[permaculture] Is This Aquaponics Then?

Toby Hemenway toby at patternliteracy.com
Tue Jun 9 10:27:08 EDT 2015


Thanks, Christopher. Very clear!

Steve, the fact that you worked in hydroponics might be part of the confusion. Aquaponics grows plants by entirely different processes than hydroponics; it’s unfortunate that the developers of aquaponics added the suffix “-ponics” because that makes people confuse it with hydroponics . 

In hydroponics, humans manufacture an NPK-style nutrient solution, or else they make an extract of a processed, stored manure, sometimes with compost tea added. It’s a human-made blend, often of off-the-shelf, factory-made chemicals. It’s dead by the time it reaches plants, and the plants are not in contact with living biology. There is no rhizosphere.

In aquaponics, fish poop out bacteria-rich living manure, which flows into a gravel bed where the same biological processes found in soil convert the manure to nitrates and other fertilizers, just as the biology in soil converts animal manure and plant matter to fertility. The plants are grown in a living biological matrix just as they are in soil. There is a living rhizosphere.

Utterly different. And aquaculture is also a very different process, especially when done at industrial scale, which is what those prawn factories were—no different from CAFOs. Not remotely like aquaponics.

Anyone who uses the words hydroponics and aquaponics in the same breath is demonstrating that they don’t know what one or the other is (and I don’t mean that as an insult; it’s just a simple fact). It’s like saying heirloom seeds and GMO seeds are the same thing because they are both bred by people.

Okay, that’s it for me. If after this and what Christopher has said, anyone thinks that aquaponics is in the same category as aquaculture and hydroponics, then they are impervious to learning. You’re welcome not to like any of them, just don’t confuse them.

Toby
http://patternliteracy.com

Coming in July: my new book on urban permaculture, The Permaculture City. Pre-order it at on-line booksellers or at http://www.chelseagreen.com/bookstore/item/the_permaculture_city/



