Berrysmith Foundation

Aquaponics vs Hydroponics

The Berrysmith Foundation’s involvement in the Aquaponics Project is completed with the investment leading to an aid project in the Cook Islands which was a feature of the 2012 Pacific Leaders Forum. The Foundation has handed back the Aquaponics facility to Tasman Bay Herbs. Ashley’s mission to prove that Aquaponics is a financially viable and sustainable method to grow food is now complete.

The Aquaponic Ventures Ltd trial at Tasman Bay Herbs site in Motueka, Nelson has had some interesting results so far. Since the early stages of the trial, the aquaponic herbs and salad greens have grown at the same rate, or faster, than their hydroponically grown competitors.

The last direct yield comparison test was carried out in February. The aquaponic growing system grew 6 out of 7 varieties of head lettuce over the same growing period to a significantly larger final harvest size than the hydroponic system. Results that are worth celebration!

Pythium, a root infection commonly found in Hydroponic systems seems to be less of an issue in the aquaponic system to date. It is far too soon to tell conclusively whether aquaponics controls pythium, but results so far are encouraging! The aquaponic greens have shown more resistance to pythium than the hydroponic greens, even after the hydroponic sump was completely dumped and replaced with fresh water & nutrients.

One challenge of the aquaponic system is the balance which must be maintained in the system to ensure correct nutrient levels. Hydroponics allows for more system flexibility, such as if harmful bacteria enter the system, it can be flushed and new chemically enhanced nutrient water put in the system immediately (as mentioned with the Pythium infection). If an aquaponic system were to be flushed, or sprays used, it would take up to three months to build up the correct nutrient levels. This means that with aquaponics, strict health and safety policies must be strictly adhered to, to avoid contamination. The system can not be cheated!

Overall the trial is going very well, with all of the project milestones to date having been achieved and very encouraging results as to the viability of aquaponics for commercial food production. We are hoping these positive results will continue!

Aquaponics Trial

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