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Aquaponics Aquaponics, energy efficiency, and an ecosystem approach to food production


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By Charlie Price

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Aquaponics Aquaponics, energy efficiency, and an ecosystem approach to food production

  1. 1. Aquaponics, energy efficiency, and an ecosystem approach to food production Charlie Price
  2. 2. 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
  3. 3. 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
  4. 4. So what is going on globally?
  5. 5. So why do we find ourselves in this global predicament? • 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.
  6. 6. 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.
  7. 7. 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)
  8. 8. So what is aquaponics ? • Aquaponics involves the integration of aquaculture and hydroponics. • 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- plants, offcuts-worms-fish  Heat – heating gains in the day and heat losses at night • Minimising Costs and Maximising Outputs
  9. 9. How aquaponics works.... • Fish are cultured as in any aquaculture system (and at the similar densities) • Dissolved wastes provide a nutrient source for plants grown hydroponically. plants • Waste products utilised as resources in an ecosystems approach fish bacteria • Low input, high output
  10. 10. 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
  11. 11. 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.
  12. 12. 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 surface area.
  13. 13. In summary... • 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.
  14. 14. Some case studies...
  15. 15. The ABLE project Climate controlled greenhouses in Wakefield
  16. 16. • 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 catfish. • 30 acres of willow coppice which is feeding a biomass 60kw biomass boiler. • Also classrooms, outdoor vegetable allotments, beehives and an orchard. • And now 3 aquaponics greenhouses.
  17. 17. From design to operation Construction CAD modelling Commissioning and training
  18. 18. How the system operates..
  19. 19. Life cycle assessment • An in depth appraisal of the system • Exploring the implications of different materials and production processes • Used to inform material choices and lower impacts • An exciting tool to validate our “green” credentials and the implications of production.
  20. 20. 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
  21. 21. S & S Aqua Farm • North Plains, Missouri and modified North Carolina State • Growbeds utilised as fluidised bed reactors. • 45-70 lbs of vegetable crops per 1lb of tilapia • Modular system design.
  22. 22. Scope of our current work.. nationally Aquaponics UK “customers”
  23. 23. Scope of our current work.. internationally Aquaponics UK “customers” Aquaponics UK Research partner organisations
  24. 24. So where does aquaponics fit ? • Domestically. • Educationally • Community based resources. • Commercial systems. • Larger Scale decoupled systems.
  25. 25. Thank you