Aquaponics is a new technological system that combines fish farming with vegetable production. The fish provide fertiliser to the plants and the plants clean the water for the fish. No artificial fertilisers or other agricultural chemicals are used. The system saves up to 95 % water compared to other cultivation methods.
Production is year-round and completely independent of the weather and climate. The produce is very healthy, nutritionally rich and the yields are incomparable with conventional agriculture.
It is a closed, controlled cycle with artificial lighting, air circulation and water circuit with filtration.
The plants primarily purify the water so that it can be returned to the fish. In the water, the plants create a dense network of micro-roots, which very effectively absorb all the substances needed for healthy plant growth. At the same time, they remove nitrogen compounds from the water that would bother the fish. Plant growth is up to 30 % faster than in soil due to the abundance of nutrients and the precisely set conditions.
In the aquaponic cycle, the fish faeces provide nutrition for the plants. Animals have always provided fertiliser for plants, and plants have always served as fodder for animals. Today, agricultural practices do not reflect this principle anymore, which is regrettable and unwise. The difference from chemical fertilisers is mainly in the amount of microelements. While chemical fertilisers are based primarily on combined industrial fertilisers, the nutrient solution in aquaponics contains more than 50 elements and organic compounds. The nutrient solution therefore supplies the plants with a rich range of nutrients, which is reflected in their vitality and nutritional value.
Bacteria ensure the formation of a nutrient solution for the plants. The first bacterial decomposition process occurs in the intestines of the fish. This is followed by a second, two-stage bacterial decomposition process that takes place in the trap filters before it becomes fertiliser for the plants. This solution is formed as naturally as it would be in natural ecosystems and is a universal solution, which means that plants cannot be over-fertilised.
What fruits, vegetables and fish can we produce with aquaponics?
In Future Farming, we can set the conditions for the fish and plants to the minutest detail. From water and air temperature to very precise pH or the level of oxygen dissolved in water. This enables us to farm almost any freshwater fish and animals and combine it appropriately with the cultivation of fruits and vegetables. We can also grow very exotic vegetables, which otherwise have to be imported from the other side of the world.
Why is lighting important in aquaponics?
Light supplies plants with energy. Our farms use sunlight, which is of course the best for plants. However, in our latitudes, we must also use artificial lighting, especially in winter. Thanks to advances in LED lighting technology and the latest research on photosynthesis and chlorophyll, we are now able to design lighting systems according to the needs of every plant. In this way, electricity consumption can be optimised and the plants get exactly what they need. Many years of research and testing stand behind these advances.
Recent studies by Dutch cultivation light manufacturers demonstrated that even under artificial lighting, a plant of the same quality can be grown as in sunlight. In this area we therefore rely on the latest technology.
Why are bacteria used in aquaponics?
Bacteria play a key role in the nutrient cycle. Just like a person has up to 10 kg of bacteria in their intestines to be able to effectively take nutrients from food, the aquaponic system needs bacteria to convert the waste products of the fish into nutrients for the plants. The first colony of bacteria lives in the intestines of the fish, where they process food. The second colony lives in the biological filters of the system. Both colonies are monitored and replenished if necessary. The key to making the process work effectively is to use special feed to which the bacteria are accustomed. If bacterial colonies are disrupted, for example by the use of chemicals or antibiotics, a fermentation or putrefaction process will start to prevail, thereby causing the entire aquaponic system to stop working. The use of such substances in aquaponics is therefore unacceptable. Colonies create a group of dozens of bacterial species that together do exactly what is needed. In this area, we have invested enormous resources into research on suitable bacterial species, which forms the core of our know-how. The inappropriate handling of feed and bacteria are the most common reasons why aquaponic systems do not work or collapse.
Is aquaponics better in an open or closed space?
Each application has its advantages and disadvantages. In an enclosed space, higher yields and year-round operation can be achieved. The downside is higher energy consumption.
For outdoor applications, energy consumption is minimal, but operation seasonal. Other differences lie in the demands placed on environmental hygiene and compliance with quality standards. Outdoor applications can never meet the quality standards set by AQP Food for foods of the highest quality.