Aquaponics is a form of organic farming that uses fish and water to cultivate crops. The submerged plants filter the water and the fish provide food for the plants.
Aquaponics offers some advantages over other forms of organic farming, including near-limitless growing space and minimal need for pesticides or herbicides. But is aquaponics organic?
Aquaponics, or water-based organic farming, is a type of agriculture that combines aquaculture, or raising fish and vegetables in aquatic systems, with horticulture, or growing plants in soil.
Aquaponics systems are often more productive and efficient than traditional farming practices because they use less land, water, and energy.
What is Organic Farming
Organic farming is a type of agriculture that relies on natural methods to manage pests and diseases, as well as to improve soil fertility. These methods include crop rotation, green manure, and composting.
Organic farmers also use natural fertilizers, like animal manure, instead of synthetic chemicals. Pesticides that are approved for organic farming must be derived from natural sources, such as plants or minerals.
Organic farming is a type of agriculture that relies on techniques such as crop rotation, green manure, and composting to maintain soil productivity and fertility.
Organic farming also excludes or strictly limits the use of synthetic fertilizers, pesticides, and herbicides. Organic farming can be done on a small scale or a large scale.
Organic farmers must adhere to certain standards set by organizations like the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA).
These standards include using only organic materials for soil amendments and pest control, and not using genetically modified organisms (GMOs). In the United States, about 1% of farmland is certified organic.
There are many reasons people choose to farm organically. Some people believe that organic farming is more environmentally sustainable than conventional farming. Others believe that organic food is healthier than conventionally grown food.
Organic Farming Standards
Organic Farming Standards are important to maintain the integrity of the organic label. The standards ensure that organic farmers are following best practices and are being held to a high level of accountability.
Farmers who grow organically must meet or exceed these standards, which include regulations on how crops are grown, processed, and handled.
Organic farming is a type of agriculture that relies on techniques such as crop rotation, green manure, and composting to keep the soil fertile.
Organic farmers also use natural pesticides and fertilizers to manage pests and promote plant growth.
The term “organic” refers to the way agricultural products are grown and processed.
To be certified organic, crops must be grown without synthetic pesticides, herbicides, or fertilizers. Animals raised for meat, eggs, or dairy products must also be organically raised and free from antibiotics or growth hormones.
There are a number of different standards governing organic production around the world.
In the United States, the National Organic Program (NOP) sets the standards for organic farming and processing. The NOP is managed by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA).
The Aquaponics Process
Aquaponics is the process of growing plants and fish together in a mutually beneficial relationship. The plants provide a natural filter for the water, cleaning it as they grow.
The fish provide nutrients for the plants. Aquaponics can be done in any type of vessel, from large tanks to small barrels.
The key to a successful aquaponics system is maintaining the correct balance of water pH, ammonia, nitrite, and nitrate levels.
If any of these levels get out of balance, it can harm the fish or the plants. It is important to monitor the system regularly and make adjustments as needed.
Aquaponics is a great way to produce your own fresh vegetables and fish year-round. It is relatively easy to set up and maintain and can be adapted to fit almost any size space.
Is Aquaponics Organic Farming
The answer to this question is not a simple yes or no. Aquaponics combines two types of agriculture: aquaculture and hydroponics.
In aquaculture, fish are raised in tanks or ponds and the waste they produce provides nutrients for plants grown in water (hydroponics).
While some aspects of aquaponics may be organic, such as the use of natural fertilizers, other aspects may not be organic, such as the use of pesticides.
Whether or not a particular aquaponics system is organic depends on how it is set up and what chemicals are used.
Some people who operate an organic hydroponic system may choose to add fish waste to their plants to provide nutrients, while others may choose to use artificial fertilizer.
Since the hydroponic production method cant be certified as organic in the absence of an organic growth medium, it has long been difficult for greenhouse vegetable farmers to switch to organic farming practices (König 2004).
The following special EU regulations for horticulture products restrict products made using “traditional” aquaponics systems from receiving an organic certification:
834/2007 Regulation (12): Instead of adding soluble fertilizers to the soil, it is preferable to feed plants through the soil ecosystem.
889/2008 Article. (4): The foundation of organic farming is feeding the plants primarily through the ecology of the soil. Therefore, it should not be permitted to grow plants hydroponically, where they develop their roots in an inert solution fed with soluble minerals and nutrients.
The absence of mineral fertilizers would initially appear to be a step toward organic agriculture since aquaponics is focused on using fish sludge as a means of fertilizing plants.
The plants are grown using “traditional” aquaponics production systems, however, started employing components from soilless hydroponic technology, hence they cannot be certified as organic.
