There's an

Aquaponics- integrating aquaculture
with crop production
“There’s an aquaponic solution to every food problem”
Andrew Chambi
Founding Director of Aqua Roots
Presentation Overview
Issues in food production
Agriculture industry, Aquaculture, Increasing
food production
How it works, Economics of aquaponics, Case
for aquaponics, Existing models of
Types of aquaponic systems
Deep Water, NFT etc, System components,
Models, Versitility
Some Examples
Aqua Roots’ background
Global agriculture industry
• Decreasing resource
• Arable land available
per capita decreased by
40% between 1960 and
• Water demand
increases by 64 billion
cubic meters/year;
• agriculture accounts for
71% water withdrawals;
• By 2030, 47% of global
population will be
living under severe
water stress
Global fisheries & aquaculture
• Fish very important source of animal protein –
especially in low-income food-deficit countries
• Fish consumption has many health benefits:
• Low fat, high protein content
• Essential Omega 3 fatty acids
• Vitamins D and B2
Global fisheries & aquaculture
• Challenges to aquaculture industry
• Environmental degradation through water discharge
and escapes
• Water supply and energy requirement
• Biosecurity
• Fishmeal based aquaculture feeds
Fish/rice culture
• Over 2,500 year old technique
from India and Asia
• Rice provides a habitat for fish
• Rice helps purify the water
• Fish eat insects and circulate
• Fish provide nutrients for rice
• Crop diversity – cereal grain and
fish, crustaceans and water fowl.
At least 2000 year old technique
Relevant in places with stored
irrigation water for terrestrial crops
One way flow of water
Water is used twice – once for fish,
and once for plants
Fish wastes fertilise the water –
enhancing growth of downstream
Presence of fish reduces pest and
parasite organisms - mosquitos
How aquaponics works
• Aquaculture waste becomes hydroponic nutrient
• Hydroponic component removes nutrients and
filters water
• Clean water returns to fish rearing tanks
• Recirculating aquaculture system (RAS)
Water efficient
Supports high stocking densities
Requires high level of water filtration and treatment
Creates nutrient rich effluent stream
• Hydroponic plant production
Water and space efficient
Does not require “agricultural land”
Allows complete control over plants – no weeds!
Nutrients supplied to plants in solution
Can create dangerous, high mineral content waste
Economics of aquaponics
• Plant growth the major component.
• Uses 10% of the water of soil agriculture per unit crop
• Low maintenance and management time requirement.
• Domestic systems can contribute greatly to food security
and household economies
• West bank study revealed AP system could produce food with a
value 30 - 50% of the average daily salary in WB/Gaza
• Increases the variety and quality of food available
• Commercial systems enable significant revenue generation
from “by-products”
– Daily 1kg fish food  700g fish mass  8 lettuces harvested
Case for aquaponics
• Space efficient
• allows high stocking and planting densities.
• Water efficient
• closed loop recirculating system.
• Clean
• zero discharge; all waste processed and used on-site.
• Crop diversity
• Plant and fish production.
• Biological system
• no chemicals allowed.
• Versatile
• can be implemented on micro to massive scale.
• can make use of “non agricultural” land.
System components
Fish tank(s)
Water pump
Air pump
Flood and drain
• Optimal growbed depth – 30cm
• 3 zones: wet zone, tidal zone and dry zone
DWC / floating raft
• Plants grown on floating sheets (styrofoam)
• Roots in aerated water
• Water depth 20-60cm
• Constant depth – continual flow
• Roots can “suffocate” if water is not well filtered
prior to DWC growbed
• Best suited to production of small, leafy crops
• Favoured commercial technique
Strawberry towers
• Not just for strawberries!
• Plants grown in vertical
• Volcanic rock, clay beads,
foam strips
• Water trickles from top to
• Continual flow
• Towers may clog if water
is not well filtered
Wicking beds
• Hydroponic soil growing?
15cm “wicking” reservoir at base
20-30cm soil on top
Water moves up into soil by capillary action
Continual flow OR no flow
• Suitable for a wide variety of crops – including root
System examples - mini
System examples - mini
System examples - large
System examples - large
42 days later…
Aqua Roots Background
History & Future
• Setup by a team with a diverse background
• Six years successfully implementing domestic “backyard” and
commercial systems in the UK, the Middle East and Africa.
• Teaching and lecturing mainstream science and community
• Aim to implement community based, high production systems
in the UK.