Let’s start copying nature in aquaponic design

“The truth is, natural organisms have managed to do everything we want to do without guzzling fossil fuels, polluting the planet or mortgaging the future.”

Janine Benyus

red belly pacu for growout

Current design philosophy

Aquaponic design of today is focused on taking care of the living parts and not much attention is played to the user friendliness or looking at better ways to implement the things we find in nature to the best of our advantage. I call the current style of aquaponics first generation because it is designed to work and that is it I don’t believe that it takes full advantage of the information available to us in order to build better my efficient aquaponic food production systems.

wicking bed of coco coir and arugula

Biomimicry and bio assisted processing is not the same thing

The answers to all our problems that can be found in Mother Nature but what we are doing now it to copy certain processes and apply them to aquaponics in isolation rather than first looking at how it works within the whole ecosystem of aquaponics

commercial greenhouse in aquaponics

Farming is not found in nature

Farming is the one idea that separates humans from the rest of nature and is the reason that we can build civilizations. The accepted view point is that we fight Mother Nature to grow food but the principals adopted by aquaponics. Aquaponics can do more to harness the power of the ideas found in nature to put towards growing nutrient dense food at high volumes for a relatively small space. Industrial agriculture has reached the upper limits of food production but the cost of inputs are very high aquaponics offers a way to reduce the cost of inputs and keep the high production.

DIY aquaponic pump controll panel

Mother Nature is made up of 5 Biomes

They are 5 major biomes aquatic, desert, forest, grassland, and tundra. Each of them provides a specific function in the total life cycle of earth yet each of them also contain their own life cycle but we can harness the power of each of these or parts of them in aquaponics to create a self sustaining eco system that spans from microscopic algae to terrestrial plants. The good this about designing is that we can take a small part of an biome and recreate it to be a large ratios of our aquaponic system. Green water can be used to produce an alga that feeds algae eaters. We can also use live filtration and black water rivers to control pH.

original research and development of aquaponics

Aquaponic design rest in ratios

The individual processes that come together to form aquaponics must be held within the correct ratios for the whole system to work effectively. To minimize wastage each process should be the correct size. Each process is housed in a component and will have an effect of the whole. This often causes a problem with growth of the overall size of the aquaponic system. In order to keep overall growth constant you must maintain the ratio of each process this can be easily done by using one standard size of each process that way you can change the amount of a process by adding a component and also adding the same amount of component to each of the other processes involved. For example; add a fish tank you will have to add a grow bed and a filter.

original research and development of off grid solar powered aquaponics

Root zone biomes

Water as a root zone is not found in nature supporting the production of nutrient dense food that humans can consume this is usually done by terrestrial plants, this is because of the diffusion rate of water. Water has lower oxygen content that air and loses oxygen so fast and evenly that if we are to use it this way we will have to heavily supplement the water with oxygen in order to grow terrestrial plants and support the life in the root zone that requires a substantial amount of oxygen to survive. In our aquaponic design we should utilize different root zones in order to grow our crops as the different stages of plant growth can play a factor in how will our plants respond. Example the energy required to grow in sand is better for germination over the growth of leafy greens which is more suited to deep water culture

Conclusion

We have done aquaponics for ten years and it has lead to the discovery of using natural design principals in new ways to produces even more effective food production for us as a whole this has lead to a new form of aquaponics that we are calling second generation aquaponics because it considers to needs of the users as well.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Equal parts technology enthusiast, carpenter, kitchen designer, farmer, capitalist, domesticated father and tree-hugger, I dissected and negotiated myself into a life that brings me both pleasure and pain upon coming to the realization that I cannot save mother earth from Human nature and my only recourse is to do more good than harm through Aquaponics. All of my work can be found here in these 12 main and the supporting pages I use to valiantly put forth this hypothesis.

Damian HInkson