What is the history of aquaponics?
Even though aquaponics represents big revolution in today’s agriculture and many see big future in it, it isn’t a novelty. It has rich history with natural nations. It was known by Aztecs for example. Read the history of aquaponics.
Aztec Indians in Middle America were probably the first who has used principles of combine breeding fish and growing plants. Crops were grown on artificially built islands Chinampas in lakes in Mexican valley. Farmland created this way was watered by shallow lake water, which was rich with nutrients. On these rectangle fields they were growing corn, tomatoes and beans and were fishing in canals in between them. Some of those artificial islands were preserved to nowadays and are on the list of UNESCO. In old China they have used carps and catfish to fertilize rice fields.
Present term aquaponics probably originates from the 70’s. Aquaponics as a combine system of breeding fish and growing plants was discovered by American aquaculture f armers, who were looking for solutions to lower their dependence on large amounts of fresh water for their breeding and to use the waste water for growing plants. Fish are traditionally bred in half-open offshore farms on the coasts of all seas or in freshwater ponds; however aquaponics originated from so called Recirculating Aquaculture Systems (RAS). Their advantage is that fish can be bred in larger amounts and in lower volume than in natural reservoir. Disadvantage of those intensive systems is fast accumulation of waste, which have to be released back to watercourses. Polluted water from these fish farms has to be replaced with the fresh one. This breeding consumes a lot of fresh water and releases lots of nutrients, which burdens the environment. Many kinds of filtrations and various water plants were tried for cleaning and reduction of water consumptions. Later we went to plants planted in inert substrate like for example sand or gravel. It was found that this system is also good for growing various edible plants.
The beginning of aquaponics is most often connected with work of Dr. Mark McMurtry at the North Carolina State University. In 1969 he has established the New Alchemy Institute, where he dealt with various concepts of permaculture growing. At about the same time doctor James Rakocy has created and examined an aquaponics system as his doctor’s work at the Auburn University in Alabama. After finishing his studies, he has moved to the University of the Virgin Islands in Caribbean, where he established aquaponics research program for breeding Tilapia. In 1997 James Rakocy and his colleagues invented the first big aquaponic system using the so called rafts, thus floating plates with planted vegetables in shallow tanks connected with fish tanks. Until then plants were only grown in some type of substrate, through which the water flew through.