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Hooked on Aquaponics

Posted by Arthur Neal, Deputy Administrator, AMS Transportation & Marketing Program in Animals Plants
Nov 08, 2013
This fish tank is located in Honolulu, HI at the President William McKinley High School, and illustrates the cleanliness of water in an aquaponics/aquaculture system.  For aquaponics, when the system is properly balanced, the water can be maintained at maximum clarity. Photo courtesy of the Hawaii Department of Agriculture.
This fish tank is located in Honolulu, HI at the President William McKinley High School, and illustrates the cleanliness of water in an aquaponics/aquaculture system. For aquaponics, when the system is properly balanced, the water can be maintained at maximum clarity. Photo courtesy of the Hawaii Department of Agriculture.

If you’re wondering what aquaponics is, you’re not alone.  Tracing its roots back to the Aztecs and rice cultivation in South China, aquaponics is a combination of aquaculture and hydroponics – growing fish and plants together in a symbiotic system.  Basically, the plants keep the water clean for the fish to grow, and the fish fertilize the plants. Both help the other to survive and thrive.

A wide variety of foods—lettuce, beans, broccoli, cucumbers, peas, herbs, strawberries, melons, and tomatoes, for example—all flourish through aquaponics farming.

The Hawaii Department of Agriculture, in cooperation with the Aquaculture Program of the University of Hawaii, is surveying grocery retailers and restaurants in Hawaii to explore the viability of aquaponic farming in the market place.  They are looking at several factors, such as market acceptance, demand level, preferred product form, packaging and price points for produce and fish produced by aquaponics farms.  Their research will help farmers better understand the benefits and viability of aquaponics as a method for raising fish and specialty crops simultaneously.

This project is the first aquaponics project ever awarded a grant through USDA’s Federal-State Marketing Improvement Program (FSMIP).  The grants are designed to support a wide range of projects, fostering work between the States, academia, farmers, and many other stakeholders.

Aquaponics farming is one example of the research-based, innovative projects USDA supports, with the goal of improving the long-term efficiency and sustainability of American agriculture.

Administered by USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS), FSMIP provides matching funds on a competitive basis to state agencies and universities to assist in exploring new market opportunities for U.S. food and agricultural products.   To find out more about other FSMIP projects, visit www.ams.usda.gov/FSMIP.

This growbed is located in Apopka, FL, at the Pentair Aquatic Ecosystems Demonstration Farm, and is a great example of the diversity of plants that can thrive in close proximity to each other.  The floating rafts are visible which hold the root structures of the plants.  Many vegetables, herbs, fruits, and flowers flourish in an aquaponics environment. Photo courtesy of the Hawaii Department of Agriculture.
This growbed is located in Apopka, FL, at the Pentair Aquatic Ecosystems Demonstration Farm, and is a great example of the diversity of plants that can thrive in close proximity to each other. The floating rafts are visible which hold the root structures of the plants. Many vegetables, herbs, fruits, and flowers flourish in an aquaponics environment. Photo courtesy of the Hawaii Department of Agriculture.
Category/Topic: Animals Plants

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Comments

Sarah
Nov 09, 2013

Aquaponics is an effective method to overcome the lack of fertile land. I'm glad to see that Hawaii is investigating the use of aquaponics in the marketplace. Though the system is relatively unheard of, it is quite innovative. Depending on how aquaponics in Hawaii goes, the program might be able to expand and revolutionize the fish and vegetable farming industry. Aquaponics not only could be effective in the United States, but it could also assist countries with barren land that does not easily support farming.

In general, I am very pleased that the USDA Agricultural Marketing Service is supporting innovative programs in food and agriculture products. I am very concerned about what food I consume, and sometimes I worry about how my food is grown. New techniques that are new yet natural should be investigated, and I fully support what the USDA is doing.

Steven
Nov 17, 2013

This sure is great news. Aquaponics is definitely the way forward to a greener earth. Whether it be commercial or a home set-up, aquaponics should be encouraged in a global scale.

