The unit is a Student Enviro Group initiative which originated from the harsh growing conditions we endure in Taupō combined with the decommissioning of the school swimming pool.
Students explored the options available, made experimental scenarios and studied the results.
We considered areas available without encroaching on our important outdoor education areas. Integral components of developing a new style of garden was to eliminate the use of chemical products and growing matter, a sustainable option and friendly to the environment.
Aquaponics Unit opening cake
Principal Paula Farquhar and Roseanne Jollins, Contact, opening Aquaponics unit
Firstly, we considered and investigated building a Hydroponics Unit. We visited several organisations sourcing information. Through on-line searches of set-ups, we came upon Aquaponics which is an advancement on hydroponics with the system providing higher quality and natural food. Our unit is a ‘closed loop’ system which means we are reusing the water, back in to the fish tank after the plants have utilised the waste produced by the fish. We wanted to do it once and right. Planning and fundraising has taken three (3) years with students fully involved at all stages. Our past students, who have moved on to higher education, remain connected. With strong support from our Principal and staff, Board of Trustees, PTA, parents and Taupō’s Enviroschools Facilitator, we are proud to have our Aquaponics Unit operating.
What is Aquaponics?
Aquaponics is essentially organic cultivation of plants and animals together in a re-circulating closed system (water tank), using water instead of potting mixes. It is a combination of aquaculture (fish farming) and hydroponics (soil-less plant culture).
The system relies on the smooth functioning of the natural ecosystem created in the water tank. Water is only added to replace water loss from absorption by plants, evaporation into the air or the removal of biomass from the system.
This system is efficient, uses up little space and does not require lots of extra water. The fish provide all the nutrients needed by the plants so no fertiliser is required. Because the plants grow in water there are no weeds and so herbicide is not needed either. The daily water use is minimal and a large volume of food crops can be grown using much less space when compared to growing crops in a field. Aquaponics can be produced locally, year round and with consistent cropping.