So just what is Aquaponics.. a.k.a. Aquaponic farming? It is a kind of food production process which brings together traditional aquaculture (which is a method of raising fish) with hydroponics(which refers to growing plants in water) techniques in one integrated system. In aquaponics, the animals and plants have a symbiotic relationship where waste materials from aquatic animals are being used by plants as food, and in return, the plants purify the water for them. This “marriage” of aquaculture and hydroponics has moved from the realm of experimental gardening method to commercial. Learning more about this new production system will give you an idea whether or not this is right for your backyard garden.
How Aquaponics Began
Even long before the terminology “aquaponics” was invented in the 1970s, the Aztec Indians from 1, 000 A.D. had already practiced this system to some extent by raising plants on their rafts on the lake surface. In modern times, aquaponic gardening originally emerged from the aquaculture industry when the fish farmers explored different means to raise fish while reducing their dependence on land and other resources.
Benefits of Aquaponic Farming at Home
- Nutritional and Environmental Benefits. Healthy eating is probably one of the major reasons why people resort to raising their own produce using aquaponics. We all know that generic foods purchased in stores contain lots of different chemicals that are hazardous to our health. Aquaponic farming is one of the most effective (if not the best) to grow your own food; thus, help you avoid those toxic additives. In addition, aquaponics help conserve water as it uses 90% less of it as compared to traditional farming. This is due to the fact that water and nutrients become recycled in a closed-loop manner. Also, this production process facilitates the protection of our rivers and lakes since no harmful fertilizers end up running off into the water shed. Lastly, aquaponics is sustainable which is absolutely a great relief is since it will give us the peace of mind knowing that we can still maintain a certain level of food production without hindering the balance of our ecosystem and/or depleting our natural resources.
- No watering required and the plants tend to grow faster. Since aquaponics basically re-circulate water, it’s a no-brainer that watering your plants is not necessary anymore. This is definitely a huge advantage given that lots of crops often fail due to poor watering techniques. Aside from that, in aquaponics, plants end up having access to nutrients they need 24 hours a day which allows them grow at a faster rate. As a matter of fact, veggies like lettuce which normally takes about two months to mature when traditionally planted in soil, have been proven to mature in only just one month when grown using the system involved in aquaponics.
- Weed and soil pest control are no longer necessary. Since there is no soil involved, aquaponics does not favor weed growth. It also doesn’t harbor soil pests that destroy the plants.
- It saves space and even offers a source of income. Aquaponic farming gives us the opportunity to place plants in such a way that they are closer to each other than normal in effect saves a lot of space. This becomes possible since plant roots are always submerged in water which is rich in nutrients; hence, there is no overcrowding. Also, when you use this gardening method at home, you are bound to greatly increase your food production. Of course because you can plant more vegetables using only little space.