The agriculture sector is expanding at a mind blowing pace with many new technologies and sys-tems emerging enabling users with some crazy power in terms of getting some serious yield. Today I would like to pick my favorite among the new innovations happening which would be Aquaponics. Now I know many of you would have heard of the term but doesn’t know what it is properly. Well, let me help you. Aquaponics can be seen as a combination of aquaculture and hydroponics, still not clear? Ok, let me explain what these terms mean.
Aquaculture is the farming of aquatic species which can be fish, crustaceans, mollusks and so on. Aquaculture is the creation of a controlled system with either seawater or freshwater for the raising of aquatic species. This is mainly used for commercial purpose for breeding wild fish. There are many technologies inside the aquaculture for growing different species based on their needs.
Hydroponics can be simply defined as a system of growing the plants in water without soil. The wa-ter used in this system would be a mineral nutrient solution which will have all the needed nutrients for the plants. The system uses mediums like perlite or gravel for the roots to hold. Hydroponics is a widely-used system of growing plants which is very effective and can also give yield which is very healthy.
Now that you got an idea about the two systems which is combined to form Aquaponics. This is one integrated system which is a combination of Aquaculture and Hydroponics. This scientific application behind this system is that the waste of the fish grown in the system will act as the minerals for the plants and the plant’s filters the water making it suitable for the fish to grow in a healthy way. Other organisms that play an important role in this system would be bacteria which is responsible for converting ammonia in the fish waste to nitrates which boost the growth of plants. This is an ingenious method of cultivation which is based on automatic balance creation through the complementary actions of the plants and fishes. This enables the user with better control as the system works on the principle of automatic correction and equilibrium.
Some of the main advantages of Aquaponics
- This system does not allow the growth of weeds, back strains etc. This saves a lot of time and effort from the part of the farmer.
- The system revolves around the concept of waste recycling by matching the right parties which can feed off each other’s waste for their individual survival.
- The water quantity needed for Aquaponics only comes to around one tenth of the water needed for soil based systems.
- The use of fertilizers or pesticides can be reduced too and brought to drastically lower levels.
- The water is processed through plants and the microbes and can be reused indefinitely. The only need arises when the water levels decrease by evaporation and transpiration.
Types of Aquaponics
There two main types of Aquaponics, the difference being in the structure of the type. The main two classifications coming under the Aquaponics system would be:
- Raft based Aquaponics system: The system of raft-based Aquaponics uses a foam raft which floats on a channel filled with water which is effluent with the fish. The effluent wa-ter goes through a filtration system which removes the unnecessary solid wastes from the water. The plants are planted through the holes made in the raft and their roots dangle freely in the water below. This method is perfect for the growth of plants which are low in nutri-ents but common on diets like Salad greens and similar plants.
- Media based Aquaponics system: this system differs in the medium of growth where the plants are planted in an inert medium like gravel, expanded clay pellets, coir etc. This type of medium provides both kinds of biological as well as mechanical filtration which relieves the user from doing a lot of maintenance. This system is perfect for plants with fruits and for plants which are large. The biological waste here would be the ammonia-based waste and the mechanical waste would be the solid waste.
- Hybrid Aquaponics: The hybrid Aquaponics system would be the combination of the above said two methods. To be precise the system uses the media beds for filtering of the solid waste before the water enters the raft systems. This system provides the flexibility in terms of the flexibility and in inducing high productivity and for low maintenance.
Some of the issues that are commonly found with Aquaponics system would be
The tank which is used in the Aquaponics system is found to be filled with fish effluents over a period. The tank is often found to be high with ammonia content which can create some negative effects. This can be reduced by the discharging of the water at a rate of 10 to 20 percent of the total volume of the tank.
The water which is pumped into open streams can cause some pollution in terms of the high ammonia content in the water. The health of the fishes is effected with the pollutants in the water and should be often treated with medicines.
Aquaponics is a system which is very effective in term of yield and maintenance. Aquaponics combines the advantages of both aquaculture and hydroponics and creates an equilibrium where the two systems compliment each other. The system is very effective for users who wants to grow two types of yields in the form of fish and vegetation. Aquaponics do have some disadvantages in terms of the high ammonia content through continuous recycling of waste inside the system. Aquaponics very efficiently combines the systems in the right way to deliver some amazing results in terms of the yield and the maintenance. Aquaponics is easy to build and maintain thanks to the complimentary working nature of the two systems.