In view of advancing climate change and the associated impacts, such as land loss and water shortages, innovative and, above all, sustainable systems to ensure global food production are becoming indispensable. One of these systems is aquaponics, a closed water cycle system that couples the raising of fish in aquaculture and the cultivation of plants without soil in hydroponics. In this system, the polluted water is transferred from the fish tank to the plant tank by pumps through filtration systems. The nutrients are absorbed by the plants, biologically purified and returned to the fish tank via a water treatment system. 

Aquaponics is thus one of the most sustainable agricultural production methods. Compared to conventional farming methods, it saves enormous amounts of water and fertilizer. However, a major problem in Europe is the high energy requirement. The water pumps need electricity, the plants need sufficient light, and the greenhouses need heat in winter. In order to be able to produce economically efficiently in Europe, the size of the plant also plays a role. Only large-scale cultivation makes the product from aquaponics competitive. This requires a lot of space and high investments.

The situation is different in countries of the global south. In particular, Sub-Saharan Africa and parts of Southeast Asia offer ideal conditions for aquaponic systems due to the many hours of sunshine and high temperatures, which means that they can be operated almost self-sufficiently in terms of energy. At the same time, these regions are affected by hunger and malnutrition, characterized by rural structures and poor infrastructure. Aquaponics can help improve food security here, especially in rural, smallholder structures. Challenges, however, are the lack of knowledge and financial resources to operate the facilities.  

The funding offers and measures of the last few years show that politics is already responding to these diverse problems. However, political frameworks and support will also be needed in the future to achieve sustainable, technical, efficient and ethical solutions for aquaponic systems in Europe and worldwide.

How EurA supports

With the international ZIM-Network Aquaponics, funded by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Climate Action (BMWK), EurA supports the development and implementation of innovative ideas by networking companies and research institutions. Are you interested, for example, in topics such as sustainable fish feed, animal welfare, renewable energy production or food security in African or Asian countries? Are you a start-up, an SME or a research institution from the field or do you want to get involved in the field, network with other partners and learn more about content and corresponding funding programs? Then please contact us! Further information on the aquaponics network can be found here.


Author: Dr. Caroline Dubbert

Dr Caroline Dubbert

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Dr Caroline Dubbert

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As an agronomist, it is not only a professional but also a personal concern of mine to use our remaining resources in an environmentally friendly way. I am therefore particularly pleased to be able to contribute to this as coordinator of the ZIM network Aquaponics and to get to know many exciting partners and projects in the field. I would be happy to provide you with further insights into our network. Just get in touch with me.

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