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US (NY): Ithaca College expands hydroponics and aquaponics systems

Ithaca College’s student-run hydroponics and aquaponics systems are receiving materials to improve and expand within the next few months.

Paula Turkon, assistant professor in the Department of Environmental Studies and Sciences, oversees seven undergraduate student researchers who maintain the hydroponics and aquaponics systems in the Center for Natural Sciences and the hydroponics system in Terrace Dining Hall.

Materials have been ordered to expand the systems into the greenhouse from the growing room in CNS, Turkon said. The greenhouse allows for more natural light and space for additional crops, she said.

Turkon, who has experience performing archaeological research in Mesoamerica, was inspired by floating gardens called “chinampas.” Chinampas are a traditional Aztec agricultural method that requires a plot of fertile land to float on freshwater lakes.

“Aquaponics is actually a modern technological version of a prehistoric technology,” Turkon said. “It’s this continuous process that’s adding nutrients to the soil. The soil is supporting the plants and cleaning the water as well.”

Turkon learned about aquaponics from Miles Crettien ’09, who co-founded VertiCulture, an aquaponics farm in New York City. Turkon also received guidance from local aquaponics farmer Steven Austin in the system’s beginning stages.

Read more at The Ithacan (Emily Snyder)

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