Development of Aquaponics and Aquafeeds Systems
The project aims to develop, optimise & demonstrate integrated microalgae cultivation in conjunction with aquaponics and/or hydroponics in an environmentally friendly, renewable and sustainable process.
One of the greatest societal challenges is feeding an increasing population sustainably, while at the same time reducing the environmental impact. Re-using nutrients (nitrogen and phosphorous) and more efficient use of water are highly relevant for future development of bio-production systems in general.
Food production is dependent on the use of phosphate and nitrate, and both products are considered as waste products in animal production systems. The project aims to characterise concepts and dynamics for sustainable bio-production using closed recycled cultivation systems, specifically aquaponics.
The project will investigate and optimise mechanisms behind utilisation and turnover of nutrients in different bio-production systems (fish integrated with plants and microalgae). The microalgae serves as a feed ingredient for the fish, substituting unsustainable fishmeal. The algae is applied either whole or as an extracted protein.
The use of whole algae for seafood farming is well established, but there appears to be no commercial use of algae protein extract in such applications. It is anticipated that the technology, designs and formulations will be licensed to SMEs locally, with the opportunity of international licensing as well.
Microalgae are an excellent source of protein for animal feeds and act as an organic or biofertiliser. Microalgae can also utilise the ammonia excreted by fish as nutrients for their growth, and in the process clean the water.
A simple, low-cost algae cultivation design has been developed alongside the aquaponics system. The system is particularly suited to Spirulina cultivation and can be integrated with numerous other applications (not only aquaculture). The systems are well-suited to community, charity and social projects as well.
Changing food consumption patterns in emerging economies, coupled with an increased global need for sustainable raw materials for non-food products, are leading to an increased demand and competition in the agriculture sector. In addition, global challenges such as climate change, natural resource degradation, rural exodus, low vocational education, the pressure of the international market and a lack of resources are putting considerable pressure on agri- and aquaculture and the food system to adapt to the changes.
The project addresses the world requirement for increasing amounts of fertiliser and feed for food consumption, as well as the treatment of water from aqua- and hydroponics systems.
Brian Tait, Candace Davison