What better way to raise vegetables on a large scale than to employ fish? Well, a better way to say it is fish “waste”. Students at Roosevelt High School are learning all about it! Aquaponics is a system that uses fish wastes to provide the nutrients that hydroponically raised vegetables utilize while at the same time filtering the water that is essential to raise those same fish.The same water is recycled continually from plant roots to fish tank while the process is operation. The only water that typically needs to be replaced is that which is lost through evaporation.
Right now, many Downriver gardeners are beginning to reap the fruits of their labor.
But Roosevelt High School botany students are growing garden plants without putting their hands in soil, nor do they worry about how much or how little rain Mother Nature delivers.
Although growing plants in greenhouses is nothing new, the way these students grow plants may be a new concept even to veteran gardeners.
In her first year at the school, teacher Jennifer Ferris engaged her students in a process called aquaponics. Not to be confused with hydroponics, which involves cultivating plants by placing their roots in liquid nutrient solutions, aquaponics utilizes fish, which fertilize plants with their waste.
The school’s botany class also grows plants using hydroponics, but aquaponics is the method that seems to draw the most attention and interest.
“Everyone who visits the greenhouse thinks it is super neat,” Ferris said.
In a nutshell, aquaponics offers a recirculating environment of plant and aquatic systems. The fish eat food and release their waste, which becomes fertilizer for the plants.
“The plants in return clean the water and remove wastes that are harmful for the fish,” Ferris said. “The plants grow without soil and the roots just grow into the fish water.”
The aquaponics system was built during the past school year by adult volunteers Jim Snyder and Bob Johnson, as well as botany students. Aqua Growers, a Livonia-based company, created the blueprints for the system and the students and volunteers built the system using the plan.
Johnson is no stranger to the botany program. The retired Roosevelt High School teacher continues to lend his expertise to agriculture students and was officially hired as FFA adviser this past school year. He served as a mentor to Ferris in her first year at Roosevelt. To read the rest of the article click here now.
Aquaponics is an age old process that has been upgraded with modern equipment and technology has been rediscovered just in time for a hungry world.