for direct sale which dwellers. and landfill growth. transpiration. to city accrue a significant ecological foot-print.

ROOFTOP HYDROPONICS

Output

Direct and Value Added Commercial Distribution of Fish and Vegetable Products

Conclusions
• Components function well alone, and hydroponics could adapt to flat roofs • Vermiculture requires homogeneous supply of organic matter, and space to act • Aquaculture will likely be a small component of the system, due to large requirement for space per kg fish, and slow growth rates (relative to demand)

Acknowledgements
• Mr Geoff Wilson for his enthusiasm for rooftop solutions • Industrial partners and RIRDC who have confidence in us to deliver commercial outcomes

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