Aquaponics is a modern farming method that aims to make it easier for people to grow crops without having to endure the costs of traditional farming. On the other hand, traditional farming has been with us for centuries. It is a trusted and reliable farming method that anyone can start with a guide from the internet.
Both methods come with their own pros and cons. In this article, we will compare aquaponics and traditional farming to determine which is best for your farming operations.
Aquaponics vs. Traditional Farming: Which is Better?
A. Aquaponics Farming
Aquaponics as the name implies is a farming method that involves water. In aquaponics, you won’t be raising just plants, but fish as well. Simply put, aquaponics combines hydroponics (growing plants with roots submerged in water) with aquaculture (rearing of aquatic animals and fish) in one system.
That is, you get to grow plants and fish at the same time in one container. In this farming method, fish waste provides plants with the nutrients they need to grow. The plants, in turn, filter the water in the aquaponic system making it safe for the fish.
The solids from the fish waste become substances used for plant growth. This balanced ecosystem has proven to be effective in helping plants to grow faster and better than traditional farming methods.
Pros of Aquaponics
Fish waste acts as a form of organic fertilizer. Unlike artificial fertilizers that contain a range of chemicals, this fertilizer is chemical-free and rich in nutrients.
Aquaponics is known to save water by as much as 90%. This is due to the fact that it recycles water, unlike traditional farming, which requires fresh water almost every day.
Depending on whether you’re a hobbyist or a commercial grower, the cost of starting an aquaponics farm would vary. However, it would still be more affordable than traditional farming.
With aquaponics, plants feed on fish feces which reduces your spending on fertilizer. In addition, your labor costs would be reduced as well as your water costs. This makes aquaponics more affordable.
Saves on Space
Depending on the type of plants you want to grow as well as the scale, your aquaponic system can be as small as an aquarium or as huge as a greenhouse. This farming method saves a ton of space which makes it easier for growers to get started rather than having to save up a lot of money for purchasing land.
Easy to Maintain
Ease of maintenance is one of the main attractions of aquaponics. Once the system is set up, you will have to take a while to maintain its pH levels and ensure that the plants get enough nutrients. When the system becomes self-sustaining, maintenance becomes easy. It would only require a few checks to ensure that the plants grow well and ripen for harvest.
Aquaponics tends to be more profitable than traditional farming due to the higher yield, less expenses on water and fertilizer, and the fact that the plants grow a lot faster in this farming method.
Cons of Aquaponics
Limited Crop Variety
Not all crops will survive when grown in an aquaponics system. There is a wide selection of crops including large crops that require a lot of nutrients and water for proper growth. Crops that flower might not also work in an aquaponics system.
Must be Installed by a Professional
Aquaponics is not the easiest growing system to set up. The complex growing system requires technical knowledge and expertise to build and maintain. If not constructed correctly, it could result in poor yield or the plants will not grow properly. In worse cases, the plants and fish can die.
Beginners in aquaponics are prone to making mistakes like overcrowding the fish tank, growing the wrong plants, and installing the wrong pipes. These could lead to huge losses in the end. Getting a professional to install the system saves you the cost of these mistakes. However, it could cost a lot to have the system installed.
Difficult to Maintain
Compared to traditional farming which only requires that you worry about the plants, aquaponics doubles down on the effort. You will have to take care of both the plants and the fish to ensure that the system remains balanced.
Just like the plants, the fish are susceptible to diseases and would have to be observed regularly. Aquaponics only becomes easier after you’ve run the system for several months.
High Cost of Electricity
While you won’t have to worry about the cost of water and fertilizer, electricity bills do pose a problem in aquaponics. Fish tanks need to maintain specific temperatures to ensure that the fish thrive.
The plants also have an optimal temperature within which they perform best. You must ensure that these temperatures remain stable throughout the growing season to ensure the success of the growing method.
B. Traditional Farming
Traditional farming is the farming system we are all used to. This involves growing crops on the soil using fertilizers, irrigation systems, farming machinery, and so on.
Traditional farming has been around for many centuries and is still very effective today.
Pros of Traditional Farming
Wide Variety of Crops
Almost every crop you can think of can be grown in a traditional farming system, which makes it a better choice for most farmers.
Easy to Start
Compared to aquaponics which requires a professional to have it installed, traditional farming can be started by anyone. The process is easy and you can start one right in your backyard with just a couple of seeds.
Aquaponics doesn’t require much attention which makes it more efficient, however, it means fewer people would be employed. When it comes to traditional farming, more hands are needed, giving many jobs to people.
Cons of Traditional Farming
High Costs of Production
On a large scale, traditional farming is extremely expensive. It is also more expensive to manage. This is one of the areas where aquaponics systems are more favorable.
Environment and Health Hazards
Many opponents of traditional farming claim this farming method brings a lot of pollutants to the environment, such as the byproducts of the manufacturing process of fertilizers and chemicals.
Fertilizers and Pesticides
Fertilizers and pesticides need to be continuously sprayed on crops to ensure they grow well and produce a good yield. However, these chemicals tend to be harsh and could become hazardous to humans and animals who consume the crops.
Aquaponics vs. Traditional Farming: Which is Better?
The choice between both systems would depend on the type of farmer (DIY or commercial) and the crops being cultivated. Presently, there are more benefits as well as cons to using aquaponics. This easily makes traditional farming a more favorable option.
Overall, aquaponics is a better choice for farmers living in big cities with no access to arable land.