The human population is constantly increasing, making food, land, and other resources extremely valuable and scarce in some areas. The ability for people to have access to healthy food rather than easily obtainable unhealthy alternatives has become a growing issue in highly dense areas like cities. Luckily, where there is a problem there are usually solutions created to counter. There are many new types of farming systems being created every day with some being modified systems that were previously used in human history. Aquaponics is a system that has been gaining more support by the day but surprisingly this system has been around for decades.
What is aquaponics?
In the combination of aquaculture and hydroponics, aquaponics is a method of growing plants alongside fishes in a closed system. This system can be considered two different types of systems that are combined to benefit each other. Water from the fish tanks is pumped to the soilless plants. The waist of the fish is absorbed by the plant for growth and the water is then circulated back to the fish. Thanks to this system no fertilizers, pesticides, or herbicides will be needed, and the water will continually be recycled with little to no water being lost compared to soil farms. The result is a farm that can produce locally grown fish and plants that are healthy, with no added pesticides or herbicides, and a minimal amount of carbon footprint for production or transportation. With the greatest benefit being the ability to implement almost anywhere. Space is becoming more and more valuable by the day with the ever-increasing human population. The possibilities are endless since this system can be designed for rooftops, basements, warehouses, backyards, etc.
There are various examples throughout our history of similar systems to aquaponics. In Asia, it is normal to find fish in the paddy rice fields. Chinese record showing that this practice dates as far back as 2,000 years. The reason that this system is used in this setting is to reduce the number of pests and weeds in the paddy rice fields.
Similarly, the Aztecs had a system where they would build chinampas for crop growing. Chinampas was a technique used in Mesoamerican agriculture that used island-like platforms for crop growing on the shallow lake beds in the Valley of Mexico. These ancient systems would later be modified for more efficiency and productivity by researchers.
Sustainability is the key to a healthier future for not only humans but the plant and its ecosystems. Aquaponics fit perfectly as a sustainable form of farming without using fertilizers, pesticides, or herbicides. These systems are extremely useful for places that have space limitations. There are many designs for these systems that can be modified to fit these areas. Ultimately, providing a year-round farming system that can be implemented in underdeveloped communities with space limitations, and water restrictions. There is even the option to create a zero-fossil fuel system by implanting solar panels to create energy for the pumps.
“Aquaponics: the Potential to Produce Sustainable Food Anywhere.” The Guardian, Guardian News and Media, 11 Apr. 2014, http://www.theguardian.com/sustainable-business/aquaponics-sustainable-food-production-plants-fish.
Bitto, Robert. “Chinampas, Floating Gardens of Ancient Mexico.” Mexico Unexplained, 11 May 2020, mexicounexplained.com/chinampas-floating-gardens-of-ancient-mexico/.
“Chinampa.” Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation, 4 Dec. 2020, en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chinampa.
“Fish and Rice Flourish Together in Paddies.” SciDev.Net, http://www.scidev.net/global/news/fish-and-rice-flourish-together-in-paddies/.
Oon, Samanta. “Aquaponics: Sustainable Urban Farming.” FoodUnfolded, 6 June 2019, http://www.foodunfolded.com/article/aquaponics-sustainable-urban-farming.
“Paddy Field.” Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation, 2 Dec. 2020, en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paddy_field.