Aquaponics is growing crops without soil by using nutrient rich water which is created by Fish.
The Fish put nutrients in the water due to their waste. This water is then pumped through 'beds' of pebbles, Pumice or in our case Lava rock. The crops are planted in these beds where they act as a natural water filter removing the nutrients (fish waste) from the water so enabling them to grow. The cleaned, oxygenated water is then pumped back to the fish so reducing water wastage.
|The initial stage of the trial- Rucola is growing.|
We used Three broken Jacuzzis, some sections of old rubber 'dam liner' offcuts, some sections of old water pipe, a fibre glass basin from a diving boat. The Jacuzzis were tiered so that gravity fed the water from one to the other circulating the water. The top two Jacuzzis were stocked with Tilapia fish, the lower one was planted with Rucola (Rocket) and Watercress while cherry Tomatoes were planted in the Lava filled slipway that flowed into the fibreglass boat basin. From here the water is pumped back up to the top Jacuzzi twice a day.
|Lava rock used as a substrate|
As this was very much a trial we were expecting to have a couple of failures as we tried things out (like the Lava rock), amazingly we had early successes. The Rucola we tried out in the Jacuzzi took very well, as did the Watercress. The Tomatoes did less well due to too much moisture we believe.
|Our first harvest from the repurposed Aquaponics system|
So what next? We want to see if there might be a local market (people who want Tilapia) around Diani and Ukunda.
Then we 'upscale'- MORE fish in bigger tanks growing MORE vegetables. We hope that we can share the knowledge and experience that we have with the local communities and organisations so that others can start farming fish (and vegetables) so earning from more sustainable farming methods.
The Long term plan? Have enough Farmed fish happening in Kwale County so that it can take some reliance off the ocean so allowing fish stocks and the currently overfished nurseries to recover.. leading to more fish and more a brighter future for both people and the environment. (Sustainability)
|Our first 'FRESH' Sale to a food Kiosk nearby, Ksh 100 per fish!|