Many people ask us why, if Aquaponics is so great, is it not more common on a commercial scale like hydroponics. Well, this question is not new and likely will continue to be asked for the mid-term until more traction is gained in growing the field. But there are many reasons this breakthrough has not yet been achieved.
One, is the complexity of a closed loop living system which has a complex mix of inputs and parameters that change as fish grow, temperatures change, and plants mature. Hydroponics growing can be tightly controlled with set inputs and automatic controls because the inputs are chemical based and not from a living system. More variables change in Aquaponics making automation and standardization a bit more complex. But Hydroponics has its drawbacks as well, often inputs are mined chemicals and minerals from India and China that are non-renewable and experiencing global shortages due to new environmental controls. So even though they have many benefits that outweigh conventional farming techniques – they too will face challenges moving forward to sustain their inputs.
Investments are required for R&D in these areas to optimize and standardize these elements to gain efficiency and repeatability. But we believe this is a barrier that can be overcome – similar to that of living cell culture production which received millions in research due to their use in Biotechnology based medicines. Today these living systems are common practice and used at large scale all over the world. While Aquaponics will likely not get the kind of funding Biotech Cell Culture received, we can learn from these other industries and partner with universities to continue to build on a solid base of knowledge already within the Aquaponics community.
Second, is the lack of standardization. Despite heavy efforts within the community, there is little alignment on standard practices in Aquaponics, and in fact, lots of conflicting information. In all my research and training, I have yet to see a single system that is the same between one farm to another. While it is exciting to see all the innovation and people building on each other’s knowledge and trial and error, it is also creating a major challenge with scalability. Rigorous documentation and standardization of processes and procedures is required to prove the most effective techniques, which can then be scaled and proven at all levels of production. We at Greater Greens are committed to being part of this journey and using our combined skill sets to further the Aquaponics movement and help bring it into a modern era and give it the attention and credit it deserves.