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Hooked on Aquaponics

This fish tank is located in Honolulu, HI at the President William McKinley High School, and illustrates the cleanliness of water in an aquaponics/aquaculture system.  For aquaponics, when the system is properly balanced, the water can be maintained at maximum clarity. Photo courtesy of the Hawaii Department of Agriculture.

This fish tank is located in Honolulu, HI at the President William McKinley High School, and illustrates the cleanliness of water in an aquaponics/aquaculture system. For aquaponics, when the system is properly balanced, the water can be maintained at maximum clarity. Photo courtesy of the Hawaii Department of Agriculture.

If you’re wondering what aquaponics is, you’re not alone.  Tracing its roots back to the Aztecs and rice cultivation in South China, aquaponics is a combination of aquaculture and hydroponics – growing fish and plants together in a symbiotic system.  Basically, the plants keep the water clean for the fish to grow, and the fish fertilize the plants. Both help the other to survive and thrive.

A wide variety of foods—lettuce, beans, broccoli, cucumbers, peas, herbs, strawberries, melons, and tomatoes, for example—all flourish through aquaponics farming.

The Hawaii Department of Agriculture, in cooperation with the Aquaculture Program of the University of Hawaii, is surveying grocery retailers and restaurants in Hawaii to explore the viability of aquaponic farming in the market place.  They are looking at several factors, such as market acceptance, demand level, preferred product form, packaging and price points for produce and fish produced by aquaponics farms.  Their research will help farmers better understand the benefits and viability of aquaponics as a method for raising fish and specialty crops simultaneously.

This project is the first aquaponics project ever awarded a grant through USDA’s Federal-State Marketing Improvement Program (FSMIP).  The grants are designed to support a wide range of projects, fostering work between the States, academia, farmers, and many other stakeholders.

Aquaponics farming is one example of the research-based, innovative projects USDA supports, with the goal of improving the long-term efficiency and sustainability of American agriculture.

Administered by USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS), FSMIP provides matching funds on a competitive basis to state agencies and universities to assist in exploring new market opportunities for U.S. food and agricultural products.   To find out more about other FSMIP projects, visit www.ams.usda.gov/FSMIP.

This growbed is located in Apopka, FL, at the Pentair Aquatic Ecosystems Demonstration Farm, and is a great example of the diversity of plants that can thrive in close proximity to each other.  The floating rafts are visible which hold the root structures of the plants.  Many vegetables, herbs, fruits, and flowers flourish in an aquaponics environment. Photo courtesy of the Hawaii Department of Agriculture.

This growbed is located in Apopka, FL, at the Pentair Aquatic Ecosystems Demonstration Farm, and is a great example of the diversity of plants that can thrive in close proximity to each other. The floating rafts are visible which hold the root structures of the plants. Many vegetables, herbs, fruits, and flowers flourish in an aquaponics environment. Photo courtesy of the Hawaii Department of Agriculture.

6 Responses to “Hooked on Aquaponics”

  1. Sarah says:

    Aquaponics is an effective method to overcome the lack of fertile land. I’m glad to see that Hawaii is investigating the use of aquaponics in the marketplace. Though the system is relatively unheard of, it is quite innovative. Depending on how aquaponics in Hawaii goes, the program might be able to expand and revolutionize the fish and vegetable farming industry. Aquaponics not only could be effective in the United States, but it could also assist countries with barren land that does not easily support farming.

    In general, I am very pleased that the USDA Agricultural Marketing Service is supporting innovative programs in food and agriculture products. I am very concerned about what food I consume, and sometimes I worry about how my food is grown. New techniques that are new yet natural should be investigated, and I fully support what the USDA is doing.

  2. Steven says:

    This sure is great news. Aquaponics is definitely the way forward to a greener earth. Whether it be commercial or a home set-up, aquaponics should be encouraged in a global scale.

    That’s one of the main reasons why I have created, http://www.aquaponicssystemsolutions.com/, to spread the awareness aquaponics world wide, especially Asia-Pacific reagon where aquaponics is basically unknown of.

    Thank you for sharing this blog.

    Steven

  3. David says:

    Great to see information about aquaponics on the USDA website!

    It is very exciting to be a part of the aquaponics growth movement and teaching people how to build their own systems via our DIY video or how to setup and manage one of our complete kits!

    One of our goals is to help schools use aquaponics in the classroom as a teaching tool! As such we offer schools a discount at http://shop.endlessfoodsystems.com/!

    Are any of these grants are available for schools? If so, please contact me with information so we can offer that to them as well. Thanks!

    David Barbee
    Endless Food Systems
    http://www.endlessfoodsystems.com/

  4. Martin McCurdy says:

    Sand Creek Farm in Cameron, Texas is hosting the Texas Commercial Aquaponics and Solar Greenhouse Training from January 13-17, 2014.

    Sand Creek Farm has three commercial aquaponics systems along with a raw milk dairy, farmstead cheese house and a vegetable CSA that provide food to over 225 families in central Texas.

    For more information about Sand Creek Farm or to enroll in the training, visit http://www.sandcreekfarm.net/aquaponics or call Ben Godfrey at 979-220-7908.

  5. Lisa says:

    As a passionate gardner, Ive been researching & am very interested in setting up a hydro or aquaponics system. If anyone wants me to trial or help fund me out in eastern PA where much ground is used for fodder or horses. Pls let me know. Also any info anyone has would be appreciated. Very exciting to see this progress.

  6. Shawn Dietzer says:

    It’s great to see the government starting to support Aquaponics. It’s hard not to see the benefits of Aquaponics.

    I live in the heart of the corn belt and it’s a a great place to introduce Aquaponics to the masses.

    This is why I started http://www.diyaquaponics.org was to teach folks about how wonderful this farming technology really is!

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