It’s not a competition, but if it was…
1. Hydroponics is more expensive and less natural.
Hydroponics uses expensive chemical nutrient solutions, which are becoming increasingly expensive and due to over-mining of some of the ingredients it is getting increasingly harder to find good quality.
Aquaponics needs only fish feed as an input – far less pricey and a large bag of feed will give you several kilos of mature fish, which are able to feed several cucumber plants. To feed the same plants hydroponically would require a 5-litre bottle of solution to grow to maturity, which works out far more expensive.
2. Aquaponics saves water and time.
Due to the salts and chemicals in the solutions, hydroponic water needs to be changed periodically otherwise it will become toxic. This is not only an added cost, but it is also problematic in areas without regular water supply – such as many parts of India. Also, disposing of this waste water is not a simple task due to toxicity – it could be poisonous to natural environments.
With aquaponics, this chemical imbalance does not occur, on the contrary, an aquaponics system has the natural nitrogen balance of a true ecosystem. It is not necessary to ever change the water, only to top it up occasionally as evaporation occurs.
3. Aquaponics is easier to maintain.
A hydroponic grower needs to check the Electrical Conductivity with a special meter every day, or every few days at the very least. Due to the natural balances within an aquaponics system, it only needs a pH and ammonia check once a week, and a nitrate check every month.
4. Aquaponics grows more produce
A 2005 study by the Crop Diversification Centre in Alberta, Canada showed that once the aquaponic biofilter is fully established, after 6 months a grower will see faster and better growth as compared to hydroponics.
5. Aquaponics is 100% organic.
When you set up an aquaponics system, you are creating a natural ecosystem that largely runs on its own. Hydroponics in contrast, is a more sterile operation requiring the careful application of nutrient solutions. If such chemicals were used in aquaponics, the fish would die, so it is organic by necessity.
We are certainly not condemning hydroponics – it is an incredibly useful and remarkably effective technique. However, as the earth demands more natural and sustainable solutions, as well as healthier food, aquaponics is a slam dunk!
These 5 points have been adapted from Sylvia Bernstein’s wonderful book ‘Aquaponic Gardening.’
Aquaponics in India will soon be offering consultancy services. Please get in touch for more information.