With more and more pressure being placed on our natural resources, both living (freshwater fish, seafood) and non-living (land, soil, water), there is a growing push for more sustainable alternatives. An aquaponic garden offers several environmental as well as health benefits over conventional methods of producing food, and it is more sustainable in the long-term.
An Aquaponic Garden can Reduce Overfishing
Seafood provides the primary source of protein for many people throughout the world. To meet the demands of an ever growing global population, our ocean resources are being overfished at a rate exceeding that at which they are being replenished. This is unsustainable, and not only has implications for food and job security, but it also has an environmental and ecological impact, disrupting food webs and ecological dynamics.
Aquaculture has been proposed as an alternative that supposedly reduces this pressure; however, it very often causes environmental impacts that are just as bad, if not worse, than overfishing (e.g. destroying mangroves for aquaculture ponds, targeting important species to use to manufacture fishmeal to feed the fish/shrimps being cultivated, discharging nutrient-rich wastewater effluent contaminated with growth hormones, antibiotics into the environment, etc.). An aquaponic garden on the other hand, provides a sustainable source of environmentally-friendly protein, together with a side serving of fruit and veggies, that will never run out.
An Aquaponic Garden Saves Water
In many regions of the world, groundwater supplies are diminishing as a result of being overexploited for use in the agricultural and industrial sectors. This is further exacerbated by climate change and increased drought in many areas. Because an aquaponic garden is a closed-loop system, very little water is used. The water in an aquaponics system is recycled — it is pumped from the fish tank (fish provide the nutrients the plants need for growth) to the plant grow beds (where the plants filter the water), with clean, naturally filtered water returning to the fish tank. As a result, an aquaponics garden uses about 90% less water than conventional gardening methods.
Provides a Locally Grown Food Supply
Because an aquaponics system can be set up anywhere, it can provide a source of locally grown food, reducing or completely eliminating the need for transportation. This in turn eliminates the carbon emissions associated with transportation, and the food produced onsite is fresher, tastier and healthier.
Food Produced is 100% Organic
No growth hormones, antibiotics, pesticides, herbicides or other hazardous chemicals are used in an aquaponics garden, ensuring that the fish and crops produced are 100% organically grown, healthy and wholesome. Using pesticides and chemicals on the plants will harm fish, while treating fish with growth hormones and antibiotics will adversely affect plant growth. Consequently, neither can be used in a recirculated closed-loop aquaponics system. As a result, the food produced is free from chemicals and other commonly used toxic substances that are potentially harmful to our health.
An Aquaponic Garden Produces No Wastewater Effluent
Because an aquaponics garden consists of a recirculated closed-loop system, no wastewater effluent is discharged from the system. And even if water is periodically discharged for whatever reason, since there are no harmful additives it will not negatively impact the environment or contribute to harmful algal blooms.
Aquaponics is a sustainable method of simultaneously producing fish and fruit/vegetables to meet the demands of a growing human population. It uses the principles of ecology — natural nutrient cycling — to grow food naturally in a closed-loop system. There is no wastage; nutrients and water are recycled, alleviating the need for artificial chemical fertilizers and reducing the pressure on valuable freshwater resources. Fresh wholesome food (fruit, vegetables and protein) can be produced at home all year round, reducing the financial and environmental costs associated with transportation. When it comes to sustainably produced food, aquaponics is the answer. In fact, aquaponics may even prove to be the solution to world hunger.
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