[permaculture] pc aquaponics

christopher nesbitt christopher.nesbitt at mmrfbz.org
Sun Oct 7 16:31:47 EDT 2012


Hi Steve,

I have to disagree with your assessment that aquaponics is "working against nature". Perhaps you do not understand that aquaponics is using hydroponic grow beds to filter and oxygenate water in high stocking density aquaculture, in a recirculating system?  

The concept of plants and water is not a new concept. While aquaponics uses pumps and pipes and electricity, it is not that different to the concept of paddy rice, or to the chinampa system practiced in Central Mexico by the Aztecs, which are both time honored and highly productive. Nobody would consider either of these systems to be "working against nature". Are electric lights working against nature? Should we return to oil lamps?

One of the limiting factors in aquaculture is the stocking density. Putting too much fish in the water can result in build up of ammonia and a bloom of algae, resulting in depletion of oxygen and death of your fish. This is called eutrophication. Another problem is that veggies and herbs need certain conditions. Our rainy season here in Belize, for example, is too wet to grow cabbage, cucumbers, tomatoes, or the plants will get hammered by our rain. We get over 160 inches of rain a year, with up to 8 inches of rain in a night during the intense rains of June, July and August. You can apply that to areas with hard freezes, too.

Aquaponics converts the problem of too much nutrients in water into the solution to how to grow veggies and herbs in a small area. First, it allows small holders to grow fish in a small area, say a back yard, or a patio, and it also allows the production of vegetables. Coupled with a green house in a temperate climate, it would either increase your season for veggies, or make it year round.  

Aquaponics is definitely is a tool to keep in your tool kit. While I would never imagine aquaponics would replace soil based agriculture, or pond based aquaculture, aquaponics lends itself well on places with any of the following issues:
1. Poor soil
Much of the world has poor soil, and soil based agriculture will give small yields.
2. Contaminated soil
In places where the soil, itself, is toxic, aquapnics allows the production of fresh local veggies and herbs while avoiding taking up toxins in soil
3. Lack of access to water for irrigation 
Aquaponics is %90 more efficient with water than soil based agriculture. Israel is one of the leaders in aquaponics technology. 
4. High population density areas, especially urban areas.
Aquaponics can have a very small foot print, can be roof mounted, can be part of school programs, attached to hospitals. Working with industrial ecologies toed to surplus energy or nutrients, like day old bread and waste heat from a bakery, for example, or table scraps fed to vermiculture in a cafeteria, and the  earth worms giving nutrients for the fish, and yeilding worm castings for gardens, and aquaponics can be integrated into an urban landscape.

Aquaponics systems range in size from gold fish tanks to many acres of veggies with thousands of fish in tens of thousands of gallons of water. Some are expensive, built rom expensive parts, and some are made from old tanks and barrels. Joels system, in a space 4x8 meters in size, produced 100 kilograms of veggies and over 50 kg of fich in a 6 month period in suburban Perth. Nobody can say it is not productive. 

We are working on an aquaponics system here, and expect it to be up and running by the end of the year. Limiting factors for us have been having a large enough photovoltaic system to run it. If anyone is interested in learning a LOT about aquaponics, check genius Aussie Joel Malcolms web page www.backyardaquaponics.com. He even has a forum where hundred of people have their systems on display. 

Best wishes,

Christopher


_____________________________
Christopher Nesbitt

Maya Mountain Research Farm
San Pedro Columbia, Toledo
PO 153 Punta Gorda Town, Toledo
BELIZE, 
Central America

Country code 501-630-4386

www.mmrfbz.org
www.facebook.com/MayaMountainResearchFarm




On Oct 7, 2012, at 12:06 PM, Steve Hart wrote:

> Permaculture Aquaponics ?....thats doing sprouts. Interesting debate Georg.
> I recall a strong cliche and probably a well used principle in Permaculture
> that states " Work with Nature not Against Her" . Any water plants that
> exist in that world in nature are surely part of an aquaponic system. But
> when we call hydroponics organic and Permaculture someone went to the wrong
> course or had a very deficient teacher. I like the connection with nature
> for it has so many valuable realms that connect many of our critical
> functions to the elements we receive from that connection. They are not
> simple nutrition but many other levels of energy as well. Then of course we
> get into another huge debate about appropriate or non -appropriate diets.
> Interesting to see the acceleration in Prana. I look forward to the
> debate....Steve Hart
> 
> On 7 October 2012 16:06, georg parlow <g.parlow at gmx.at> wrote:
> 
>> Hi there,
>> 
>> Being stuck in a city I recently started pondering and researching the
>> idea of aquaponics. The web tells me of Max Meyers doing aquaponics
>> the permaculture way. I am am pc designer myself for almost 20 years
>> now, with moderate experience in counselling, design and
>> implementation. I am wondering what he does differently that any
>> decent permie would not think of my himself? Any experiences? Any
>> reports or details of his approach anywhere on the web?
>> 
>> thanks,
>> Georg
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> 
> 
> 
> -- 
> Kia ora
> 
> [image: Picture]
> *Steve Hart*
> Ecology Architect
> skype: stevenlawrencehart
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