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Hydroponics & Aquaponics

It is believed that one of the ancient wonders of the world – The Hanging Gardens of Babylon
were actually based on Hydroponics

 

The modern version of an ancient concept

Literal translation from Greek -

Hydro = Water  &  Ponos = Working

 

Now an intensive way of farming without soil.

 

Types of Hydroponic technology

 

Gravel Nutrient Film (GFT)
Crops are ‘planted’ into shallow layers of gravel.
The gravel holds the roots and prevents evaporation.

Deep-Water/Raft Systems
Crops grown at high density in “rafts” floating in tanks of fertilizer solution.

Nutrient Film Technology

Crops are ‘planted’ into plastic ‘channels’ of gutters where the roots hang freely in a shallow layer of water.

Why the necessity  and urgency to introduce

Hydroponics into the mainstream food

Production in Africa?

With the dwindling water resources, vast areas of in arable land and persistent adverse weather conditions, added to rapid population growth and urbanisation.......

 

Africa as a whole is fast losing the battle to maintain Food Security.

 

Only sophisticated Agricultural Production methods can address that problem!

 

The benefits:

Water:

The various Hydroponics and Greenhouses
are designed to use water as efficiently as possible.

For, up to 100 times the field-yield on certain crops, less than 10% of the water usage is needed.

Only the water absorbed by the plants is used.
Water – saving features:

 

Electricity & Energy – saving features:

 

Hydroponics
Aquaponics

The next logical step in technology, also with ancient roots.

It is said that the ancient roots of Aquaponics were in China, when rice farmers noticed that there was in improvement in their crop performance when there were Carp or Catfish present in their irrigation canals.

It took many centuries, and only relatively recently was there a handful of practitioners and scientists who explored the subject, and started quantifying it to begin the commercial use of this ancient practise.

 

Aquaponics is the combination of Aquaculture and Hydroponics, in a symbiotic relationship.

The effluent from the fish production part, is a perfect source of fertilizer for the plant production part, and the plant production is an efficient filtration system.

The technical reality of commercially exploiting this rather
‘simple’ system is far more complex than one would like to believe. Even though there are many  enthusiasts whose systems have produced very well, without the sound understanding to the principles and the science behind it, the successes are likely to be erratic, and the systems do not run at their full potential.

Brief explanation of the concept.

Aquatic animal effluent (for example fish waste) accumulates in water as a by-product of keeping them in a closed system or tank (for example a re-circulating aquaculture system).The effluent rich water becomes high in plant nutrients but this is correspondingly toxic to the aquatic animal.

Plants are grown in a way (for example a hydroponic system) that enables them to utilize the nutrient rich water. The plants absorb the nutrients, reducing or eliminating the water’s toxicity for the aquatic animals.

The water now clean is returned to the aquatic animal environment and the cycle continues. Aquaponic systems do not discharge or exchange water. The systems rely on the natural relationship between the aquatic animals and the plants to maintain the environment. Water is only added to replace water loss from absorption by the plants or evaporation into the air.