I'm into sustainable ecological aquaculture, and I can't seem to escape from academia. I am passionate about aquaponics and there is the potential that this year I will get the opportunity to start up a semi-commerical, temperate aquaponics research facility. This industry/food-system is sorely lacking in legitimate, peer-reviewed research. Some of the work that has been done to date is fantastic, but much of it has been devoted to system design and development, and the rest is helpful but moslty anecdotal.
So, the question goes out to you guys: what questions do you think need to be answered to help the industry? Are there issues that plague your farm/business? Questions that you would love to have the time and resources and scientific background to look into but instead are focused on managing your business? Maybe it's economic, biological, chemical, infrastructure ideas, social issues....ideas ideas ideas.
The classical topic of which fish fits which plant in heat, ph, and nutrients.
Is it possible to make a nutrient solution from fish excrete? If so you can mix-match fish and plants that don't have the same needs for survival and use excess fish material. This would also be highly marketable as fisheries need to pay taxes (in many countries) for their pollution (fish excrete and other materials).
Economically, it would help helpful to have some empirical data on how large a system must be to be commercially feasible. I'd also like to see research on uses of alternative energies, especially as it relates to sustainability in developing and third-world countries where access to energy is an obstacle in creating aquaponic systems.
You're correct that peer-reviewed research is lacking. Would be great if you could help change that.
The Question that keeps rambling around in my mind is concerning nutritional density in the food and I would expect for the fish as well. With the only external input to the food production being the fish food, how do we measure and manage the optimum nutrition of the vegetables grown, ie minerals, micronutrients and trace vitamins. I know we can do bricks tests to see comparative levels, however how do we assess fairly and accurately the total nutrition?
This would be amazing and really beneficial for the AP community. I have a small lab that I am growing comparative methods of growing, raft, nft, tower, media and now building a multi-media bed.
Any help I can offer, let me know.
Just wondering how you were going with your research? I am also doing research on aquaponics, looking at how users of home based systems can help research via a citizen science project. Basically they keep an on-line diary, recording data that they and scientists can use for research. It on www.ourresearch.net if you want to have a look.
But in general I am interested in the type of research that happens, so am very curious as to any responses that you received.