Growing Crops in the Desert
We are entering a new era where farming techniques and laborious tasks can be greatly improved and enhanced with the help of necessary technology. Aquaponics helps farmers save costs, increase yield, and even improve health and sustainability of the farm itself. Not only that, but anyone can do it!
One of the many fascinating aspect of aquaponics farming is the ability to control environmental and other climatic conditions. It can be adjusted to suit the optimum plant growing conditions. The integration of a successful aquaponics system in the deserts is possible, and several companies have been involved in establishing aquaponics agriculture and being made sustainable. One of the world's largest aquaponics farm with hundreds of tilapia spp fish and a fish tank filled with tea-brown water has been successfully built by Jabber Al Mazroui in the United Arab Emirates.
Industrial aquaponics has proven to be a viable option in the Middle Eastern deserts, but there has been a challenge facing the local farmers to adapt to the system to enhance food production for the world's growing population. In the desert water is extremely important, but it is a non-issue because an aquaponics farm is able to save more than 90% of the water used in traditional farming.
Maximizing the full potential of aquaponics in the desert regions can simultaneously combine fish production with the cultivation of fruit crops like watermelon, tomatoes, broccoli, lettuce, aubergine, cabbage, and cucumber. A well-functioning 4000-square-meter farm can produce over 1,200 heads of lettuce per day.
A major benefit of aquaponics is not solely water conservation for sustainable production in desert regions but also with the increased production of organic food products which are free from chemical inputs, no synthetic pesticides, and fertilizer application. It is just a simple arrangement using water and recycling fish waste into useful organic mineral supplements.
The viability of an industrial aquaponics system depends on its acceptance by farmers utilizing conventional and traditional farming methods.
A Desert... Why Aquaponics?
Farming in the deserts encounters many challenges as the arid climate, drastic temperature changes and poor soil conditions create problems for the cultivation of arable crops. It can take a whole lot of time to convert desert soil to nutrient-rich soils, and desert farming consumes too much water which is not even readily available. Hence, the need to focus on aquaponics as a better alternative to desert farming.
Extreme fluctuations in temperature from heat during daytime to cold during the night would make greenhouse aquaponics viable to artificially manipulate climatic conditions to suit the requirements for successful plant growth. In a greenhouse, the environment could be adapted to the type of plants to be grown. The plants are protected from too much of sunlight and heat compared to outdoor situations.
The poor topsoil and water scarcity can be overlooked because the aquaponics system will mimic the soil and generate organic nutrients from fish wastes while also recycling the water by traveling from the fish tank to the plants and back to the tank. When the water arrives back to the fish tank it is clean and ready to be re-used instead of thrown away.