The best organic farming always is when you know how to use nature as it is.

As our knowledge of the harmful effects of agricultural chemicals grows, more and more farmers and consumers are rediscovering their organic history, returning to the methods of old, such as plucking insect pests and weeds by hand and hoe, and amending soil with natural fertilizers—compost. The joy in growing your own food is the joy in savoring its delicious flavor and in providing good food for others to enjoy. Discover how to rebuild your garden with an organic foundation and produce the vegetables, fruits and herbs that will nourish your family and the families of those who purchase your produce.
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Bring Sustainable Agriculture to the Desert with Aquaponics

There are a number of factors to consider before growing plants in a desert climate. Primarily, one will want to be concerned with the nutrient levels in one’s soil. Although a good quality organic/compost will usually meet your soil’s needs, the best way to determine levels suitable for desert vegetables and flowers is to have the soil tested. Access to water and irrigation of edible plants and flowers in the desert is crucial. When growing desert vegetables and flowers, a drip or soaker hose irrigation is considered the best and least expensive option.

While startup costs can be pricey, maintaining an aquaponic system costs relatively little in comparison to soil-based agriculture, hydroponics (raising plants in water with added nutrients), or aquaculture (raising fish alone). Typical expenses, such as irrigation and hydroponic fertilizers, are minimized or eliminated with aquaponics due to the symbiotic nature of the operation between fish and plants. Moreover, by recirculating water that is not used by the plants, aquaponic systems can conserve over 90 percent of the water traditionally used in soil-based agriculture and aquaculture.

Aquaponics systems are exceptionally efficient, producing more vegetables per square foot than other forms of agriculture, while the environmental impact is much lower. As a self-contained system, it requires no use of chemical fertilizers, eliminates the possibility of soil born pathogens and uses only 10% of the water consumed by conventional agriculture. Depending on the system’s size and design, it is possible to grow up to 10,000 fish and up to 43,000 pounds of vegetables per year.

 Aquaponics in the desert

Jabber Al Mazroui has succeeded in building one of the world's largest aquaponics farms in the desert climes of the United Arab Emirates. He hopes aquaponics can boom, but local farmers are proving slow to adjust. Jabber Al Mazroui peers over the edge of a massive cylinder full of tea-brown water and hundreds of tilapia fish.The 55-year-old entrepreneur manages one of the world's largest aquaponics farms.

The facility relies on a relatively new agricultural method that uses the water in which fish are bred to provide irrigation and nutrition to a wide array of plants. This process saves a lot of water – making it especially relevant in arid regions like the United Arab Emirates where Al Mazroui's 4,000 square meter farm is based. His manmade oasis is located off of a quiet desert road about 20 minutes from Abu Dhabi's city center. Al Mazroui developed the site just last year, but he has already begun to reap the fruits of his labor.

The system uses water more efficiently than a conventional system. Its tanks contain 400,000 litres of water, which can be used for a year or two before it needs to be replaced. Even the energy is expected to go green in the future, as the centre has plans to use sun and wind power to operate the system's pumps. A year after it was set up, the aquaponics centre has started to sell salad crops to supermarkets across the UAE and there is also market for its fish.

Aquaponics in the desert

Aquaponics is the combination of raising edible fish in tanks and hydroponics. Fish waste is converted into plant food by naturally occurring beneficial bacteria. The fish provide nutrients for the beneficial bacteria and plants, while the plants “clean” the water for the fish. In an aquaponic system, you rarely have to worry about watering or fertilizing your plants. The systems can be designed to automatically replenish water lost from evaporation, and the most common additive (chelated iron) is rarely needed.

Telipia is known in the food business as ‘aquatic chicken’ because it breeds easily and tastes bland (not fishy), tilapia is the perfect factory fish; it happily eats pellets made largely of corn and soy and gains weight rapidly, easily converting a diet that resembles cheap chicken feed into low-cost seafood. Water is not lost into the ground. It’s simply circulated through the system, so the only water you lose is to the plants and a small amount of evaporation.

Fish produce waste high in ammonia that is pumped into the grow bed, where bacteria process the ammonia into an extremely rich fertilizer high in nitrogen. Plants in the grow bed extract nitrogen from the wastewater, making the water safe to return back into the fish tank. The same water flows through the system over and over as both fish and plants mature. In fact, an aquaponics garden uses 90 percent less water than a standard in-ground garden.

 Aquaponics in the desert

Pacu Jaya

Pacu Jaya

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