Drought, Warming Climates Increase Feasibility of Aquaponic Food Systems Reports Water Advocate

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Bio Logic Aqua Research Founder and radio show host Sharon Kleyne interviews aquaponics pioneer Charles Shultz on fresh water recycling and self contained food production systems.

Interest in Aquaponics, a food production system in which plants are grown in fresh water and obtain nutrition from waste material produced by fish living in the water, is rapidly increasing. The reason, according to aquaponics pioneer Charles Shultz, is that aquaponics produces both meat and vegetables using an all-natural self contained system requiring little outside water or fertilizers. Recent widespread drought and fresh water shortages have motivated many food producers to look more closely at the potential of aquaponics.

Shultz was interviewed on the Sharon Kleyne Hour™ Power of Water® radio show of January 5, 2015. For the live broadcast, or podcasts of past shows, go to http://www.voiceamerica.com/show/2207/the-sharon-kleyne-hour. Coincidentally, a commercially manufactured aquaponic system designed for home marijuana production, was announced a few days after the Shultz interview.*

  • “American Green premieres ground breaking GroRaptor aquaponics system,” Market Wired, January 13, 2015

http://finance.yahoo.com/news/american-green-premiers-ground-breaking-133000600.html;_ylt=AwrSyCTXuLZU6FkAwbPQtDMD

Charles Shultz has traveled the world lecturing on aquaponic food production systems, both small and large scale. He is considered the world’s leading authority on aquaponics. Shultz was based at the University of the Virgin Islands for 14 years but is now at the Lethbridge College in Alberta, Canada.

The syndicated Sharon Kleyne Hour™ Power of Water® radio show, hosted by fresh water advocate Sharon Kleyne, is heard weekly on VoiceAmerica and Apple iTunes. The education oriented show is sponsored by Bio Logic Aqua® Research, a global research and technology center founded by Kleyne and specializing in fresh water, the atmosphere and dehydration. Nature’s Tears® EyeMist® is the Research Center’s signature product for dry and dehydrated eyes.

The difference between aquaponics and the more common hydroponics, according to Shultz, is that hydroponics grows vegetables in fresh water using fertilizer to feed the plans. Aquaponics combines aquaculture, the commercial growing of fish, with hydroponics, producing both fish and vegetables. The plants feed off the fish’s waste material, which purifies and recycles the water so that it can be constantly reused. The fish can be harvested or not harvested but do require fish food.

Food grown indoors with an aquaponic system, according to Kleyne, would be more nutritious than food grown outdoors in the soil because there is no pollution and the environment is controlled. Adjusting the environment can make output even more nutritious or grow faster.

The most commonly utilized fish is tilapia, says Shultz, a warm water lake and river species that ranks number one with salmon in commercial production. Tilapia are hardy, feed only on plant material and produce lots of waste. Where the fish aren’t harvested, koi goldfish, another warm water herbivorous fish that produces copious amounts of waste, are often substituted. Koi grow much larger than tilapia

Because koi and tilapia are warm water fish, according to Shultz, aquaponics is best suited for tropical for subtropical vegetables and herbs. Lettuce also grows well.

Shultz became a leading global authority on aquaponics while at the University of the Virgin Islands on St Croix. Because St. Croix has no rivers, very little ground water, extremely variable rainfall and large arid areas, according to Shultz, nearly all the island’s fresh water comes from rainwater. Aquaponics has enabled St. Croix to grow its own food without requiring large amounts of water.

When Shultz moved to Alberta’s Lethbridge College, he was faced with numerous challenges. Replicating the St. Croix system would require greenhouses and a large expenditure on heating. Shultz has is experimenting with alternate fish and plant species not requiring quite so much heat.

One interesting aspect of aquaponics, Shultz and Kleyne agree, is its scalability. It can be done inexpensively in an apartment or in a restaurant desiring to grow its own fish and/or exotic vegetables. The system is can also be suitable for large scale commercial operations. Aquaponics is becoming popular in Australia, which has few rivers and large desert regions.    
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Kleyne supports aquaponics because it is all natural, economical and solves a number of problems with no adverse side effects or large consumption of resources. Life on Earth, Kleyne explains, depends on the natural recycling of water. The more closely we replicate nature, the better off we will be. In nature, few environmental niches go unfilled. In aquaponics, there are no unfilled niches.

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Mikaylah Roggasch
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