California State University, Sacramento is assisting their local community with their aquaponics program. Aquaponics is the combination of aquaculture and hydroponics. Hydroponics is the growing of plants by replacing soil with water. The basic concept of aquaponics is that fish and other aquatic animals produce waste which is then converted to nutrients for the plants. Through aquaponics, two crops, animal and plant, are yielded instead of one.
The program at CSUS is led by Dudley Burton who is one of the university’s environmental studies professors. Professor Burton and his students who take part of this program work closely with the Sacramento Food Bank and the Oak Park Sol Community Garden where they demonstrate and encourage the use of aquaponics. They also use the program as a teaching tool to demonstrate key principles of sustainability, linkage between waste management and waste production, and energy and water conservation.
“Some of our systems are designed to use only as much water as the plants require,” said Professor Dudley. “So it’s really energy and water conserving.”
California is well known as a farming state and is also, unfortunately, currently facing an historic drought. Although aquaponics heavily relies on water as one of its essential components, it uses substantially less water than traditional agriculture does. The water that is used is recycled, and goes through a closed system repeatedly. Some of the systems at CSUS are designed only to use as much water as the plants require, making the aquaponics method highly efficient for both water consumption and energy use.
Although the program is fairly new, created just over a year-and-a-half ago, Professor Dudley and student members of the aquaponics program are working on the expansion of the program’s relationship with CSUS. Their future plans include working with the food services on campus to share the edible products from their aquaponics program with on-campus restaurants. They’ll also be expanding in a direction where they can process all of the campus’ bio-waste such as food waste, brown waste (leaves, sticks, etc.), and green waste into energy. The program has a lot of room to grow and is continuing to make it their goal to share their knowledge with the community.
For more information about the aquaponics program available at CSUS, visit: http://www.csus.edu/envs/news/urban_ag.html