Forget Everything You Thought You Knew About Nitrification

Developed by Dr. Mark McMurtry and a group of researchers from NCSU, the Integrated AquaVegeculture System (iAVs) presents a scientifically validated, efficient, and user-friendly alternative to traditional aquaponics.

This article explores how iAVs revolutionizes our understanding of nitrification, improving nutrient availability and simplifying pH management.

The Conventional Wisdom of Nitrification in AP

In traditional AP systems, nitrification is a fundamental process where ammonia from fish waste is converted into nitrite and subsequently into nitrate by nitrifying bacteria. While this process detoxifies ammonia, it also produces hydrogen ions (H⁺), which acidify the water.

Consequently, AP practitioners must continuously monitor and adjust pH levels to maintain a balanced environment for both fish and plants.

This ongoing need for pH adjustment is a well-known challenge in the AP community, often leading to the addition of buffers like calcium carbonate or potassium hydroxide.

The Nitrification Myth in Traditional AP

For years, AP practitioners have been taught that nitrification is essential to their systems. This process, it was believed, inevitably leads to acidification, necessitating constant pH adjustments to maintain system balance.

Numerous books, courses, and self-proclaimed experts have built entire curricula around managing this perceived challenge.

However, with iAVs, you can forget all of that nonsense. The system’s simplicity, efficiency, and scientific backing set it apart from any other method.

iAVs: A Game-Changer in Nitrification

iAVs, however, challenges this conventional understanding: the nitrification process in iAVs operates fundamentally differently from traditional systems.

It is important to note that Nitrogen in iAVs does not solely come from TAN, but also from amines, amino acids, nucleic acids, chlorophyll, peptides, enzymes, ureides, and other sources, all of which are made available to plants through microbial processes.

By integrating aquaculture and horticulture in a sand-based system, iAVs offers several key advantages:

1. Enhanced Nutrient Availability

In iAVs, the use of sand as a filtration medium significantly improves nutrient availability. The sand filters fish waste where it is broken down into nutrients that are readily accessible to plants.

This process not only enhances the efficiency of nutrient uptake but also reduces the need for external nutrient inputs.

Unlike traditional AP systems, where nutrient imbalances can be a common issue, iAVs ensures a more stable and nutrient-rich environment for plant growth.

2. Simplified pH Management

One of the most compelling benefits of iAVs is its impact on pH management. iAVs naturally buffers pH levels, mitigating the acidification commonly observed in traditional AP systems.

This means that practitioners do not need to constantly adjust pH levels, making the system easier to manage and more resilient.

The natural buffering ensures that pH levels remain within an optimal range for both fish and plants, negating the need for frequent interventions.

3. Scientifically Supported and Respected

iAVs is a scientifically supported method developed by a group of respected researchers. The system’s design is rooted in rigorous scientific principles, making it a reliable and effective solution for sustainable food production.

A Call for Reevaluation

The success of iAVs challenges us to reevaluate what we think we know about AP and nitrification. It’s time to move beyond the outdated information propagated by those who may have had vested interests in complicating aquaponics for profit.


iAVs redefines our understanding of nitrification in AP systems, offering a more efficient, nutrient-rich, and easier-to-manage system. By enhancing nutrient availability and simplifying pH management, iAVs addresses many of the challenges faced by traditional AP practitioners.

iAVs represents a paradigm shift in sustainable food production. By aligning more closely with natural processes and leveraging cutting-edge scientific understanding, iAVs offers a simpler, more efficient, and more productive approach to integrated aquaculture and agriculture.

As we move forward, it’s crucial that educators, practitioners, and enthusiasts in the field of sustainable agriculture take note of the advancements made possible by iAVs.

It’s time to leave behind unnecessary complexities and embrace a system that truly delivers on the promise of sustainable, efficient food production.

With iAVs, we’re not just growing food—we’re growing a more sustainable future, unencumbered by outdated myths about nitrification and system management.

It’s time to forget what you thought you knew about nitrification and discover the transformative potential of iAVs.

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