Evaluating Alternative Nutrient Sources in Subsistence-Level Aquaponic Systems
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Many food production methods are both economically and environmentally unsustainable. Our project investigated aquaponics, an alternative method of agriculture that could address these issues. Aquaponics combines fish and plant crop production in a symbiotic, closed-loop system. We aimed to reduce the initial and operating costs of current aquaponic systems by utilizing alternative feeds. These improvements may allow for sustainable implementation of the system in rural or developing regions. We conducted a multi-phase process to determine the most affordable and effective feed alternatives for use in an aquaponic system. At the end of two preliminary phases, soybean meal was identified as the most effective potential feed supplement. In our final phase, we constructed and tested six full-scale aquaponic systems of our own design. Data showed that soybean meal can be used to reduce operating costs and reliance on fishmeal. However, a more targeted investigation is needed to identify the optimal formulation of alternative feed blends.