New aquaponics facility to feed Stellenbosch hungry

2014-09-26 14:39
Aquaponics produce from the Stellenbosch University research facility. (Photo: Henk Stander)

Aquaponics produce from the Stellenbosch University research facility. (Photo: Henk Stander)

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Cape Town – A new aquaponic research facility launched at the Stellenbosch University will further understanding of the technology as well as combat hunger in the Stellenbosch community.

“The technology will be researched using four different fish species (Tilapia, Catfish, Carp, and ornamental fish) and these will be combined with different varieties of plants for optimal yields,” general manager of the Division of Aquaculture, Henk Stander, told News24.

Aquaponics seeks to optimise agriculture using the mutual benefits that fish and plants can provide for each other within a controlled system.

Fish faeces provide nutrients like phosphate and nitrogen to be used by plants, which in turn clean and filter the water to be reused by the fish (see diagram below).

According to Stander plant varieties will be selected according to the needs of a Stellenbosch feeding scheme, the Stellenbosch Feeding Action (SFIA).

“Produce will include a variety of herbs, veggies, and salads and we will try to propagate plants with a high nutritional value.”

The SFIA currently delivers almost 12 000 plates of food to 4 000 people in the Stellenbosch community.

The facility contains, amongst other equipment, four 2 800 litre fish tanks and 44 growth beds.

Stellenbosch University masters students will use the facility to do their research and conduct research into aquaponics.

An exchange student from Belgium will be the first postgraduate student to use the facility in 2015 and will focus on identifying appropriate plant varieties for use in aquaponic facilities.

The system cost R250 000 and took approximately two weeks to assemble.

(Diagram: Sustainable Aquaponics)

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Read more on:    stellenbosch university  |  cape town  |  research

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