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The term aquaponics is used to describe a wide range of different systems and operations, greatly varying in size, technology level, enclosure type, main purpose, and geographic context (Junge et al. 2017). The first version of the classification criteria for aquaponic farms included stakeholder objectives, tank volume, and parameters describing aquaculture and hydroponic system components (Maucieri
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Fig. 21.3 Classification criteria for identifying aquaponic farm types
et al. 2018). Additional work was undertaken by a large group of researchers to further define aquaponics and to present a nomenclature based on international consensus (Palm et al. 2018). This led to a comprehensive discussion on system types and scales and most importantly a definition of aquaponics which is: "the majority (> 50%) of nutrients sustaining the optimal plant growth must derive from waste originating from feeding the aquatic organisms." However, both definitions focus on the growing systems and do not consider other essential aspects of a functioning commercial aquaponics farm. As aquaponic operations become part of local economies, classification criteria identified by interdisciplinary research in fields like architecture, economics, and sociology will also become essential.
This classification proposal focuses on the emerging field of commercial aquaponic operations through the lens of the built environment. The key characteristics that describe an aquaponic operation fall into four different categories: growing system, enclosure, operation, and context (Fig. 21.3). These categories for classification criteria impact one other across scales, where growing system configurations can affect the contextual performance of the farm as a business, or local market demands can determine the type of crop grown in the aquaponic system. Some farm classification criteria are relevant on all scales, such as "size," measured in tank volume, growing area, number of employees, and annual revenue (Table 21.1).
Table 21.1 Possible classification criteria for aquaponic farm types
table thead tr class="header" thGrowing system/th th Enclosure /th th Operation /th th Context /th /tr /thead tbody tr class="odd" tdAquaculture system type/td td Enclosure typology /td td Purpose /td td Geographical location /td /tr tr class="even" tdFish species/td td Structural system /td td Stakeholders /td td Physical context /td /tr tr class="odd" tdWater temperature/td td Envelope assembly cover material /td td Business model /td td Environmental impact /td /tr tr class="even" tdFiltration system/td td Heating/cooling systems /td td Labor distribution /td td Socioeconomic context /td /tr tr class="odd" tdFeed type/td td Light source /td td Funding type /td td rowspan=4 Social impact /td /tr tr class="even" tdHydroponic system type/td td Ventilation system /td td Marketing scheme /td /tr tr class="odd" tdCrop species/td td rowspan=2 Host building integration /td td rowspan=2 Distribution model /td /tr tr class="even" tdWater distribution system/td /tr /tbody /table