Aquaponics Aquaponics, energy efficiency, and an ecosystem approach to food production
Aquaponics, energy efficiency, and an
ecosystem approach to food production
Expanding portfolio, commercial and research
support, our niche firmly established.
Princess Anne, Harrogate & schools. Interest
developing on many levels. BBC2 Future of food
Able Project putting theory into practice.
UVI, RELU, Eduardo Pantella, Thermotec Ecosystems Ltd
PhD involving integrated fish/vegetable farming - System Group, D.Little, IoA
So what are we now?
• We are a social enterprise operating on a not for profit
basis, linked to the Institute of Aquaculture
• Our model involves providing commercial products and
services, feeding back profits into research, development,
grants and scholarships .
• We aim to be financially sustainable, contributing to,
rather that drawing from, resources.
• Starting with the ABLE project prototype systems in 2007,
two years later we now have over 20 projects world wide
from Dorset to Afghanistan
So why do we find ourselves in this global
• In 2000 there were 10 times more people on earth
than just 300 years ago.
• Predicted to reach 9 billion by 2050.
• Thus we would need to produce 50% more food and
energy by 2030 to meet our growing demands.
• Over extraction of groundwater common place.
• Ultimately we have been using our resources
unsustainably for far too long.
Our constraints are clear
• Finite resources
• Urban expansion
• Increasing population
• Food security
• Land Use conflicts
• We need to produce more food per unit area, with
less water, less energy and less external inputs.
The solutions are equally clear..
• Energy efficiency (getting more from less, valuing waste)
• Local production (decreasing transport emissions)
• Integrated production (multi use, diverse outputs) and
collocating businesses (consciously)
• Enhancing education (enabling a growing generation)
• Sustainability (economically, socially& environmentally)
So what is aquaponics ?
• Aquaponics involves the integration of aquaculture and
• Aquaponics provides a low input, high output system with high
value crops ranging from fish, prawns, herbs and salad crops.
• There are three main cycles taking place.
Water – recirculated and topped
up with rainwater harvesting
Wastes – fish wastes-nitrates-
Heat – heating gains in the day
and heat losses at night
• Minimising Costs and Maximising Outputs
How aquaponics works....
• Fish are cultured as in any aquaculture system (and at the
• Dissolved wastes provide a nutrient
source for plants grown hydroponically.
• Waste products utilised as resources
in an ecosystems approach
• Low input, high output
Harvesting – driven by demand
• Continuous or in batch harvesting depending on market demand.
• Important to maintain balance in biomass.
• Crops can be also be planted and cropped on demand due to
the fast production cycles
Hydroponic plant growth
• High value, fast growing crops.
• Either complete of partial reuse of nutrients
• Studies have shown 3-18 times greater
production than with the same crops in soil.
Feeding – from low input to no input
• Fish are feed either a complete pelleted diet
• Or feed with worms and off-cuts as supplementary feed
• Feeding rate based on desired growth rates and plant
• An ecosystem approach to food production.
• As much an ethos as a technique.
• As energy is never lost it’s just converted from one
form to another, thus it’s not only about minimising
energy use, but also managing this conversion.
The ABLE project
Climate controlled greenhouses in Wakefield
• Able project was set up to provide an outdoor educational facility
for youth offenders, and community service “participants”.
• Existing Aquaculture system growing tilapia, sturgeon, carp and
• 30 acres of willow coppice which is feeding a biomass 60kw
• Also classrooms, outdoor vegetable
allotments, beehives and an orchard.
• And now 3 aquaponics greenhouses.
From design to operation
Commissioning and training
Life cycle assessment
• An in depth appraisal of the system
• Exploring the implications of different materials and
• Used to inform material choices and lower impacts
• An exciting tool to validate our
“green” credentials and the
implications of production.
University of the Virgin Islands
• Run continuously for
over 5 years
• 3 times basil production
when compared to field
crops (18x for Okra)
• 5 tonne tilapia production
S & S Aqua Farm
• North Plains, Missouri and modified
North Carolina State
• Growbeds utilised as fluidised
• 45-70 lbs of vegetable crops per
1lb of tilapia
• Modular system design.
Scope of our current work.. nationally
Aquaponics UK “customers”
Scope of our current work.. internationally
Aquaponics UK “customers”
Aquaponics UK Research partner organisations
So where does aquaponics fit ?
• Community based resources.
• Commercial systems.
• Larger Scale decoupled systems.