The increasing awareness of limited land and water resources, coupled with an interest and desire to grow food sustainably, has led people across the country, and here in New Mexico, to look more closely at aquaponics as a strategy to address these issues.
Aquaponics is an integrated food production system that combines aquaculture, the cultivation of aquatic animals, and hydroponics, the growing of plants without soil, in a recirculating system.
New Mexico State University’s Extension, in collaboration with Santa Fe Community College and Sanctuary at ABQ, is hosting an introduction to aquaponics workshop from 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 2, at the Bernalillo County Extension 4-H Building, 1500 Menaul Blvd NW in Albuquerque.
Registration is $40, lunch will be provided. Payment is due by Oct. 25. Register online here or call 505-243-1386. The workshop is limited to 60 people. A waiting list will be available.
“This workshop will teach people how to set up an aquaponics system, how to grow fish and plants, and the importance of water quality, as well as permits, safety and other unique aspects of an aquaponics growing system,” said John Garlisch, NMSU Extension agricultural agent in Bernalillo County. “A tour of an aquaponics greenhouse will be included.”
Workshop presenters will be Rossana Sallenave, NMSU Extension aquatic ecology specialist; Charlie Shultz, lead faculty in the aquaponics and controlled environmental agriculture program at Santa Fe Community College, and Pedro Cordero Casas, an instructor in the aquaponics program at Santa Fe Community College.
“The fish and plants are cultivated together in a recirculating ecosystem that utilizes natural nitrogen-fixing bacteria to convert fish/aquatic animal waste into plant nutrients,” Sallenave said. “The waste products of the aquaculture system serve as nutrients for the hydroponic system.”
With such a combined recirculating system, there is no need to discard any water, and plants obtain most of their required nutrients without the need of added fertilizers, making it both sustainable and environmentally friendly.
Aquaponics systems require only about one-tenth of the water that would normally be used in traditional agriculture, making such systems particularly attractive in water scarce regions of the country, such as New Mexico.
“There has been an increased interest in aquaponics in New Mexico,” Sallenave said. “This workshop will provide the participants with a good overview of aquaponics as well as the necessary information that they need to consider prior to undertaking this method of agriculture.”
The afternoon portion of the workshop will include a tour of Sanctuary at ABQ’s greenhouse and aquaponics system, led by its director, Danny Lilly. In addition, there will be demonstrations on how to build a system and how to monitor water quality.
Source: New Mexico State University