What the experts say.
The problems outlined in Hydroponics are all virtually none-existent in aquaponics due to the fact that aquaponic systems rely on a biological community to turn many of the problems inherent in hydroponics (otherwise known as wastes) into resources; this arrangement is opposed to hydroponics in that wastes are seen as just that, and thus are a problem! Consequently, aquaponic systems commonly outperform hydroponic systems: for further information on aquaponics outperforming hydroponics , see this article from the Aquaponics Journal:http://www.aquaponicsjournal.com/docs/articles/Greenhouse-Aquaponics-Proves-Superior.pdf .
Any grower with commercial experiance will see that the plants concerned in thee article are deficient in nutrients and that the Hydroponic plant is grown in a HOME HOBBY SYSTEM not a commercial system so how can they say aquaponics is better when they do not compare like for like.
Aquaponics is an integrated aquaculture (growing fish) and hydroponic (growing soilless plants) system that mutually benefits both environments. Aquaponics uses no chemicals, requires one tenth or 10% of the water needed for field plant production and only a fraction of the water that is used for fish culture (Aqe).
The waste from fish tanks is treated with natural bacteria that converts the waste, largely ammonia, first to nitrite and then to nitrate. The fish waste absorbed by plants is pumped to a bio-filter system as a nutrient solution for the growing plants (Grow Bed). The only external input to the system is food for the fish. Both systems complement each other as a single unit, not as separate units.This means that the fish waste is used to feed the Plants ( but not all nutrients that the plant require are in the fish waste)
Once the system is initialized the water stays Ph balanced and remains crystal clear. The water is recycled with a small amount of water added weekly to compensate for what is lost by evaporation and transpiration by the vegetables. Aquaponics is the future of home gardening and commercial fresh food production. Ask any aquaponic grower how many ltrs of water a lettuce plant uses to grow daily and they will not be able to tell you.
* Aquaponics can enable the production of fresh vegetables and fish protein in arid regions and on water-limited farms, since it is a “water re-use” system.Again this statement is the same for commercial hydroponic growing today all commercial growers recirculate the water and nutrients.
* Aquaponics is a working model of sustainable food production wherein plant and animal agriculture are integrated and recycling of nutrients and water filtration are linked.
The technology associated with Aquaponics is complex. It requires the ability to simultaneously manage the production and marketing of two different agricultural products. Until the 1980s, most attempts at integrated hydroponics and aquaculture had limited success. However, innovations since the 1980s have transformed Aquaponics technology into a viable system of food production. Modern Aquaponic systems can be highly successful, but they require intensive management and they have special considerations.
Nutrients in Aquaculture Effluent: Greenhouse growers normally control the delivery of precise quantities of mineral elements to hydroponic plants. However, in Aquaponics, nutrients are delivered via Aquacultural effluent. Fish effluent contains sufficient levels of ammonia, nitrate, nitrite, phosphorus, potassium, and other secondary and micronutrients to produce hydroponic plants. Naturally, some plant species are better adapted to this system than others.This statement says that they can grow leafy salad crops as the nutrient levels are to high in one form and not high enough in the other nutrients.
The selection of plant species adapted to hydroponic culture in Aquaponic greenhouses are related to stocking density of fish tanks and subsequent nutrient concentration of Aquacultural effluent. Lettuce, herbs, and specialty greens (spinach, chives, basil, and watercress) have low to medium nutritional requirements and are well adapted to Aquaponic systems. Plants yielding fruit (tomatoes, bell peppers, and cucumbers) have a higher nutritional demand and perform better in a heavily stocked, well established Aquaponic system. Greenhouse varieties of tomatoes are better adapted to low light, high humidity conditions in greenhouses than field varieties. Plants require a special mix of nutrients for optimum growth , as growers we give the plants the exact nutrient requirement that they desire this means nutrients delivered in ppm and as yet I have not seen an aquapoinc system that can deliver the exact nutrient requirement that the plant needs.
Fish Species: Several warm-water and cold-water fish species are adapted to re-circulating aquaculture systems, including tilapia, trout, perch, Arctic char, and bass. However, most commercial Aquaponic systems in North America are based on tilapia. Tilapia is a warm-water species that grows well in a re-circulating tank culture. Furthermore, tilapia is tolerant of fluctuating water conditions such as pH, temperature, oxygen, and dissolved solids. Tilapia produces a white-fleshed meat suitable to local and wholesale markets. The literature on tilapia contains extensive technical documentation and cultural procedures
Nutrients are absolutely critical to raising healthy plants that reach their full potential. In hydroponic systems, plant nutrients are dissolved within the water- each nutrient at a different concentration according to their importance for plant growth. It is the job of the grower is to monitor and maintain these concentrations so that they remain at an optimum level for plant growth. Nutrient levels are measured indirectly using a digital EC (electric conductivity) meter. Nutrient concentrations are maintained within the water by the regularly dissolving a ‘nutrient solution’ directly into the circulating water (bottles nutrient solution can be purchased from any hydroponics equipment supplier).Nutrients can be divided into two groups: macronutrients; and micronutrients, also known as trace elements. Macronutrients are need in relatively high quantities; micronutrients, are needed in ‘trace’ amounts. It’s worth getting to know all of them and why they are important, and essential to know how to administer and monitor them. Below is a list of all the know nutrients know to be essential for plant growth, (describing the ins and outs of all them is beyond the scope of this article though, !)
:The macronutrients: Nitrogen (N);Phosphorous (P);Potassium (K); Calcium (Ca); Magnesium (Mg); and Sulphur (S)
The micronutrients: Iron (Fe); Boron (B); Manganese (Mn); Zinc (Zn); Copper (Cu); Molybdenum (Mo); and Aluminium (Al).