Since the aquaponics production method relies heavily on recirculating technology, it is currently not possible to obtain a full organic certification for an aquaponics system if all of the finished products are intended for consumer consumption.
Similar to this, the primary goal of organic regulations on fish density in open ponds and marine cages is to ensure that fish excrement is discharged into the aquatic environment as little as possible.
Organic production is a management strategy that incorporates biological, and mechanical approaches that encourage resource cycling, nurture ecological balance and preserve biodiversity to respond to site-specific conditions in conformity with the Act and regulations in this chapter (NOSB 2016, p. 7).
In contrast, all of the justifications for hydroponics or aquaponics being labeled as organic that can be found in Europe are likewise raised in the US.
The paucity of data on direct system comparisons that would allow for a methodical evaluation of the aforementioned drawbacks and advantages is what stands out most. For the following reasons, the NOSB decided against classifying hydroponic or aquaponic systems as generally organic (NOSB 2017, p. 70–71):
“An organic plan contains provisions aimed to enhance soil fertility, principally through the management of organic substances of the soil via correct crop rotation, tillage, and manuring,” states Section 6513 of the Code of Federal Regulations. No production or handling methods that are not compliant with organic standards may be used in an organic plan.
• § 205.200 General The natural resources including the soil, land, and water quality, must be maintained or improved by production practices used in accordance with this section.
• § 205.203 Soil fertility and crop nutrient management practice standard:
(a) “The producer must choose and use tillage and cultivation techniques that limit soil erosion and preserve or improve the physical, chemical, and biological state of the soil.” cover crops, Using rotations, and the addition of plant, animal resources, the producer must control soil fertility and crop nutrients.
In order to maintain or increase the number of organic matter present in the soil, the producer must manage plant and animal materials.
It would be better to discuss and develop aquaponics systems for the organic sector with open-minded experts and farmers who are familiar with aquaponics, organic greenhouse production, and organic aquaculture for the time being.
To sum up, there is a huge need for knowledge sharing and discussion between the aquaponics and organic niches to examine the potentials and limitations of their respective production models and come to some sort of agreement regarding whether recirculating aquaponics systems will play a future role in the organic community and what organic aquaponics might actually entail.
What would, however, validate all of the various aquaponics system designs presently in use by business owners, farmers, researchers, and communities as organic channels for consumer outreach, marketing, and sustainability objectives?
Who would gain from aquaponics receiving organic certification in the USA and Europe? Currently, both the conventional and organic agricultural regimes treat aquaponics as kind of an ugly duckling, but in the future, it may develop into a stunning, sustainable swan that is also able to receive organic certification.
Aquaponics and the Environment
The aquaponics system is a sustainable agriculture system that uses less water than traditional farming methods.
Aquaponics combines traditional aquaculture, raising fish in tanks, with hydroponics, and growing plants in water. The fish waste provides the nutrients for the plants and the plants provide natural filtration for the water.
Aquaponics does not require pesticides or herbicides because the plants help to control pests and diseases.
Aquaponics is also a zero-waste system because the water is recycled and reused. This makes aquaponics a more environmentally friendly way to grow food than traditional agriculture methods.
Organic certification: What does it entail?
Organic certification is a process that ensures products are made with organic ingredients and meet a certain level of quality.
To be certified, farms and processors must meet specific requirements concerning the way they grow, handle, and process organic food. The USDA Organic seal guarantees that a product has been produced through approved methods and that all ingredients are organic.
In order to become certified, farms and processors must complete an application and pay an annual fee. They must also submit to periodic inspections by an accredited certifying agency.
Certifying agencies look at factors such as land management, crop production, livestock management, processing, and packaging. If the farm or processor does not meet all the requirements, they may be placed on probation or have their certification revoked.
The main benefit of organic certification is that it assures consumers that they are buying a product made with organic ingredients.
The process of organic certification for aquaponics
The process of organic certification for aquaponics can be complicated, but it is worth it to have the peace of mind that your crops are grown organically. The first step is finding an accredited certifier. There are many different certifiers, so make sure to do your research and find one that is reputable.
The certifier will inspect your farm or greenhouse to make sure you are meeting all the requirements for organic certification. They will also audit your records to ensure that you are following all the rules for organic growing.
If you pass the inspection, the certifier will award you with an organic certificate. Keep in mind that the process of organic certification for aquaponics can be expensive and time-consuming, but it is worth it for those who want to sell their crops as organic.
In conclusion, aquaponics is a form of organic farming that combines aquaculture with horticulture. The plants in aquaponics are grown in tanks filled with water and fish, which act as the feedstock for the plants. The water filters through the plants and the fish, removing nutrients and waste products while providing food for the plants. This type of farming is said to be more efficient than traditional agriculture because it doesn’t rely on soil to produce crops.