Growth & Jobs | Farmers encouraged to consider aquaponics
FARMERS ARE being encouraged to consider climate-smart agricultural practices, including the use of aquaponics, for their farms.
This form of sustainable agriculture is akin to the use of greenhouses and drip irrigation for plants.
Research and outreach coordinator at the College of Agriculture, Science and Education (CASE), Garth Scott, explained that aquaponics is an integration between hydroponics and aquaculture.
“When the fish get the food, they produce waste. This waste is usually rich in nitrogen. This is going to be converted by bacteria and the plant will use this as food. This means we are getting two sources of food while we are only offering food to one,” he said.
Scott pointed out that there are several key factors in the aquaponics system for it to work successfully.
“There are three organisms that work in order to get the miracle of this system. The fish, the bacteria that are going to convert the waste of the fish, and the plant which is the vegetable that is going to produce food for us. It’s a system that you can adopt for urban areas or for commercial systems, and it works magic for all operators,” he said.
This soilless method of growing plants can range in size from small indoor units to large commercial units.
Scott said it is important that farmers become aware of climate-smart technologies and incorporate them, where possible, into their regular operations. He also said CASE is working to raise more awareness about climate-smart technologies to students as well as farmers.
“Based on modern-day technology, we are basically introducing smart agriculture practices. This is a way that we can conserve, especially on water. In an aquaponics system, we are using 90 per cent less water to grow crops than we would use in the regular outfield,” Scott noted.
“Also, we are harvesting crops much earlier. In addition, we increase the stocking density over the different areas. We are basically getting better yields in shorter times, and we are also using less water, so it’s more efficient,” he added.
For details on how to get started in aquaponics, persons can visit a Rural Agricultural Development Authority office or call (876) 927-1570.