What is Aquaponics?
Aquaponics combines hydroponic techniques of farming with aquaculture. Water is cycled between fish tanks and vegetable growing areas. Fish waste acts as a natural fertilizer for the crops. Plants and beneficial bacteria scrub ammonia and other nitrogenous compounds from the water, making it safe for the fish. Aquaponics is a water-wise growing method. It generally requires 90% less water than conventional vegetable gardens, and 97% less water than standard aquaculture methods.
There are three types of aquaponics systems commonly used today:
Media bed Flood and Drain Systems, NFT or Nutrient Film Technique, and DWRT or Deep Water Raft Technique
To read more in depth about these systems click hereIntro To Aquaponics Continued
Long before the term “aquaponics” was coined, the Aztec Indians raised plants on rafts on the surface of a lake in approximately 1,000 AD. Before the Aztec people had built a great empire in Central America, they were a nomadic tribe in what is today central Mexico. They settled near the marshy shores of Lake Tenochtitlan. Since this fresh water lake was surrounded by marshes and rising hills.
The Aztecs, much like today’s urban farmers were faced with the problem of trying to find a place to grow food. They solved this problem with ingenious use of the resources available to them using what many today would consider permaculture principles.
The Aztecs constructed large rafts out of reeds and rushes they found near the lake. They floated these rafts in the water and covered them with soil which they dredged up from the bottom of the shallow lake. They then planted their vegetable crops on these floating islands that they called chinampas. When the plants matured, their roots grew through the soil and dangled in the water. Some remnants of the chinampas can still be found today in Central Mexico.
This ancient method of growing food is very similar in principle to the DWRT (Deep Water Raft Technique) we use in present day Aquaponics.
Aquaponics is both versatile and adaptable. Systems can be built on just about any scale and designed to fit in almost any space and when combined with a controlled environment in the form of a Solar Greenhouse provide one of the most effective methods of producing significant quantities of quality organic food in a limited space. The controlled environment enables food production to continue all year in areas with a normally limited growing season.
Urban Farmers today are using age old principles combined with modern materials to transform underutilized space such as rooftops and balconies in to food production areas.