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Aquaponics, as a form of modern agriculture, combines raising fish in recirculating tanks and growing plants in soilless media. In recent years, this method has grown in popularity, mainly because of its efficiency and sustainability. But besides growing crops and fish in your backyard, there are different uses for aquaponics.
Harvesting fresh crops all year round for personal consumption may be one of the most rewarding things you can do with aquaponics. However, other uses for aquaponics, which include being used as an educational tool or as a source of food to support food banks, make this farming technique even more worthwhile.
In this article, we will discuss the five uses for aquaponics that aren’t often considered.
Why Choose Aquaponics
Setting up your backyard aquaponics system allows you to have a supply of fresh crops, perfect for your farm-to-table practice. The system has the ability to grow different plant types while consuming only a few resources. This important feature makes aquaponics attractive to many home growers.
But more than backyard gardening, aquaponics holds promise as the future of eco-farming. Because of the fact that aquaponics uses water and cycles nutrients efficiently, it can be the ideal growing method for food production. NASA also has its eyes on the system as a potential method to be taken advantage of for long-term space travel.
While the concept of aquaponics has been around for centuries, there is room for more improvement and developments that can take the system in innovative directions. This is true, primarily since the system supports a variety of applications.
5 Uses for Aquaponics
Besides being an alternative farming method perfect for your backyard or in a commercial venture, aquaponics has educational applications. It can also be the ideal small business when you retire. Here, we list five uses for aquaponics that most people may not have considered, namely:
- Aquaponics As a Source for Organic Food
- Aquaponics as an Educational Tool
- Small Business For Retirement
- Aquaponics Courses
- Supply Food Banks
1) Aquaponics As a Source of Organic Food
Aquaponics has been surrounded by much debate on whether or not crops grown using this method can be considered organic. While it doesn’t use soil, aquaponics fits the criteria of organic farming. It doesn’t use chemical fertilizers or pesticides, eliminating the concern of harmful chemicals leaching into freshwater sources. It is environment-friendly since it doesn’t require acres of land to start or use as much water as traditional farming methods would.
The debate may linger, but the USDA has already classified aquaponics as an organic farming method. Farms that grow aquaponic crops can now bear the organic certification.
2) Aquaponics as an Educational Tool
Aquaponics can also be an ideal tool to educate students about sustainable farming and natural sciences in general. A model system showing how aquaponics works can enrich learning in the field of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics. In addition, aquaponics can also be taught from a business and economic perspective.
In this review on how aquaponics can be a valuable tool for children’s learning, experts conclude that the system presents the natural processes in a more tangible way. By creating a model aquaponics system in the classroom, children can have a hands-on experience with nature to help them have a better understanding of the environment.
3) Small Business For Retirement
Commercial aquaponics is also gaining traction these days as entrepreneurs realize how a controlled environment is able to produce fresh and great quality crops. If you are nearing retirement or you’re just looking for a small, profitable family business, then aquaponics can be a great idea.
As long as you choose the right pairing of plants and fish (e.g., warm, freshwater fish generally suit leafy crops best), then you can have smooth aquaponics farming experience. The attractive organic crops you grow can be sold to your neighbors or at the local farmer’s market.
4) Aquaponics Courses
Aquaponics is not only profitable because of the crops you can harvest and sell. There are other ways to make money from aquaponics – one of which is by selling aquaponics-related courses. If you already established an aquaponics farm in your backyard, you can make a business out of your knowledge and experience.
You can create courses that teach clients how to start an aquaponics farm, share resources, as well as sell starter kits that should help those who are interested in the idea—learning the basics of aquaponics and how to make the system work can support individuals and entrepreneurs so they’ll have food security. Propagating the concept of aquaponics as a sustainable farming technique can help people from around the world grow their very own fresh crops.
5) Supply Food Banks
Getting year-round fresh produce won’t always be easy, especially for people who want to extend their help to the community through food banks. Aquaponics, which is proven to be sustainable, can be the solution to food bank shortages.
One example is the food bank in Toronto, Canada, which uses aquaponics to harvest a fresh supply of produce to augment the food they get from donors. According to the food banks’ executive director, the aquaponics farm may be small, but it is able to produce over 10,000 servings of leafy vegetables and 645 servings of fish in one year. While it may not be much, but it can definitely help a long way in filling food bank shortages.
The uses for aquaponics is not just limited to backyard farming and harvesting of crops and/or fish for personal consumption. It can be used as an educational tool to teach children about Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math and natural processes in general.
Aquaponics can also be used as a profitable small business for beginners or retirees or taught in courses and workshops for profit. And to help out the community, aquaponics can be the solution to supply food banks, especially those that are experiencing shortages.