Connecting People to Locally Grown Food
The CERES Green Technology Team, in collaboration with Biologist Dr Wilson Lennard and CERES Organic Farm, has designed and built one of the world's most energy and water efficient, free-standing aquaponics systems.
The project aims to integrate aquaponics into an urban farming system that provides communities with access to low cost organic produce and food growing training within walking distance of their homes.
The aquaponics system is a modular structure that uses affordable construction materials - a shipping containers and poly greenhouses. The aquaponics system will be one element of an urban farm system, or Food Hub, which will include space for other production systems, along with space for vegetable sorting and storage, farm training and tool storage space.
Led by CERES Green Technology Designer Stephen Mushin and Biologist Dr Wilson Lennard, construction of the first prototype aquaponics system was finished in 2011.
What is Aquaponics?
Aquaponics is a water efficient method of growing food which uses the nutrient-rich waste products from a freshwater fish to fertilise food crops.
In comparison to conventional broadacre farming, where water in irrigation systems is lost through evaporation, percolation and runoff, the only water loss in an Aquaponics system is the minimal amount extracted by plants and lost through transpiration and evaporation. In an aqauponics system all water not used by the plants is recycled back to the fish tank as purified water. Aquaponics systems use less than 1% of the water that a broadacre farm, of similar size, would consume.
In an Aquaponics systems, there is also no need for fossil fuel based fertilizers because the food crops get all their nutrient requirements from the fish waste.
The addition of a greenhouse into an aquaponics system provides a warmer environment which allows for a longer growing season in colder climates.
How Aquaponic Systems Work
Aquaponic systems consist of network of pipes and pumps that circulate waste water from a freshwater fish tank to water filled garden beds. Beneficial bacteria that occur naturally, convert the fish waste into soluble nutrients which food crops can then absorb and use for growth.
Crops most commonly grown in Aquaponics systems include Asian greens, culinary herbs, lettuces and tomatoes, but most plants that can be grown in a vegetable garden bed can be grown in an aquaponics system.
More info on CERES Aquaponic systems