Aquaponics as a farming method helps with water preservation. This method recirculates fish tank water through grow beds in a process that effectively reduces the amount of water used on farming by 90% compared to traditional farming methods. In light of global water scarcity, aquaponics makes it possible for farmers to maximize production of fish and crops with minimal water resources.
Why Preserve Water?
Though 70% of Â earth is covered by water, just about 2.5% of this is fresh water; ideal for human use. The remaining water is ocean or saline water. Out of the fresh water available only 1 percent is accessible to people because the rest is caught up in snowfields and glaciers. Most of Earths freshwater occurs in permafrost and ground ice form.
Every living organism whether plant or animal needs water to survive. Unfortunately, this important resource is finite and is becoming scarce at a high rate. Though water gets recycled through the water cycle, the rate at which fresh water is being used today is higher than its replenishing rate. Rivers and lakes are drying up due to climate change while demands for industrial, domestic and irrigation use are on the rise.
Water Usage Categories
Agriculture accounts for about 80% of water usage in the U.S and over 90% in most Western States. This makes the sector a leading user of surface and ground water in the U.S today. According to the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS); irrigation, thermoelectric power and public supply are the leading water usage sectors in the US. In 2010, these three sectors accounted for at least 90% of water usage volumes in the US.
The withdrawal of water for use in these sectors is heaviest in the states of California, Idaho, Texas and Florida as shown in the map below. California leads the pack having accounted for 11% of total withdrawals in all these categories in 2010, according to the USGS.
According to USGS, freshwater withdrawals for irrigation purposes accounted for 38% of total withdrawals. An estimated 62,400 acres were under irrigation in 2010. 83% of water withdrawals for irrigation purposes occurred in western states, with California and Idaho states leading the pack.
Thermoelectricity and irrigation are the leading consumers of ground and surface water; 98% of thermoelectric water withdrawals find their way back to the system while most of water withdrawn for irrigation gets used up. Even so, the amount of water withdrawn for use in irrigation reduced by 5% in 2010 compared to 2005. The US Department of Agriculture attributes this reduction to efficient water and irrigation management including the use of less costly supply systems. As reflected by the graph below, withdrawal of freshwater from different sources was highest in the 1980’s.
Aquaponics maximizes the natural relationship that exists between crops and fish, significantly reducing the use of fertilizers which have a negative effect on the soil and groundwater. Aquaponics enhances production by utilizing nutrient-rich water from fish tanks, that would ordinarily go towards growing crops traditionally.