Introduction of Aquaponic farming in India
Aquaponics farming is a resilient farming system that offers wellness and better nutrition. It is a sustainable method of growing both fish and vegetables. It is becoming quite popular with individuals, entrepreneurs, educators, missions, and governments interested in modern farming. Moreover, with this type of indoor farming, you grow considerably more food with less water, land, and labor than the traditional farming systems. Aquaponics is a form of farming that unites raising fish in tanks (recirculating aquaculture) with soilless plant culture (hydroponics). In aquaponics, the nutrient-rich water from the fish supplies a natural fertilizer for the plants, and the plants help out to purify the water for the fish to survive.
A step by step guide to Aquaponic farming in India
Aquaponics can be employed to raise fresh fish and vegetables for a family, to give food to a village, or even to generate profit in a commercial farming business enterprise, year ‘round, in any environment. Aquaponics is a great technique of year ’round, indoor farming. It can be carried out anywhere, providing fresh food that is free of pesticides, herbicides, and chemical fertilizers.
Aquaponics is a sustainable technique of organic agricultural practice that comprises of a symbiotic combination of aquaculture and hydroponics system. While aquaculture represents the breeding, rearing, and harvesting of fishes and other aquatic organisms, hydroponics involves a system of growing plants without soil by using mineral nutrient solutions in a water solvent.
So, when these two different practices are pooled, the benefits consist of the plants feeding on the discharge or waste of aquatic organisms as they maintain the water clean for the fishes. In addition to this symbiotic dependence, there is also an opportunity for microbes, which play a very significant role in the nutrition of the plants, in this space.
Benefits of Aquaponic farming in India:
- Yield about six times more per square foot than traditional farming.
- Aquaponics makes use of 90% less water than traditional farming.
- With the aquaponics system, one can grow any time of year, in any weather, anywhere.
- Because aquaponics recycles the water in the system, we can grow in droughts prone and areas with little water availability.
- Fewer pests since we are growing indoors.
- No headache of weeding
- For the commercial growers, aquaponics provides two streams of income, fish, and veggies, rather than just one.
- aquaponics farm does not have a need of farmland with fertile soil, or even land with soil; aquaponics can be constructed just as successfully on the sand, gravel, or rocky surfaces, which possibly will never be used as conventional farmland.
In case if you miss this: NABARD Schemes for Fish Farming in India.
Water Conservation: Water and nutrients are recycled in a closed-loop manner that conserves water.
Energy Conservation: Even with grow lights, less energy is consumed than conventional commercial farming. All energy utilized in aquaponics is electrical, so alternate energy systems such as solar, wind, and hydroelectric can be used to power an aquaponic farm.
Land Conservation: aquaponics system grows approximately six times more per square foot than traditional farming. Even abandoned warehouses can be used for establishing the system saving money, energy, and other valuable resources.
Health & nutrition
Fish are the best ever converter of plant protein to animal protein which is utilized in this system.
Fish have no growth hormones, no mercury, no chemicals or pesticides
Plants grown in aquaponics are safe and do not have any kind of chemicals
Aquaponic farming business plan in India
To have a successful aquaponic farming business plan the primary reasons for starting an aquaponic farm must be clear. Documenting your motives for starting the farm will assist you to focus the business plan and recognize the issues, the resources, and the expertise that will be needed to develop the business plan.
Aquaponic farming at home in India
Aquaponic farming at home can be successfully done you just have to research well about it constituents here we are giving all necessary information about the aquaponic system, suitable aquaponic fishes and aquaponic plants keep reading.
The media bed technique of aquaponics makes use of containers packed with rock media such as gravel or expanded clay (hydroton) to support the roots of plants. The bed is flooded and drained of nutrient-rich water to give the plants the nutrients and oxygen they need. The growing media used to support the plants plays the role of both a mechanical and biofilter to confine and breakdown wastes.
This is an inexpensive, simple to put together and productive at a small scale. Because the media supports plants like soil would, you are able to produce large root mass plants such as fruits, flowering plants, vegetables, and root vegetables. Because the media is not space-efficient and requires considerably more inputs of labor, media bed designs are hard to scale into commercial use.
DEEP WATER CULTURE (DWC)
Also recognized as raft or float systems, this system uses floating rafts to suspend plant roots into nutrient-rich and aerated water. The developing plant’s roots are suspended directly into a pool of water approximately 1 foot in depth. Since there are no media to detain and process solid wastes, filtration techniques must be incorporated into the design. This requires more advanced aquaculture techniques and system requirements, leading to higher upfront costs. The method can be utilized in various ways such as floating foam rafts on top of fish tanks or pumping water from the fish tank to floating rafts with plants floating on water surfaces
This design is suitable for commercial aquaponics production as it is the most stable of the three system types. Since there is much more water in the system, drastic nutrient and temperature fluctuations are much less likely to occur. It is best matched for warmer climates because although it would resist daily temperature swings, heating the water in colder climates is costly. In addition, larger root zone plants can be grown, and removing plants is much easier than in media beds.
NUTRIENT FILM TECHNIQUE (NFT)
These aquaponic designs are popular in the commercial industry because of their space efficiency and lower labor costs. Because crops can also be grown on a vertical plane (or shelf), they are easily reachable and harvestable. Most admired with hydroponic production, this method is best suited for leafy greens. This design is not suited for large fruiting plants as their root masses can clog up the channel and their weight may not be supported.
