In iAVs, the soil organisms are, in Star Wars parlance, “the Force.”
Comprising amoeba, bacteria, fungi, nematodes, protozoa and various arthropods (and even earthworms), they keep the water clean and the fish healthy – and facilitate the plant growth through virtually uncountable interactions.
Without a viable soil ecology, and active plant growth for the extraction of elemental inputs, the fish are not going to survive – much less grow rapidly – in any integrated system. For practical purposes, however, integrated aquaculture is overwhelmingly about the plants. The fish are simply a means to the end. Plants are where the food value is – and the financial value, too. Harvesting fish is a bonus to be had for playing the entire game without fouling out.“
The notion of plants being the main game has become part of current aquaponics thinking but it is derived of iAVs – the progenitor of all other ‘aquaponics systems’. iAVs has always approached integrated aquaculture from the plants’ perspective.
With iAVs, the fish growth aspects are completely integrated into horticulture production rather than just tacking some plants onto a recirculating aquaculture system in the interest of achieving tertiary water quality improvement.
And, let’s not kid ourselves, growing lettuce is not the same as growing fruiting plants…..and iAVs was designed to produce fruiting plants – although leaf crops and herbs are also viable when not produced exclusively.
Therefore, iAVs considers all operational aspects (parameters) from the soil organism’s and plant’s ‘point of view’ – not fish considerations first, foremost, much less only. With iAVs, so-called ‘aquaponics’ is dominantly horticulture, not aquaculture. If one provides ideal/proper conditions for rapid bio-conversions and excellent plant growth, then the fish will be/do fine.
If not, the fish are probably stunted, unhealthy or dead anyway, so what’s the point?
If what you want to do is mess with plumbing, pumps, valves, various filtration techniques, and to monitor fish-related parameters, then stick with recirculating aquaculture (RAS) and forget about ‘ponics’. If what you want to do is make fish as ‘happy’ as possible, then leave them in their native habitats.
If you are not already savvy in regard to botany or have little knowledge about gardening – and the conditions that vascular plants need to thrive – then learn best practices in advance of reliance on plant growth for extraction of nutrient from a media (or other) biofilter.
Mark’s view is that the vast majority of aquaponic enthusiasts lack understanding of the needs of plants – particularly flowering (fruit-bearing) species.
Furthermore, he is of the opinion that this is one of the primary reasons that aquaponics has not become a commercially viable force in global food production strategy.
The aquaculture component provides the fertilizer source materials to be ‘processed’ by the soil organisms. At best, the fish production aspect represents but 10% of the potential production value – most probably less when ‘done correctly’.
In other words…..
iAVs is ‘Organic Horticulture’……first, second and third.