The Future of Sustainable Agriculture
As humans' footprint grows, scientists look for more efficient alternatives to produce food. While traditional agriculture continues to supply food to customers, its distribution is restricted by terrain and weather. In areas that suffer from droughts, like California, water is limited and must be used to its most efficient effect. Traditional strategies for farming require excessive loads of this precious liquid, rendering them useless, and even damaging, in limited water situations.
Aquaponic systems are eco-friendly, water-efficient, and organic; they can grow both fish and crops. The systems only require the essentials like water, a grow medium, seeds, and fish. With these simple materials, aquaponic systems are the best fit for people whose environment is unsuitable for traditional farming. Unlike hydroponics, aquaponics does not generate salty waste water. Unlike conventional farming, aquaponics requires a tenth of the energy and a fraction of the water to grow crops. For nutrients, the system needs only food pellets for the fish, usually provided by an automated process. As the world loses large amounts of usable water to traditional farming, scientists and engineers alike are looking for sustainable agricultural solutions. As a result of the decline of our environment, it is clear that aquaponics will be an essential component in the future of agriculture.
How It Works
Aquaponics is simple and easy to understand. In essence, bacteria and worms convert fish waste into usable plant nutrients, including the conversion of harmful ammonia to nitrate. The plants feed on the bacterias' "excretion," and water is recycled back into the fish tank. Here is a more in-depth look at how it works:
- Fish feed on food pellets and create waste.
- Water, with waste, is continuously cycled to the grow bed.
- Nitrosomonas bacteria break down ammonium in the water and release nitrite.
- Nitrospira and Nitrobacter bacteria convert nitrite into nitrate.
- Plants absorb water, the useful nitrate ions, and other inorganic nutrient ions from the fish waste decomposition.
- Water is cycled back into the fish tank, free of ammonium.
- Rinse and repeat!
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