History Of Aquaponics | Where Did Aquaponics Originate?
OK so now you’re asking why should learn about the history of aquaponics and what has it got to do with me?
Well, as an 8 year veteran of aquaculture I believe having an understanding of where aquaponics began will allow you a rare appreciation of this organic food producing technique others simply don’t have.
With your greater appreciation of the history of aquaponics you will be able to build on solid foundations as your advance your aquaponics knowledge. Slowly building up your confidence and permitting an increased chance of success when it comes to building and maintaining your own system.
A History of Aquaponics – Where Did It All Begin?
There are two schools of thought when it comes to “who invented aquaponics? The first camp argues for the Aztecs who grew crops on artificial agricultural islands in harmony with fish who were reared alongside these islands where the architects of aquaponics.
They used the “fish poop” to fertilize the crops and called their system “chinampas”. In their aquaculture system they grew a wide variety of crops such as maize, squash and other plants in tandem with rearing fish for food too.
The Aztecs were immersed in their aquaculture efforts from the 1400’s onwards. The opposing camps in the history of aquaponics camp favor the ancient Chinese of the 6th century.
The counter argument is 6th century Chinese farmers who reared ducks in cages with partially open floors positioned above a pond of finfish were the founders of aquaculture.
The farmers also reared catfish in another pond into which water from the finfish pond would be drained. In this arrangement the finfish were fed with duck droppings whilst the catfish were fed with the waste from the finfish.
Then any “leftover food” was used to supply the nutrients to the rice in the paddy fields. This seems like perfect harmony to me and it’s why the Chinese get my vote as founders of aquaponics.
A History of Aquaponics – How Did We Get To Modern Aquaponcs
What we view today as aquaponics dates back to much more recent times. In 1969 a couple who are heroes of mine John and Nancy Todd along with William McLarney founded the New Alchemy Institute.
Their ground breaking idea was to build a “proto ark” which would be a self-sufficient, solar powered bio-shelter that would allow a family to survive year round using holistic methods to grow vegetables, rear fish as well as provide shelter.
A History Of Aquaponics – The 1980’s
Next we move on to the 1980’s where Mark McMurtry and Prof. Doug Sanders produced the first acknowledged “closed loop” aquaponics system.
In Sanders and McMurtry’s system effluent from fish tanks was used to “trickle-irrigate” cucumbers and tomatoes grown in sand beds that doubled up as bio-filters. In this system the water drained from the sand beds flowed back into the fish tanks.
A History Of Aquaponcs – The Early 1990’s
Then we move on to the 1990’s where Tom and Paula Sperano revised the McMurtry and Sanders system to create their “Bioponics” concept. The Speraneo’s grew vegetables and herbs in ebb and flow gravel grow beds which were irrigated by nutrient rich water from a 2200 liter tank containing Tilapia they were raising.
Tom and Paula were the first to use gravel grow beds effectively in an aquaponics system. Their system was seen to work and be productive and was replicated throughout the world by keen enthusiasts looking to grow crops and rear fish in organic harmony.
A History of Aquaponics A Conclusion
Well I wanted to give you a brief overview of how aquaponics came to be. The history of aquaponics is an interesting one and it is possible to research further.
The Aquaponics timeline I have given you is the accepted trajectory for how we got to where we are today with modern aquaponics.