Faming fish in an aquaponic system. (Photo: UNH)
New Hampshire University develops aquaponic project
Friday, September 30, 2016, 03:10 (GMT + 9)
Researchers at the University of New Hampshire (UNH) are developing an integrated aquaculture farming research project that aims to provide a model for integrating land-based aquaculture systems with hydroponic plant production systems that can be used locally to increase food production.
“Over half of the world’s seafood is produced from aquaculture. Eighty per cent of the seafood we eat here in the United States is imported resulting in nearly an annual USD 11 billion trade deficit for seafood alone. We need to take control of our food production systems by developing a sustainable U.S.-based aquaculture industry,” said Todd Guerdat, a NH Agricultural Experiment Station researcher and assistant professor of agricultural engineering who is leading the project at the Kingman Research Farm.
Specifically, researchers are evaluating nutrients for plants growing in a recirculating aquaponic system that come from the food fed to fish. Using three identical greenhouses, researchers will look at different protein levels in fish feed, and potentially different protein sources, as a way to determine if higher protein diets are more beneficial for plant production or not, or if a different protein source produces different plant-available nutrients in the system.
Guerdat explained that while recirculating aquaponic businesses are already in action in New Hampshire and the Northeast, there are many questions that still remain, such as how to match the fish and plant production systems, how big each should be, what realistic production estimates are for business plan development, what the most efficient design is for a recirculating aquaponic system.
What is intended with this research project is to be able to answer those questions.
The researcher points out that integrated farming systems improve energy and resource utilization, and offer an opportunity to monetize otherwise costly treatment processes.
However, to ensure the sustainable development of an integrated recirculating aquaponic system that produces vegetables and herbs using excess nutrients from finfish production, renewed engineering principles must be applied to develop sound system design guidelines for realistic productivity estimates and economic sustainability.