We're so glad you asked! It is only the hottest trend making its way all over the world. From hobbyists, to backyard enthusiasts to small or large scale commercial farms. Let's first explore what Aquaponics is.
Aquaponics technology is a food production system that is recognized as an efficient answer to the most basic requirement of modern living by providing a clean, economically and environmentally sustainable production of food. Aquaponics integrates the advantages of two well defined technologies: (1) aquaculture (production of fish) and (2) hydroponics (culturing plants without soil), into a recirculating self-sustaining food production system where the fish and plants exist in a symbiotic environment. An aquaponic system thrives for the reason that water from the fish tank(s) is converted by beneficial bacteria into nutrient-rich water that flows into separate plant grow beds (hydroponic troughs) which is immediately utilized by the plants (such as lettuce or herbs) as fertilizer. The plants clean the water by consuming the nutrient water and the clean water is returned back to the fish tank(s) repeating ad infinitum, creating a symbiotic environment and a recirculating self-sustaining system. The result is clean food because the plants grow in a natural nutrient rich, pesticide free, organic environment. Pesticides and chemicals are prohibited anywhere within the system or the fish and or the plants will perish. Aquaponic technology is an intensive recirculating aquaculture system that continually reuses water providing several benefits compared to soil farming or aquaculture. Aquaponics uses at least 80% less water than soil farming and 90-99% less water than traditional aquaculture systems. Conserving water maximizes profits, bio-security, and cost effectiveness of the production system. Reusing water also reduces competition for water resources, reduces discharges that are under stricter government regulation and provides flexibility where the farm is located (near market-Urban applications). Commercial benefits of aquaponic technology are increased efficiency due to dual use of facilities and employees, minimizes energy use and other costs, faster grow out periods than soil farms providing more harvests and income per year, provides the grower greater flexibility to quickly meet new market trends, consistently fulfill retailer/wholesaler supply quotas thereby reducing their risk, and maximizes production and profit.
By Simple Definition and Narrative Glossary of Aquaponics Terms Aquaponics: An intensive aquaculture and agricultural production system utilizing:
• Aquaculture- the production of aquatic animals, and
• Hydroponics- the production of vegetables without soil, and
• A Commercial Aquaponics System - how these two normally independent systems are combined in a large-scale recirculating system that reduces costs and enhances the profits of both.
Advantages of Aquaponics:
Aquaponic food production systems have several advantages over soil based farms:
• Aquaponics is a soilless food production system so all of the land purchase issues, toxicity problems and infrastructure needs for land based agriculture such as irrigation are eliminated.
• Aquaponics is a recirculating system that can be indoors allowing the operator to control the environment to maximize growth and diversity of types of fish and plants, consistency of quality and production volumes including scalability all year round regardless of the outdoor environment. Organic soil farming is outside subject to elements such as weather, climate and disease affecting quality, seasonality of products and production volumes that the operator cannot control
• The recirculating of water creates an environmentally sustainable system and significantly reduces water and energy usage compared to organic soil agriculture farms reducing the stress on finite resources available to the local area.
• Infrastructure costs are lower because farm equipment such as pickers, seeders, tractors, soil composters, rototillers, harvesting machines etc. are not necessary.
• Shorter plant growing cycles and more plants can be grown per square foot allowing a smaller site footprint than soil farm adding to more options for site location decisions.
• Provides vast flexibility of physical site locations because indoor aquaponic systems operate efficiently independent of the outdoor weather and environment.
• Land used for organic crop production must have no prohibited substances for three years prior to harvest (no chemical pesticides or fertilizers). Aquaponic food production systems do not have a waiting period and can market and sell organic products immediately after certification.
• The USDA has extensive requirements for organic crop production that create additional opportunity costs, capital costs and higher operating expenditures creating barriers for the conventional farmer to convert to organic farming. These costs are minimal or do not exist at all because an aquaponic production system is inherently organic.
From improved behavior and temperament to faster weight gains, fodder will benefit your swine operation and lower feed costs.
Although the methods of hydroponic fodder production date back to the 1930's, there is renewed interest in hydroponic fodder as a feedstuff for cattle, horses, sheep, goats, and other livestock. Hydroponics is a method of growing plants without soil. Only moisture and nutrients are provided to the growing plants. There are many advantages to hydroponics: 1). Hydroponic growing systems produce a greater yield over a shorter period of time in a smaller area than traditionally-grown crops. 2). There is a reduction or exclusion of pesticides and herbicides because the plants are in a more protected growing environment. 3). Hydroponics is a year-round growing system that produces a consistent quantity and quality of plant material, regardless of outside weather. 4). Fodder (livestock feed) can be grown hydroponically much the same as vegetables, flowers, and other plants. 5). Hydroponic fodder systems are usually used to sprout cereal grains, such as barley, oats, wheat, sorghum, and corn, or legumes, such as alfalfa, clover, or cow peas. Barley is the most commonly grown forage, because it usually gives the best yield of nutrients. Forage mixtures are another option. A hydroponic fodder system usually consists of a framework of shelves on which metal or plastic trays are stacked. After soaking for about 12 hours, a layer of seeds is spread over the base of the trays. During the growing period, the seeds are kept moist, but not saturated. They are supplied with moisture and (sometimes) nutrients, usually via drip or spray irrigation. Holes in the trays facilitate drainage and the waste water is collected in a tank. The seeds will usually sprout within 24 hours and in 5 to 7 days have produced a 6 to 8 inch high grass mat. After the mat is removed from the tray, it can go into a feed mixer or be hand-fed to livestock. Livestock will eat the whole thing: seeds, roots, and grass. There is minimal waste.
Fodder sprouts are tender and young, the equivalent of fresh green grass. As such, they are highly palatable and nutritious to all types and classes of livestock. On a dry matter basis, hydroponic fodder compares favorably with other nutritious feedstuffs. STAY TUNED FOR MORE INFORMATION!!
Copyright 2012. Aqua Growers & Aqua Growers of Michigan, LLC. All Rights Reserved
Designed by Empowered LLC
Feeding fodder will result in higher milk production in dairy cattle and increased natural weight gain in beef cattle and young stock
More Information on Fodder
Articles coming soon.......
Supplementing with Fodder
Articles Coming soon.......
Whether you raise goats for milk or meat, supplementing with fodder offers nutritional advantages and will improve the quality of your end product.
Horses are natural grazers. Adding fresh fodder sprouts to their diet offers nutritional benefits and will reduce the recovery time needed after hard work.