Sunday, March 17, 2013
Aquaponics on 60 Minutes in Australia
I was pleased to see that 60 Minutes in Australia did a piece on Aquaponics this Sunday. I always love seeing footage of Murray's farm, and it was cool to see the segment about the roof-top farm in Brooklyn.
On the other hand, I was a bit less enthused about the idea of growing plants in high rises using high-tech LEDs. If the business case supports it, that's great. But I don't think we're there yet.
I was pleased the other day to re-read a 2005 article by Dr. Wilson Lennard, where he discussed his findings that aquaponics is almost always more productive than chemical-based hydroponics. Beyond that, deep water culture and media-based growing systems are 20% more productive than the nutrient film technique so often used in hydroponics. This is important because so many of the farm-in-a-highrise schemes are based on hydroponics, and presume ample use of electricity to achieve adequate growing conditions.
I think the secret is to start small - at the level of individual families and communities. Grand schemes that require hundreds of thousands of dollars (or even millions) in up-front investment must first be found attractive by venture capitalists. Even then, the big money involved in such endeavors can tempt the weak and immoral among us, as sad experience has demonstrated.
Still, it's fun to see these topics being aired on major TV shows, rather than simply on gardening channels.