> On Jun 8, 2015, at 11:24 PM, christopher nesbitt <christopher.nesbitt at mmrfbz.org> wrote:
> 
> To answer "one very basic question", wether or not aquaponics is anaerobic. Its not. This is a non-issue, a non-issue that has been addressed, before, right here, and answered, too, right here. Let’s hope it is not a non-issue question that revives its clueless head, here, yet again. 
> 
> Pay attention, boys and girls, because aquaponics is NOT an anaerobic condition, especially if the beds are gravel and flood and drain. In fact, the drawing down of the water table results in highly oxygenated grow beds, where the roots of the plants interact with the gravel in the grow beds, where the bacteria and fungi reside. An extremely active bacterial and fungal communities exist on the growing substrate. And the water, itself, is highly oxygenated, with multiple points for oxygenation. 
> 
> Root interaction with gravel is similar to interaction with soil, except there is less work for the roots to do to access the nutrients. Same bacterial communities, and by adding some compost tea t the recirculating water, the same fungal communities.
> 
> Most people who do not like aquaponics do not understand it, and make simple mistakes like thinking aquaponics is “anaerobic”, which could be proven to be untrue with the most minimal of research. Aqaponiphobes tend to be afraid of it because of exactly this, they have not done the research and find it to be strange enough that it can’t be (insert arbitrary value, unrelated to aquaponics, itself, here). This is the same lack of understanding and research that biocharaphobes and methanophobes suffer from, too, a lack of ability to understand the technology, a fear of the new and unknown, and an unwillingness to do any basic research into the technology. 
> 
> Again, if you don’t like/understand aquaponics/biochar/biogas,  because you disagree with it based on an inadequate understanding, then don’t practice it. Fine.  
> 
> But please don’t piss on other peoples work if this is the case. 
> 
> _____________________________
> 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 <applewebdata://10D0C938-2154-460E-A02D-63311038C515/www.mmrfbz.org>
> www.facebook.com/MayaMountainResearchFarm
> 
> 
> 
> 
>> On Jun 8, 2015, at 3:44 PM, Scott Pittman <scott at permaculture.org> wrote:
>> 
>> See comments within email below....
>> Scott P.
>> 
>> "To change something build a new model that makes the existing model
>> obsolete"  Buckminster Fuller
>> 
>> -----Original Message-----
>> From: permaculture [mailto:permaculture-bounces at lists.ibiblio.org <mailto:permaculture-bounces at lists.ibiblio.org>] On Behalf
>> Of Toby Hemenway
>> Sent: Monday, June 08, 2015 9:06 AM
>> To: permaculture
>> Subject: Re: [permaculture] Is This Aquaponics Then?
>> 
>> 
>>> On Jun 7, 2015, at 3:28 PM, Steve Hart <stevenlawrencehart at gmail.com>
>> wrote:
>>> 
>>> We know that composts of all nature of
>>> recipes assist in stimulating natures dynamics and it is in my opinion
>> that
>>> this is where we need to travel in designing and building better
>> solutions.
>> 
>> Aquaponics involves microbe-driven nutrient conversion of manures to live
>> fertilizers very similar to those that go on in soil. Why isn't that
>> natural? Because it's in water? Soil fertility is in water too (nutrients
>> are water suspended or dissolved, else the roots couldn't take them up). 
>> 
>> **I'm still on the fence with both Hydroponics and Aquaponics and for many
>> of the same reasons that Steve is but with a different concern...
>> Since most of our edible plants evolved from soil based growth, which is an
>> aerobic condition, they have co-evolved with certain soil based
>> micro-organisms.  This condition is one that has provided the basis of the
>> evolution of the nutrient content of most of our edibles.  If we change this
>> to an anaerobic environment it must surely change the relationship from
>> aerobic micro-organism to anaerobic micro-organisms and thereby have to
>> change or modify the nutrient content of the target plant. My question is
>> have there been any comparative studies done on nutrients of plants grown in
>> both environments?  We do know that there has been a severe loss of
>> nutrients, particularly zinc, iron, and calcium in plants grown with
>> petrochemical fertilizers.    
>> 
>> As far as plant nutrient uptake is concerned I always thought that this was
>> more of an anion/cation exchange between, primarily, clay particles in the
>> soil and rootlets of plants in an unsaturated environment.  This being an
>> electronic exchange it does not need to be in solution, no more than
>> lightning does.**  
>> 
>> Steve, could you describe what you mean by "natural?" It's a slippery word
>> that means very different things to different people. 
>> 
>> As I've said before, nuclear fission is natural, arsenic is natural,
>> botulism is natural, polio is natural. Those are not healthy to have near
>> human systems. Burning of some landscapes by indigenous people is
>> artificial, yet extremely healthy for biodiversity and human welfare. The
>> natural/artificial distinction is not a valid criterion to judge
>> appropriateness of a system.  Natural does not equal healthy, artificial
>> does not equal unhealthy. Any permaculturist should know that our criteria
>> are function and ecosystem health, not some slippery and arbitrary set of
>> boxes created by subjective prejudice as to whether something is
>> "artificial"  or not. We've gone round this one several times, and you keep
>> returning to "aquaponics produces artificial food" as the basis for your
>> argument. Can you cite evidence for your claim that aquaponic food is no
>> healthier than soda pop?
>> 
>> ** About the only thing I can think of in our, virtually, closed system
>> called Earth would be GMO insertion of animal genetic material in plant
>> genetic material.  I'm sure there are others, zircon for instance, but they
>> are few and far between.  So natural has become an almost meaningless word,
>> especially in the context of permaculture.**
>> 
>> 
>> -snip-
>> 
>> We need to be looking at the effects of these process on human and
>> ecological health, not making a "this isn't natural therefore it's bad"
>> arbitrary judgement based on whether we like the technology or processes
>> involved, or whether we things there is some esoteric life force present or
>> not.
>> 
>> **The only thing that defines whether something is esoteric or not is
>> whether or not science has blessed that something with its stamp of
>> approval, or in the case of Galileo the stamp of the Pope was sufficient to
>> brand Galileo's work esoteric.**
>> 
>> 
>> Toby
>> http://patternliteracy.com <http://patternliteracy.com/>
>> 
>> Coming in July: my new book on urban permaculture, The Permaculture City.
>> Pre-order it at on-line booksellers or at
>> http://www.chelseagreen.com/bookstore/item/the_permaculture_city/ <http://www.chelseagreen.com/bookstore/item/the_permaculture_city/>
>> 
>> **I am writing this, not to prolong the endless debate, but to try and
>> elucidate why one would not wholeheartedly embrace these technologies
>> without asking some very basic questions.**
>> 
>> Scott
>> http://permacultureinstitute.org <http://permacultureinstitute.org/>
>> 
>> Coming soon: My new book in the invisible structures, "Permaculture Dharma".
>> 
>> 
>> 
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