Aquaponic farming in Romania
Snagov Foundation and Aquaponic farming in Romania
Aquaponic farming is how farmers can grow fish (aquaculture) and vegetable (plant growing on the water) in the same recirculation system and water recycling. This method of growing fish and vegetables began to be practiced by the Aztecs BC.
Currently, aquaponic farming is practiced by some NGOs in America, being less common in Europe. In Romania, the system of producing organic foods has been adopted by a small number of people.
An example is the Snagov Foundation, who initiated such a pilot project to see how effective is an aquaponic system. "Our goal initially was to test if something grows, and the products obtained can be consumed," said Constantin Turmac, ther president of Snagov Foundation.
So, for aquaponics was achieved with an investment of 15,000 euros, a small pond with about 30,000 liters of water on Lake Snagov, where are grown various species of plants, fish, frogs and insects.
In the two years of experiments were conducted recycled water systems, using gravel filter placed in plastic trays. So they made two cultures (one in spring and one in autumn). In this period they planted lettuce, peppers, hot peppers, cabbage, tomatoes and eggplant. Plants grown in water finally gave fruit. Vegetables obtained were not the best looking but were tastier than what can be found in the Romanian hypermarkets. In last winter, NGO representatives have built over the pond a small greenhouse where they planted lettuce on about four square meters. Results were very good.
President of the Foundation contends that he has the resources to expand this project, so the next time will produce more. "Experts say that for the water that we have in the pond we could support a vegetable garden area of about 300 square meters. And if we cultivate intensive with fish, we could increase up to four times the size for plants. And if we had a night light solar, plants could grow twice as fast, "said Turmac.
Aquaponic farming as family business
According to analysts, aquaponic agriculture is a solution to produce both on small scale for families and on large scale for farmers. It's a small investment activity in which you can learn more and you could also had your family involved. You get natural vegetable and fish and you will come to understand how vegetables which you find in stores are grown in an artificial way.
The investment for the construction and operation of such a system depends on the varieties grown and the climate. A small aquaponics greenhouse, of 1,000 liters, where can grow on average 22 perches, would cost 2,000 euros. To this is added the cost of operation, which would be about 280 euros for each production cycle (about 6 months).
If we are talking about a business, a greenhouse of 2,000 square meters would require an investment of 300,000 euros. This business would be profitable if there is a sale provided for products made in this way. At the same time, there is the risk that retailers won't accept organic vegetables that are not having a pleasant appearance.
How an aquaponics system works?
An aquaponics system component is aquaculture, which implies the existence of a pool of fish and its growth. In the pool, fish have fresh water and food to develop. After a while, the water in the pool will be filled with feces and waste from the fish feeding. This water full of organic waste is treated with microbes and beneficial bacteria, which convert waste into nutrients for plants and after that the water passes into the hydroculture system, which is the second component of the aquaponics.
Through the hydroculture system, plants and crops are grown in nutrient-rich water that passed to the cultivation of vegetables area from the fish tank. For a while, the water is used by plants that consume nutrients from it and fill with vegetable waste. Consuming nutrients from water by "layers" of vegetables cause the water to become again usable for fish, so it is pumped back to the fish tank and recirculation process starts again.
An aquaponics system operates continuously under water recycling and recirculation between fish pond and hydroponic layers, thereby minimizing the requirement for water or fertilizer.