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Aquaponics and Hydroponics

What is Aquaponics

The word aquaponics comes from aquaculture and hydroponics. Aquaponics is the joint and symbiotic cultivation of aquatic animals and plants. The water where the aquatic animals are kept is recirculated through pipes to the roots of the crop plants. Plants absorb fish waste, making it an excellent fertilizer. The water eventually returns to the aquatic animal rearing tank without the need for filters.

Background of modern aquaponics

We can understand that the pioneers in aquaponics were John and Nancy Todd, along with William McLarney. These three researchers founded the New Alchemy center located in the United States in 1969. With them, modern organic agriculture and the concept of sustainable aquaculture were developed.

As early as 1978, Lewis’s work laid the foundations for modern aquaponics. In them, it was found that the organic by-products discarded by the fish were of great value for the plants that were watered with that water. At this point, the hydrotropic grouping began.

What is Hydroponics?

Hydroponics is the cultivation of plants without soil. It is usually done on an inert substrate such as washed sand or coconut fiber. The key is that the irrigation water contains all the nutrients that the plant needs so it does not need soil to capture them. The most appropriate vegetables for hydroponics are small non-woody plants, such as lettuce, spinach, chard, broccoli, tomatoes, and so on. Fruits such as strawberries, blueberries, melon, or watermelon are also grown. This technology is excellent for saving water and where soils are poor.

Later in the eighties, Mark McMurtry and Doug Sanders, researchers at the University of North Carolina, created aquaponic systems as we know them using sand beds as a substance for plants.

Tom and Paula Speraneo made a modification of the system created by Mark McMurtry, separating the fish zone and the plant zone. They used tilapia as an aquatic organism in a small greenhouse. On the other hand, the Speraneo method, which is based on flooding and drainage, originated. This method was very popular in Australia and was sponsored by Joel Malcolm and Murray Hallan.

On the other hand, Dr. James Rakocy, based on the results obtained in North Carolina, created an aquaponics system called the “UVI system” where the plants are located in a floating substrate on the tank of aquatic organisms (“deepwater culture”). Although these systems are still used today, on a commercial scale the most widely used is the “root or floating bed” systems (raft system), and also those of “nutrient film” (NFT: Nutrient Film Technique).

In 1997, two researchers Rebecca L. Nelson and John S. Pade were the creators of a scientific journal called “Aquaponics Journal”, in which all the advances and studies on aquaponics are published. In 2008, these same authors published what is considered the first book on aquaponics (Aquaponic Food Production).

Finally, in 2010, the “Aquaponic Gardening Community” was founded, which is the largest ACUAPONIA event in the world.

 

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