Aquaponics fish types
Fish are one of the chief components of an aquaponics system and play an essential role in the aquaponic system as they will be the source of natural fertilizer for the plants. Fish supply food and fertilizer for your plants, so it is imperative to plan which types of plants you want to grow and pair them with the right type of fish species.
- Fish availability in your location
- What fish is legal in your location?
- Fish Type and Maintenance Difficulty
- Size and Space Requirements
- Filtration Capacity
- Fish Diet
- Breeding Habits
Fishes suitable for aquaponic farming in India
Fast growth rate (about nine months from fingerling to harvest)
Trout prefer colder water and thrive in temperatures ranging from 56 – 68 °F making them ideal for a cooler environment.
Catfish are one of the best-farmed fish and are popular for their taste. Catfish are bottom feeders and valuable scavengers that can withstand a wide range of water conditions. They are not territorial and easy to breed and raise. Catfish thrive at a similar temperature to tilapia 75 – 85 °F and require a pH of 7 -8.
Bass thrive in a water temperature of 65 – 80 °F and pH of 6 – 8. Bass can be harvested within one year from fingerlings making it desirable aquaponic fish.
- Types of Bass
- Large-mouth bass
- Hybrid striped
- White bass
Salmon are well known for their taste and health benefits hence it is a desirable fish to raise in your aquaponics system. They require a large fish tank to thrive and take about two years to reach full size before harvesting. The favorable water temperature for salmon must be between 55 – 65°F and with pH in the range of 7 – 8.
- Ornamental fish
Ornamental fish such as koi and goldfish are also a good choice, especially if you are only starting your system and want to test it, in the case you are not interested in utilizing fish as a food source, and varieties of ornamental and pet fish must be available in the market of your region.
Koi is one of the most admired ornamental fish raised in aquaponics. Koi have a long lifespan and can breed and survive comfortably within the aquaponic system. Koi can sustain many types of food and are also disease and parasite resistant. They thrive on temperatures of 65 – 78°F and pH level of 6.5 – 8.
Goldfish is an excellent ornamental fish for aquaponics that is easy to take care of. They are a tough fish species that can live in a high level of water pollution. Goldfish have a preference for temperatures of range 78 – 82°F and prefer a pH range of 6 to 8. Because of their small size and parasitic nature, goldfish are not edible.
Vegetables suitable for Aquaponic farming in India
The plants that are compatible with hydroponic systems will also be compatible with aquaponic systems in most cases since aquaponics is a type of hydroponics. Leafy green vegetables and herbs are most commonly and most successfully grown in the aquaponic system. Cucumbers and tomatoes are also often grown but might be a bit too advanced for a beginner opting aquaponics.
You may also check this: Vegetable Farming Profit Per Acre, Model Project Report.
Consider the following factors before you select plants for the aquaponic system;
- What type of system you are going to use.
The system could be a media-based, NFT, raft aquaponics system. These will decide the type of root structure that plants tend to have. Plants with less root structure will grow well in floating rafts; while root vegetables grow well in grow beds.
- Consider the requirements of your plants.
As a rule of thumb, the more similar your plant’s requirements to the requirements of the fish in your system, the superior they will grow. Select plants and fish that have similar needs as far as temperature and pH level are concerned since the closer they match the more success you will have.
The amount of sunlight, temperature, and rain are all significant in growing a healthy plant. If you make a decision to grow outdoors, prefer a variety of vegetables that will grow best in your climate.
You could always make use of a greenhouse or grow indoors, but you need to research and find plants that do well inside with limited or artificial light. It is best to choose a plant that thrives in your climate, as this will also lower the electricity charges in maintaining your system.
Most commonly grown plants among experienced producers are:
- Leafy greens
- Swiss chard
- Bok Choy (Pak Choi)
- Radish sprouts
Plants to grow in an established aquaponics system
Different plants have different nutritional requirements, and your aquaponic system needs to be established to maintain plants with higher nutrient demands. A well-established system consists of all the beneficial bacteria necessary. A well-established aquaponics system is an arrangement that has been running for at least 6 months and up to 3 years.
These are the plants that grow well in an aquaponics system but requires higher nutrient needs and can be grown with some experience of aquaponics farming.
Tomato plants do exceptionally well in aquaponics systems. Tomatoes like warm weather but also need plenty of nutrient-rich water. Tomatoes are an excellent option for an aquaponics system where the environment can be controlled and where support system like trellis is planned for its vining growth habit.
Cauliflower plants call for very little maintenance. They are also resistant to most bugs and diseases. Cauliflower is a water-based plant that grows very well in aquaponics systems.
Cabbage requires very little maintenance, which makes it one of the best plants in an aquaponics system. They grow well in water with a pH level between 6.2 and 6.6.
Peppers can be challenging to grow in traditional gardening, but it is one of the best plants to be raised in your aquaponics system. Peppers are very specific about the water that they consume and they have need of plenty of sunshine. Growing peppers using aquaponics permits you to monitor, and manage your nutrients in the water and lets you produce the perfect environment for your pepper plants.
Strawberries necessitate very little space to grow and are quite easy to cultivate in an aquaponics system. Strawberries are one of the best plants to grow in aquaponics for the reason that there is a constant supply of nutrient-rich water and the ability to monitor and control the system environment. Another advantage is that you can grow them all year round in an indoor system.
In case if you are interested in Terrace Hydroponic Gardening.