An aquaponics system that includes plants grown in water, fertilizer, and soil has the potential to provide clean water for thousands of people in California.
But when the system is tested for safety and efficacy, the researchers at Stanford University found it can’t be replicated.
“I think that the silver creek is an important experiment,” said John Mancini, an associate professor of marine science at Stanford.
“It’s going to be a fascinating piece of science that will be an important stepping stone to making aquaponic technology a reality for the United States.”
The aquaponica concept originated from the work of Italian scientists who wanted to improve water quality by using fresh water as a fertilizer.
The system uses plants grown from fresh water and fertilizers to create a nutrient rich atmosphere.
But the aquaponia system doesn’t work if the plants are planted too close to water sources, like rivers, lakes, or reservoirs.
The researchers had to look for an alternative solution.
“Silver creek is a concept that was very similar to what we’re doing now, but it’s based on different principles,” Mancinis said.
“We had to find something else.”
The silver creek concept can be expanded to include any type of nutrient-rich environment, Mancino said.
He and his colleagues have a few ideas on what to look at next.
“If you can grow crops, you can build a network that’s a kind of habitat network for these plants,” Manchin said.
“You can make it so that they can get a water source for their nutrients and you can control where they’re growing, you know, where they can grow and what they can do in terms of nutrient supply,” Mancheini said.
Mancini and Mancin are developing a plant-based aquaponiche for the U.S. to scale up and expand.
The research was funded by the National Science Foundation and the U-M Department of Chemistry.
The team also is testing whether a similar system can be scaled up in the Philippines.