WHAT IS AQUAPONICS?
Aquaponics is the integration of hydroponics with aquaculture technologies.
• Hydroponics is the horticultural process of growing plants in mediums other than soil.
• Aquaculture is the culture of aquatic organisms (such as fish and crustaceans) for commercial purposes under controlled or partly controlled conditions.
ACS Student Comment: I am loving the course! I have learned some much and can't stop reading the material. My tutors give me great feedback. Chloe Blum, USA - Aquaponics course.
Each lesson culminates in an assignment which is submitted to the school, marked by the school's tutors and returned to you with any relevant suggestions, comments, and if necessary, extra reading.
Deciding whether to go into Aquaponics
Like everything else, aquaponic production has both advantages and disadvantages.
The scale of operation is not really such a big concern; people practice small scale aquaponics in their home garden, while others operate large scale commercial aquaponic farms.
Before making your decision, consider the advantages and disadvantages below:
Advantages of Aquaponics:
- Water conservation – water use is reduced significantly in recirculating aquaponics as it is being continually cycled through the system.
- No need for chemical fertilizers – the fish provide fertilizers for the plants to grow, while the plant roots provide additional filtration of the water for the fish to live in.
- Fish waste used in cycle – ammonia is removed from the system by filtration
- Less land space required – plants and fish are grown in close quarters.
- Can grow food all year round – this will vary depending on your local climate and the location of the aquaponics system (inside/outside)
- Faster growth of plants – a trial carried out in Canada noted that aquaponic growth rates can exceed hydroponic plant growth by up to four times for particular vegetables and herbs.
- Lower susceptibility to disease – as the aquaponics plants are not grown in soil, they are not prone to soil-borne bacterial disease. Fish in aquaponic systems are also less susceptible to pathogens that are common to aquaculture systems.
- Reduced ecological footprint for crop production.
Disadvantages of Aquaponics
- Cost –per unit area, it is more expensive than other forms of farming (but remember, being more intensive, what is spent on equipment is to a greater or lesser degree, saved on reduced property costs)
- Technologically Complex –requires more expertise to run properly than traditional farming. You may need to spend more training staff or on consultants and technical services (eg. water analysis, advice on plant and animal health problems. You are on the one hand taking greater control over the growth of plants and animals, but because you are taking that control away from nature, you are removing buffers that nature may normally have in place for dealing with problems. Potentially an aquaponics system is more productive than a natural system, but it is also susceptible to greater risks.
- If operated on a large scale it may lead to depletion of some natural resources that are required to run the system. Feed for fish or crayfish is made from less valuable animal products. Over use of natural resources can be a problem, and may end up leading to an increased cost for those feeds. The world may simply not be geared to rapid expansion of aquaculture. It may become necessary for larger scale aquaculture farmers to grow their own feed for fish or crayfish (eg. vermiculture)
- The options for configuring a system are very diverse. As with many new ideas, all sorts of people can be attracted to aquaponics, for all sorts of reasons, and despite their passion, they are not always balanced in their understanding of the industry. Because it is relatively new, sound tried and proven technologies do dot yet exist; and the level of research underpinning the industry is as yet nowhere near as sound as what might be found in other areas of farming.
Aquaponics is really "smart farming".
If you are up for it, you do need to prepare well, and become properly informed before risking a considerable investment in money and time.
This course is a great starting point.
- Support: communicate directly with staff, including experienced and well respected hydroponics experts. Answering you is our top priority
- Different: if your training is different, you stand out
- Resources: teaching hydroponics since the 1970's, we have put together a unique collection of people and intellectual property.
- Flexibility: more options for how, where, when and what you study
- Learning is top priority: what you learn changes you for life. Everything else is secondary
- Better value: Compare our cost per study hour.
- Reliability: Established since 1979, and being independent means we have avoided the stresses suffered by many other institutions
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