Innovators Embrace Aquaponics to Strengthen Local Food Systems, Address Food Security Issues and More
March 20, 2012 | Robert Puro
Imagine a sustainable closed loop farming system that is completely self-sufficient, economically viable, environmentally friendly and scalable to the point that it could help insure that the world’s future food needs are met. That is the realization that a bevy of sustainable agriculture entrepreneurs are working toward by experimenting with and embracing aquaponics.
Aquaponics combine hydroponics with aquaculture to create a more optimized and sustainable food production system by solving for problems that occur in the individual systems. With hydroponics, a grower often must rely upon commercial fertilizers in order to enrich the water, while in aquaculture the fish farmer must constantly monitor the toxicity levels of the water that results from fish effluents (waste).
In aquaponics, the fish effluent in the water provides an organic nutrient source, or natural fertilizer, for the plants being grown in the system. The plants in turn consume the natural fertilizer and in the process filter and purify the water, which is subsequently recirculated back to the fish.
The following compendium of articles demonstrates how startup entrepreneurs, farmers and innovators are using aquaponics to strengthen local food systems, address issues of food security, combat resource constraints and more.
On the Westside of Los Angeles, in the Mar Vista district, urban farming organization, EVO Farm, is utilizing aquaponics to create a replicable and sustainable farming model that will facilitate the creation of a network of local urban farms that grow and distribute produce that exceeds organic standards. Read more. . . .
At the heart of Bioponica™, an alternative approach to soilless farming, are two patent pending modules: the Incubator™, an organic liquid fertilizer and fish food producing module; and the Biogarden™, a module developed to make ideal use of space with vertical stacking of plant beds above fish tanks. These modules can be combined to form a greenhouse scale Food Plant™, or integrated growing operation that grows plants in deep water culture, ebb and flow, or nutrient film technique (NFT). Read more . . .
The company’s operations take place out of a 27,000-square-foot greenhouse in Baldwin, Wisc., which houses fish tanks and growing bays that contain herbs and vegetables. Tubes run back and forth between the tanks and growing bays, recirculating water, otherwise known as effluent. The result is about 8,000 pounds of fish and about 500,000 plants, which are sold in the local region, says Steve Meyer, co-owner and director of operations for Future Farm. But here comes the interesting part—this is done sustainably with the help of about 2,600 cows. Read more . . .
In Demand Worldwide, Portable Farms Seeks to Address Food Supply Issues and Profit with its Aquaponics Systems
Portable Farms™ Aquaponics Systems is predominantly a technology company that offers licensing and training for installations of their aquaponics systems. The systems are an easy way for consumers and commercial growers to raise organic vegetables and Tilapia year-round, without soil, using 90 to 95% less water than traditional in-ground gardens. Read more . . .
Aqua Vita Farms was founded by Mark Doherty and seeks to provide wholesale food distributors with safe, high value, aquaponically grown seafood and produce. Retrofitting and construction on the company’s indoor farming facility, a 13,000 square foot building in Sherrill, N.Y. that was formerly a polishing facility for Oneida Silverware, kicked off in May of this year. The company, which currently raises bluegill fish, and grows lettuce, leafy greens and herbs in its custom-made aquaponic systems, had it first harvest shortly thereafter in August. Read more . . .
In 2008, Josh Fraundor and Jim Godsil co-founded Sweet Water Organics, a for-profit organic fish and vegetable farm built inside a former crane manufacturing building. Located in the Bay View area of Milwaukee, this urban agriculture business uses a sustainable aquaponics system to raise approximately 35,000 Perch and 20,000 Tilapia, and produce a variety of leafy greens. Read more . . .
In terms of aquaponic system yields, Nelson says “typically we can grow 10 times more in the same given space” when compared to conventional growing methods. Purchasers of the systems tend to plant profitable leafy greens and lean toward farming tilapia. Tilapia is easy to raise and the fifth most popular fish in the U.S. in terms of per capita consumption. Read more . . .