Although, the term Aquaponics was defined in 1960s, it’s still practiced on a limited scale these days. But as the communities are growing aware of environmental problems ahead, the world is planning to encourage it on a commercial scale. You may have heard the terms hydroculture or aquaculture recently, it’s time to dive deeper into the concepts and identify its pros and cons. The Advantages and Disadvantages of Aquaponics bring out the best and the worst this system may affect the farming system.
The modern aquaponics system utilizes professional farming skills and technology, emphasizing reducing the need for dependence on the land, water, and other natural resources. This farming method is a step ahead of hydroponics that limits growing plants in water.
Aquaponics is making use of what’s available, which makes it a perfect sustainable alternative to conventional farming. The farming method is gaining a foothold in urban areas with inadequate or no land resources to grow food. With populations lacking ground space inch by inch, aquaponics, perhaps, is the correct answer to meet the needs of future generations.
The research on Aquaponics began in the 1970s and has gained momentum over the last few decades. Growing vegetables and fish simultaneously is not only cost-efficient but also eco-friendly in the best way possible. However, some other factors contribute to many advantages of Aquaponics as countries invest more in technology.
The fish excreta acts as a natural fertilizer for plants, which in turn purifies the water for fishes, and the cycle continues. This farming method doesn’t depend on soil or manure used to ramp up the production. This means you don’t have to worry about additional nutrients to supply to plants. As a result, aquaponic farming is more effective than organic farming.
The use of natural and chemical-based fertilizers in the farming industry contributes to nitrogen and phosphorus pollution in the US. Some fertilizers even contain measurable levels of heavy metals such as Lead, Arsenic, and Cadmium. Apart from that, US farmers spend billions of dollars annually on fertilizers alone.
The fertilizers used in agricultural produce is not only hazardous for the environment but also costly for farmers. However, in aquaculture, the reduced use of fertilizers safeguards the environment and promotes less use of herbicides and pesticides. The aquaponic plants are naturally fertilized by the fish feces, a rich provider of nutrients for the plants.
The traditional agricultural practices put more pressure on water resources. Therefore, water shortage is believed to be the most significant contributor to limiting food production in the coming years.
On the contrary, aquaponic systems do not typically discharge or exchange water under regular operation. The system recirculates and reuses water very effectively. The countries with fewer water supplies would be the ones to get more advantages of aquaponics system by reducing dependency on water resources.
One of the main benefits of Aquaponics is that the system allows effective use of nutrients sources. The feed supplied to fishes in the system acts as organic or bacterial biomass that further supplies nutrients to the plants.
The leftover organic waste is easy to manage and can also be used for traditional horticultural crops. In addition, plants in an aquaponic system grow faster than usual as there is no waste of nutrients compared to conventional farming due to the absence of weeds.
This farming method doesn’t depend on rain, fertilizers, water resources, and maintenance such as protection from wild animals. Moreover, since everything is grown in a closed environment, the overall cost incurred on aquaculture is considerably lower than the expenses spent on conventional farming methods. Also, it’s easily affordable as you don’t have to buy acres of land to grow and harvest the food.
Do you know about Hydroponics
Despite being a highly effective farming method, there are many disadvantages of Aquaponics system if seen from a technical perspective. Also, there are a limited number of plants that can be grown in the mechanism. Other problems with aquaponics are described below.
Even though the system is adequate for every plant species, you can’t grow root plants in the aquaponics system. Provided that certain plants require higher water levels and nutrients, the system is considered the best for green leafy plants such as tuberous plants and root vegetables. The system seems ineffective in growing large crops due to the heavy requirement of resources and natural environment.
Besides fish food, the aquaponics system consists of mechanical and electrical components such as a rearing tank, settling basin, biofilter, pump, and beds. The system is set up in a closed space which has to be maintained 24/7. The installation of a small-scale system in your backyard would cost around $2000 apart from the labour charges.
Fish tanks must be supplied with regulated temperatures all the time. Otherwise, the fish would die due to cold or extreme heat. The water pumps must circulate water 24/7, backed up by a constant electricity supply. If you reside in an area where electricity is not available 27/4, you may have to face many disadvantages of aquaponics system. Even though the electric supply isn’t much of an issue, get ready to bear extra costs for your monthly electricity bills.
The setting up of an aquaponics system requires sound technical knowledge. If you are doing it on your own, you must be well aware of the components. The system relies on electrical as well biological concepts. Ensure you have a professional to deal with maintenance work and keep the system in full flow.
A minor flaw in the system could lead to system malfunction or fatalities for fishes and plants. Keep in mind that the aquaponics system is complex that requires a lot of knowledge and experience for construction and maintenance.
The complexity of the aquaponics system is one of the main reasons people often give up on the idea of aquaculture. You need to take care of plants and fishes at the same time. If the fish don’t have ample conditions, they will die, and plants are next to take the hit.
External conditions such as weather and light may also come into play to affect the system adversely. You must also monitor the water levels and its quality to ensure fishes and plants receive proper nutrition in the closed system. If you fail to tend to minor system requirements, the entire mechanism could fail.
Conclusion on Pros and Cons of Aquaponics System
People who have adapted to these planting methods before have opined differently from those currently practicing aquaculture. Researchers are delving more into hydroculture systems, and the aquaponics system is one of the catchphrases for urban farmers.
The system is highly effective in regions affected by drought and low water supply. Understanding the Pros and Cons of the Aquaponics System, it’s easy to predict the future of this farming technique. If countries are well-equipped and ready to adapt to this method, they can shortcomings are easily manageable.
There are several advantages to aquaponics, but it also has some drawbacks. For example, setting up an aquaponics system might be costly, and the infrastructure requirements may prevent some mid-size producers from investing in commercial systems.
Food produced in an aquaponic garden is more nutritious, fresher, and genuinely organic than food from your garden. Pesticides and weed killers are not used on plants or fish.
Aquaponics allows farmers to use far less water than conventional farming would require, so instead of watering your soil and losing the majority of your water through run-off or evaporating under the sun, the water is recycled repeatedly throughout the system.
Aquaponics is the more advanced farming method that takes today's needs into account and provides. This technique is healthier for the environment and may produce both crops and meat simultaneously.
Labor and transportation will add to the materials cost for a total estimate. The initial expense of setting up an Aquaponic system might be high, but it ends up paying for itself over time. The overall system cost would be determined by how big the system is.