Aquaculture and Hydroponics are two alternative methods to commercial farming. Individually, both methods have been criticized for generation of unnecessary waste. Hydroponics requires often expensive nutrients and aquaculture has to dispose of large amounts of nutrient-rich water created by fish waste to keep the fish alive and well. Combining these two system actually eliminates the waste and the requirement for extra nutrients. Nutrient-rich “waste”-water from the aquaculture part of the system is piped into the hydroponic part. When the nutrients is absorbed by the plants, the excess water is clean enough to be piped by into the fish tank. Such a system can be referred to as a “closed system.” This innovation is extremely fascinating to me. Since the amount matter on the planet is finite, we can not afford to waste anything. Such systems are excellent for use in urban environments where land and resources needed for traditional farming methods are not available. The costs for upkeep is minimal as well, making aquaponics systems a viable option for local food production in low income neighborhoods that may not have access to fresh food.
The Aquaponics Innovation Center in Monticello, WI just opened this past April and is the first of it’s kind. The center lends its resources to the University of Wisconsin’s aquaponics program, allowing the facility to become an incubator for sustainable aquaculture research and education. It would be wonderful to see such close circuit production to be executed on a larger scale.
Sustainable farming methods that can be implemented in urban environments such as hydroponics have potential to improve urban public health conditions physically as well as mentally/socially. The follow excerpt from brown and Jackson’s article titled The Public Health Implications of Urban Agriculture explains this.