Aquaponics is the productive practice of combined fish and plant growing, which uses a percentage of the water and energy that is consumed in conventional soil-based agriculture.
To educate the general public about best practices for setting up home-based systems or larger commercial-scale aquaponic farms, the national Aquaponics Association will host three days of presentations and tours of small and large-scale operations at the 2013 Aquaponics Association Conference at the Loews Ventana Canyon Resort in Tucson, Arizona from September 20-22, 2013.
“Aquaponics has broad appeal because it meets basic needs such as food security and food safety, self reliance, sustainability and water conservation, while creating a pleasing indoor environment to grow your own fresh and healthy food year-round,” said Gina Cavaliero, Chair of the 2013 Aquaponic Association Conference and owner of Green Acre Aquaponics, a commercial aquaponics farm in Brooksville, Florida.
Using a nutrient enriched water supply, aquaponics integrates two symbiotic growing methods: aquaculture or fish farming, and hydroponics, growing plants without the need of soil.
In aquaponics, water is re-circulated in a constructed system that mimics a dynamic pond-like eco-system. The result is a balanced and self-sustaining environment that utilizes natural bacterial cycles to convert fish waste to plant nutrients.
The technique produces higher yields of plants per square foot with 10 percent of the water used by conventional soil-based growing methods by recycling 90 percent of the water which continually circulates through the plant growing bed and back to the fish.
“Aquaponics is popular because growing systems are scalable to meet the needs of both the home grower wanting to feed her family with organic produce and fresh fish without concerns about mercury and pesticides, to a commercial-scale aquaponics farmer producing food sustainably for retailers and helping to eliminate food deserts,” said Cavaliero.
This year’s third annual conference will lead of with keynote speakers Joel Salatin of Polyface Farms in Virginia, the author of eight books including The Sheer Ecstasy of Being a Lunatic Farmer, and Max Meyers of Nor Cal Aquaponics in California, Executive Director of the Mendocino Ecological Learning Center.
Tucson Mayor Johnathan Rothschild has proclaimed Friday, Sept. 20 as Aquaponics Day. Mayor Rothschild will hold an opening ceremony at the Conference on Sept. 20th at 6 pm.
For more information about Conference workshops and tours and to register online, visit the Conference website at: http://www.aquaponicsassociation.org.