The Intergration of Hydroponics and Aquaculture a Zimbabwean experience from AgriRocket Engineering Aquaponics
By Wenceslous Nyamupfukudza
It’s a game changer Waist-high aquaponic gardening which eliminates weeds, back strain, and small animal access to your garden. Aquaponics relies on the recycling of nutrient-rich water continuously. In aquaponics, there is no toxic run-off from either hydroponics or aquaculture.
Aquaponics uses 1/10th of the water of soil-based gardening and even less water than hydroponics or recirculating aquaculture. No harmful petrochemicals, pesticides or herbicides can be used. It’s a natural ecosystem.
Gardening chores are cut down dramatically or eliminated. The aquaponics grower is able to focus on the enjoyable tasks of feeding the fish and tending to and harvesting the plants.
Aquaponic systems can be put anywhere, use them outside, in a greenhouse, in your basement, or in your living room. By using grow-lighting, and space can become a productive garden.
Aquaponic systems are scalable. They can fit most sizes and budgets, from small countertop herb systems to backyard gardens, to full-scale farms, aquaponics can do it all.
And the best part – You get to harvest both plants and fish from your garden. Truly raise your entire meal in your backyard.
Instead of using dirt or toxic chemical solutions to grow plants, aquaponics uses highly nutritious fish effluent that contains all the required nutrients for optimum plant growth.
Instead of discharging water, aquaponics uses the plants, naturally occurring bacteria, and the media in which they grow in to clean and purify the water, after which it is returned to the fish tank. This water can be reused indefinitely and will only need to be topped-off when it is lost through transpiration from the plants and evaporation.
The primary methods of aquaponic growing
There are a few primary methods of aquaponic growing widely in use today:
Deep water culture (DWC): or raft based growing.
This uses a foam raft that is floating in a channel filled with fish effluent water that has been filtered to remove solid wastes. Plants are placed in holes in the raft and the roots dangle freely in the water.
This method is most appropriate for growing salad greens and other fast-growing, relatively low-nutrient plants. It is also most commonly used in larger commercial-scale systems.
Media based Aquaponics
Media growing involves growing plants in inert planting media such as expanded clay pellets or shale. The media provides both the biological filtration (conversion of ammonia to nitrates) and mechanical filtration (removal of solid wastes) in the same system.
Media-based systems are great for home and hobby scale systems so you can grow a wide variety of crops. In particular, large fruiting plants do really well in addition to leafy greens, herbs and other varieties.
Examples of media-based systems are the Harmony (pictured), the AquaUrban 60 gallon system, and the AquaBundance system. Nutrient Film Technique (NFT) NFT systems work by flowing nutrient-rich water through a narrow trough, such as a PVC pipe.
Plants are placed in holes drilled in this pipe, and the roots dangle freely in this stream of water.
This method of growing works very well for plants that need little support, such as strawberries (pictured) and other herbs.
NFT is also a great way to utilize unused space because they can be hung from ceilings above other growing areas.
Vertical Aquaponics: One of the greatest aspects of aquaponics is its ability to grow an incredible amount of food in a very small area. No method does this better than vertical aquaponics. Plants are stacked on top of each other in tower systems such as the AquaVertica.
Water flows in through the top of the tower, and flows through a wicking material that the plants roots absorb water and nutrients from. The water then falls into a trough or directly into the fish tank.
This form of agriculture makes the most of each square foot of space, and works very well with leafy greens, strawberries, and other crops that do not require support to grow.
Hydroponics and Aquaculture is one of the latest technologies in the Zimbabwean farming communities and behold it’s not only sustainable but profitable, AgriRocket is currently providing top notch Agricultural innovations and evergreen solutions to greenhouse technologies and can be contacted on +263 71 930 8557 | +263 77 130 8557
This article is published in partnership with Afrostain Farmtech
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