Our greenhouse is designed to be more sustainable and produce a more natural and healthier product. Along with using an aquaponics system, the greenhouse has a water collection system, solar power and a geothermal system for eco-friendly heating and cooling.
Aquaponics is a combination of aquaculture, which is growing fish and other aquatic animals, and hydroponics which is growing plants without soil. Aquaponics uses these two in a symbiotic combination in which plants are fed the aquatic animals’ discharge or waste. In return, the vegetables clean the water that goes back to the fish. Along with the fish and their waste, microbes play an important role to the nutrition of the plants. These beneficial bacteria gather in the spaces between the roots of the plant and converts the fish waste and the solids into substances the plants can use to grow. The result is a perfect collaboration between aquaculture and gardening.
Benefits of aquaponics:
1) Aquaponics is a way to grow your own fish and vegetables at the same time. You feed the fish and the fish will feed your plants through their waste output.
2) There is no need to use fertilizers because the fish provide rich nutrients for the plants.
3) In aquaponics, less water is used for the crops. Research has shown that aquaponic gardens use 1/10th of the water you would use for soil garden.
4) Regular gardening pesticides or other chemicals can’t be used because they would harm the fish.
5) This results in healthier and organic vegetables.
6) You won’t experience any soil borne diseases in aquaponics because there is no soil.
7) You can grow plants in very small space, and have a great harvest.
8) Plants grow fast because they get very nutritious substances from the fish waste.
9) Plants and fish production can be done in a controlled temperature environment.
10) Water is used in a closed system and circulated effectively, reducing the consumption and the water bills.
Rain Water Collection
The greenhouse is equipped with a "dry" rainwater collection system. A ‘dry’ system is essentially a larger version of a rain barrel. A dry system uses a large storage tank that is placed close to the greenhouse for water to flow from the gutter pipes directly into the storage tank. This is called a dry system because the collection pipe is “dry” in between rainfalls, as the water flows straight into the tank. With (2) 5,000-gallon polyethylene tanks, we will be able to provide water for the entire farm on an annual basis.
The main benefit of a dry system is how simple it is. The pipes run directly from the gutters to the tank, emptying themselves in the process, with minimal maintenance required.
To minimize our annual costs and to be more eco-friendly, the farm will be using a 20kw solar powered system. We should be able to have all our electrical needs taken care of by this system. The solar array will be attached to the roofs of the greenhouse directly above the fish tanks and classroom areas so as not to block the sun from our raft bed systems.
Geothermal Heating and Cooling
Geothermal heating and cooling systems are the most efficient and environmentally friendly systems on the market today. These systems work differently than conventional systems by taking advantage of the sun’s solar energy that is absorbed and stored by the earth. Pipes in the ground circulate a water solution and carry energy to the heat pump in the winter for heating and remove heat from the building into the ground in the summer. Forced air or low temperature hydronic systems distribute geothermal heating and air conditioning. Most systems use electric heat pumps capable of increasing the ground’s thermal energy in the winter and concentrating and depositing the a building’s thermal energy into the relatively cool ground in the summer when air conditioning.
With the addition of solar powered fans to circulate the heat and air, the greenhouse should be able to maintain 70-78° year round.
Our aquaponics system was custom designed by The Aquaponics Source. They are one of the leaders in designing and building aquaponic systems that are specifically tailored to your needs. Whether for a small/large scale farm, an educational facility or for your own personal use, they are the ones to call. Visit their site today to learn more about the fascinating world of Aquaponics!
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