Innovations in fish farming are allowing producers to recycle their water using plants. Some of them even building greenhouses to support aquaponics systems to grow fish and plants in the same water. Here is Cooperative Extension Aquaculture Specialist Dr. Jackson Gross.
Gross…”There's a few commercial farms that exist across the state. One of the farms that I work closely with, they have a very large greenhouse, and before they were utilizing water hyacinth and a large pond to help treat their water. Our industry here in California, I would say over 80% of the water is recycled water, so it's less than 20% is renewable water, and so that water moves through the system. They were using water hyacinth to help clean the water. Like, why are we growing water hyacinth? Why don't we grow more food? And so they started looking at that as a way to clean the water as well as produce more food from those nutrients.”
I had heard reports that aquaponics was difficult to execute at scale due to keeping a delicate balance between fish needs and plant needs. Not true, says Dr. Gross.
Gross…”We can farm aquaponically just like you would farm hydroponically. And so it's just using a mineral rich fertilizer solution to raise our crops. So it can be done in soil, it can be done soil less, but it's that biological nutrient solution that's applied to these plants and how you choose to do it.”
The work with sturgeon farms started as a conservation effort and has now led to these sophisticated systems growing fish and plants for food. Pretty cool.