For my second blog, I wanted to write about a subject that has become a passion of mine: Aquaponics. I want to mention that I am not an expert and further research needs to be done to answer a lot of these questions. It is until recently that people have researched and studied aquaponics systems for many different reasons. The main driving force for people to engage in research about aquaponics is because it provides an alternative to grow food in a sustainable, and efficient manner. These systems are closed loop systems that can provide an answer to how we are going to feed a growing population. Although there is a lot of research to be done, and some of the data up to date is limited, I want to ask the question: can aquaponics be economically feasible in a larger, commercial scale?
Aquaponics is basically an integrated system for growing food (normally green vegetables) with the help of fish. The fish waste provides an organic food source for the growing plants and the plants provide a natural filter for the water the fish live in. After doing some research, I found that small scale aquaponic systems are efficient and are economically sustainable. On the contrary, we lack data to show that larger, commercial farms are as well. Yet there are some examples in Hawaii that show that in fact commercial aquaponic farms can be economically feasible. I will not get into details because it gets somehow complex but the University of Hawaii is involved in some these projects (total of three farms across Hawaii) and I think this is really interesting since it really can be a solution to food security issues in many countries.
This picture is a simple representation of an aquaponic system: a closed loop system.
These projects in Hawaii along with some other across the globe (there has been succesfull projects in Australia, Mexico, New Zealand and USA) show that it is economically possible to have a large, commercial aquaponic farm. I must mention that these farms are not as big as conventional farms but the yields are important and the energy usage is way less. It is important to be diverse when having an aquaponics farm and diversified your sources of income.
I strongly believe that aquaponic systems can be not only efficient in small scale farms but also in a commercial scale. If we developed the right relationships under the right conditions I believe we can achieve maximum efficiency and provide an alternative solution to many food problems. Perhaps it will not provide a solutions to every single food related problem but at least it is a different, more sustainable way of growing our food.
The name of the farms in Hawaii: Kunia Country Farms, Ilili Farms, Maris Garden.
If you know more about aquaponics or you are interested in this subject please feel free to comment.
Love, D. C., Fry, J. P., Li, X., Hill, E. S., Genello, L., Semmens, K., & Thompson, R. E. (2015, January). Commercial aquaponics production and profitability: Findings from an international survey. Aquaculture, 435, 67-74. doi:10.1016/j.aquaculture.2014.09.023
Naomasa, Emiko, Shawn Arita, Clyde Tamaru, and PingSun Leung. “Assessing Hawaii’s Aquaculture Farm and Industry Performance.” Aquaculture Economics & Management 17 (2013).
Tokunaga, Kanae, Clyde Tamaru, Harry Ako, and PingSun Leung. “Preliminary Findings from Economic Analysis of Commercial Scale Aquaponics.” Working Project (2013)
Aquaponics in Hawaii Conference May 25, 2013 Kanae Tokunaga*1,2, Clyde Tamaru3 , Harry Ako3 , and PingSun Leung2 1Department of Economics; 2Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Management; 3Department of Molecular Biosciences and Bioengineering University of Hawaii at Manoa.