That's one of the main reasons why I have created, http://www.aquaponicssystemsolutions.com/, to spread the awareness aquaponics world wide, especially Asia-Pacific reagon where aquaponics is basically unknown of.

Thank you for sharing this blog.

Steven

David
Nov 27, 2013

Great to see information about aquaponics on the USDA website!

It is very exciting to be a part of the aquaponics growth movement and teaching people how to build their own systems via our DIY video or how to setup and manage one of our complete kits!

One of our goals is to help schools use aquaponics in the classroom as a teaching tool! As such we offer schools a discount at http://shop.endlessfoodsystems.com/!

Are any of these grants are available for schools? If so, please contact me with information so we can offer that to them as well. Thanks!

David Barbee
Endless Food Systems
http://www.endlessfoodsystems.com/

Martin McCurdy
Dec 07, 2013

Sand Creek Farm in Cameron, Texas is hosting the Texas Commercial Aquaponics and Solar Greenhouse Training from January 13-17, 2014.

Sand Creek Farm has three commercial aquaponics systems along with a raw milk dairy, farmstead cheese house and a vegetable CSA that provide food to over 225 families in central Texas.

For more information about Sand Creek Farm or to enroll in the training, visit http://www.sandcreekfarm.net/aquaponics or call Ben Godfrey at 979-220-7908.

Lisa
Feb 05, 2014

As a passionate gardner, Ive been researching & am very interested in setting up a hydro or aquaponics system. If anyone wants me to trial or help fund me out in eastern PA where much ground is used for fodder or horses. Pls let me know. Also any info anyone has would be appreciated. Very exciting to see this progress.

Shawn Dietzer
Apr 02, 2014

It's great to see the government starting to support Aquaponics. It's hard not to see the benefits of Aquaponics.

I live in the heart of the corn belt and it's a a great place to introduce Aquaponics to the masses.

This is why I started http://www.diyaquaponics.org was to teach folks about how wonderful this farming technology really is!

Shirley Bass
Oct 08, 2014

This has great information. I moved from Upstate New York to the south where the lack of rain can cause gardens not to flourish. I learned of Aqauponics and found that farming in the south can be done after all. We have a video of a couple who have recently started their own Aquaponics; it may be helpful to readers who are interested in starting their own. http://bit.ly/1vUpI7d It's an awesome video with a lot of information of how they got started and what they do.

aquaponics
Jun 07, 2015

Aquaponics is the most efficient way to grow your own veggies as the product is better then the conventional organic food,obviously because of lack of insecticides,vegetables tastes so much better....

Coy M. LaSister
Mar 01, 2016

Our community garden non-profit organization is partnering with some social impact entrepreneurs to develop a commercial aquaponics food production facility to provide a local healthy foods source and train urban youth in marine science as a workforce development initiative. We are looking for ways to partner with USDA to assist in funding this project. We believe aquaponics is the future answer to feeding our growing population.

Hakiem Mishoe
Oct 05, 2016

I actually read the post. Very informative and should be implemented globally.

Andy Wright
Jan 25, 2017

Its great to see the USDA promoting aquaponics. As we look towards a more sustainable future, hydroponics, aquaponics, and methods utilizing vertical growing will become crucial to feeding our global popular healthy, local foods. I think getting kids involved in learning how our ecosystem works at a young age is important, and I hope school systems look at aquaponics kits and other easy-to-learn tools. They are educational and teach our kids the lessons of nature, the ecosystem, and food sustainability.

Kevin Donnelly
Nov 25, 2017

I would like to know if the USDA has any grants for Aquaponics programs?
If so how do I apply?

Thank you.

Kevin donnelly

Ben Weaver
Nov 27, 2017

@Kevin Donnelly - Thanks for your comment.  USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture does have an Aquaculture program, which may be helpful to you. While there is not a grant program specifically tailored to aquaponics, the Federal-State Market Improvement Program funds can be used for projects focused on aquaponics.  Additionally, the Specialty Crop Block Grant Program fund can be used for aquaponics so long as the project solely enhances the competitiveness of specialty crops.  If you are considering an organic operation, the organic cost share program provides reimbursement for organic certification expenses.