Any aquaponics system can provide its practitioners with a wide array of healthy food while simultaneously being easy to manage and without being a threat to our environment. If done correctly, your aquaponics garden can give you a bountiful harvest that you are reaping pounds of fish and crops. In this post, we will discover how much quantity of protein-rich and nutrient-packed edibles aquaponics can give.
How fast do plants grow in aquaponics?
Plants grow much faster, healthier, and larger in aquaponics than in soil-based farming. This claim is due to the plants' constant access to growth nutrients. As an example, consider lettuce. The typical growth period is two months, but the aquaponics system typically takes only one month. On some occasions, vegetables and herbs grew four times faster in aquaponics than in hydroponics.
The argument above is supported by a study published in the Semantic Scholars in 2014 that compared the growth performances of taro plants in aquaponics and other systems. The results demonstrate that aquaponics produces the fastest growth of the taro plant, followed by soil, and finally hydroponics. The crop's development rate and biomass are attributed to the fact that in aquaponics, a steady supply of nutrients from fish excrement is provided for the plants.
In other tests, plants grew up to 25% faster in an aquaponics system, which is also an impressive feat. Furthermore, many studies show that plants grown in a soilless system grow larger and are more likely to survive than plants grown in soil. Plant flavor quality in an aquaponics system is also excellent, at least on par with soil-grown plants.
What aquaponics system gives you the most yield?
Here, let me take you on a quick tour of the top three aquaponics systems, namely nutrient film technique, media-based aquaponics, and deep water culture. Afterward, I will state my view on which aquaponics can give the grower the most yield.
The Nutrient Film Technique (NFT)
A thin layer of nutrient-loaded water is circulated through horizontal pipes in the Nutrient Film Technique or simply NFT. Plants are contained in net pots hung within perforations in the pipes' tops, allowing the roots to come into contact with the water. The water provides nutrients to the plants, which grow extensive root systems within the pipes. Plant stems and leaves emerge from and surround the pipes.
How does NFT work?
- Water is pumped with a tiny, even flow from the biofilter into each hydroponic pipe, generating a shallow stream of nutrient-loaded aquaponic water flowing along the bottom.
- The plants are inserted into the grow pipes through a series of openings along the top of the pipe.
- Plants begin to build root systems inside the grow pipes as they ingest the nutrient-rich water from the stream.
- Their stems and leaves grow out and around the pipes simultaneously.
- The root zone receives enormous amounts of oxygen, moisture, and nutrients, thanks to the shallow film of water at the bottom of each pipe.
- Before the water runs back into the fish tank, the roots clean and filter it.
- When water enters the fish tank, it overflows over the exit pipe and into the mechanical filter, completing the cycle.
The second type of aquaponics system available to many growers is media-based aquaponics. This soilless system is consists of a grow bed containing hydroponic media, such as expanding clay pebbles or gravel, and a fish tank area. The effluent is pumped from the fish tank to the grow bed, where bacteria and plants take the nutrients. The cleaned water is then aerated and reintroduced to the fish tank.
What type of materials are commonly used for the media bed?
Plastic, fiberglass, or timber frames with water-tight rubber or polyethylene sheets on the base and inside the walls can be used to construct media beds. All of those mentioned above can be used as beds and other types of tanks, provided they match the following criteria:
- Capable of holding water and growing media without breaking;
- Able to withstand adverse weather conditions;
- Made from food-grade substances and is safe for fish, plants, and microbes; and
- Can be linked with ease to other simple unit components via basic plumbing parts.
Deep Water Culture (DWC)
In this aquaponics setup, also called the raft method or floating system, the nutrient-rich water is cycled via lengthy canals at a depth of 20 centimeters while rafts float atop it.
How do you plant in deep water culture?
Planting in an aquaponics raft system entails suspending plants on rafts (foam or polystyrene sheets) with their roots dangling in the water. The net cups used to support the plants are drilled into the floating rafts. The number of holes and their location is determined by the veggies and the distance between them. Knowing which plants to grow in aquaponics is critical for a successful aquaponics system.
Which aquaponics setup produces more yield?
Among the three systems that I briefly discussed above, the deep water culture is the one that can give you the most number of harvested crops. This is because of two things: scalability and fast growth rate.
Scalability refers to the capability of the system to be enlarged. DWC systems can be built in various designs, are incredibly scalable, and maintain plants during growth using only water, fertilizers, and hydroponic medium.
There is no buffer period between root and nutrient exchange since the nutrient solution surrounds the root zone. This situation causes plants to grow faster and more aggressively during growth and bloom periods. This claim is backed up by Royal Queen Seeds, an international proponent of DWC systems' increasing potential:
"Plants grown in DWC setups have easier access to oxygen and nutrients, which means they spend less energy searching for nutrients and developing roots. As a result, plants will reward you with fast vegetative growth and excellent yields. In a good DWC set up with the right nutrients and strain, cannabis can grow as much as 10cm in a single day!"
How much food can you produce in aquaponics?
The type of aquaponics system you are utilizing determines the quantity of food product you can expect to harvest. Add to this the space you have allotted for it.
Aquaponics farms are incredibly productive, producing approximately 200,000 pounds of produce per acre. This harvest is achieved while using at least 90% less water and land than dry-land farms, maturing products faster and offering co-location with key distribution markets such as cities and export hubs.
One aquaponics store claims that by using their system, the grower can expect 110 pounds of fish per year and 900-1,440 heads of lettuce, other leafy crops, or a variety of vegetables such as tomatoes, beans, cucumbers, and others.
How can I help my aquaponics increase its yield?
By giving our aquaponics setup proper care, you are effectively improving its chance of giving you a profitable harvest. Here are some practical steps to keep your aquaponics running at its optimum level.
- Ensure that the water is consistently and adequately aerated and circulated. This will ensure that the fish have adequate levels of dissolved oxygen.
- Avoid overcrowding the fish in your aquaponics' water aquaculture area. Such a situation is known to be detrimental to your fish since it can cause stress. Another negative impact of overcrowding fish is that it can also lead to an increase in ammonia production in the nitrogen cycle, which the nitrifying bacteria may not be able to handle.
- It is also advisable to maintain a healthy balance of plants and fish at all times. Recall that an aquaponics ecosystem is a symbiotic relationship that connects nitrogen-producing fish to nitrogen-consuming plants. If the equilibrium between the two is not present, the water may become toxic to fish or the plants may not be able to grow.
- Maintain proper water chemistry in terms of pH, nitrogen cycle, and water temperature. The water in your aquaponics system is the link between the fish and the plants in the ecosystem.