Column: Sustainability, conservation & efficiency: The future of growing plants via hydroponics & aquaponics
Riverkeeper note: On Tuesday, July 18, aboard one of eight Floating Classrooms held by the Middle Susquehanna Riverkeeper Association, intern Peyton Johnson gave a presentation on aquaponics, hydroponics, and the benefits and importance of each as well as demonstrating how to make your own recycled water bottle hydroponic garden at home.
The presentation was a brief introduction to the topics and how they are currently being used. Some of the main points were how they each operate, the benefits, how they are being used on a large scale, and how they can be integrated into your home and everyday life.
The following blog post was written by Peyton Johnson as a review of that program:
Sustainability, water conservation, and efficiency are all important benefits of hydroponic and aquaponic growing systems.
The hydroponic and aquaponic growing systems operate by using a water-based nutrient solution instead of soil, cycling the water and providing nutrients to the plants.
Aquaponics operates similarly but integrates fish as the source of fertilizer and nutrients by recycling the used water from the tanks.
The benefits these systems hold over traditional farming methods are that it mimics nature in many ways, can be grown indoors, and in small spaces that wouldn’t otherwise be usable for agriculture, and doesn’t require pesticides or have excess fertilizers.
Most importantly, these systems also eliminate runoff completely and can reduce the amount of fertilizer, soil, and pesticides that end up in our beloved river each year.
Currently these systems are being used in very unique and important ways. Many shipping containers have been recycled and reused to bring these hydroponic systems to areas with poor soil quality, lack of space, and food deserts where agriculture may have been impossible in the past.
Not to mention just how efficient they are, increasing food production by as much as 70 percent more than traditional farming methods and allowing food to even be grown vertically. These systems allow food to be grown year-round regardless of weather conditions, and aquaponics allows fish to be grown and sold alongside gardening.
Aquaponics and hydroponics, though not designed to replace traditional farming methods completely, have the potential to reduce pollution, reduce water usage, feed millions of people per year, and eliminate hunger in America and help more people have access to fresh vegetables.
These systems can also be used at home by creating your own or purchasing an aquaponics or hydroponics growing system. Don’t have a backyard? These plants can be grown virtually anywhere in your house and allow you to have fresh vegetables grown year-round in your own home.
John Zaktansky is an award-winning journalist and avid promoter of the outdoors who loves camping, kayaking, fishing and hunting with the family.