In an attempt to attract new generation farmers, the Agricultural Research Centre of Kerala Agricultural University (KAU) at Anakkayam near here has decided to try its hand at aquaponics – an ancient method of farming vegetables and fishes together practised by ethnic groups in Mexico and China.
The centre has successfully cultivated tomatoes, cabbages, cauliflower, chilli and paddy via the soil-free method in which fish excreta is used as fertilizer. In fact, it began a second round of cultivation two weeks ago. Aquaponics is a portmanteau of words aquaculture (fish farming) and hydroponics (growing plants without soil).
Researchers at the centre used 12 units made of PVC pipes in which vegetables are grown. The units are placed inside a polyhouse situated close to a pond that holds about 3,000 varieties of fishes. The saplings or seeds are planted in small disposable fibre vessels filled with sponge-like pith particles of coconut husk. The vessels are then placed on small holes in PVS pipes. Water from the pond, carrying fish excrement is always circulated through the pipes and the plants grow in a hydroponic bath of flowing water enriched with minerals.
Farm officer at the centre E Jubail said the method is ideal for farming in populated areas and is cost effective. “No chemical fertilizers are used in the method as it would kill the fishes. This ensures that the crops are organic,” he said, adding that the method does not call for the use of pesticides and consumes less water compared to traditiional farming methods.
The plan is to introduce the method to farmers and visitors at the centre besides providing provide assistance to set up the system at their farmhouses.
source: http://www.timesofindia.indiatimes.com / The Times of India / Home> City> Kozhikode / by T P Nijish, TNN / July 02nd, 2014