WaterWorks2015 (2016 Joint Call) - Step - Sustainable management of water resources in agriculture, forestry and freshwater aquaculture sectors (Step 2)

ON-SITE MICROBIAL SENSING FOR MINIMISING ENVIRONMENTAL RISKS FROM AQUAPONICS TO HUMAN HEALTH – SMARTECOPONICS

Submission summary

The main objective of SMARTECOPONICS is the design and development of a novel approach for monitoring the main biological hazards affecting consumers of aquatic foods. This includes pathogens (coliforms and cyanobacteria) and biotoxins that, when consumed in excess of threshold quantities, can lead to illness. The proposal offers a complete solution to monitor microbiological species involved into maintain the equilibrium among microbial activity, nutrients and wastes along the value chain of aquaponics regards human health risks. Some aspects regard this equilibrium like reduction new water make-up consumption, could increase bacterial concentration, and tis risk have to be minimised.

The world is facing a number of serious problems of which population rise, climate change, soil degradation, water scarcity and food security are among the most important. Aquaponics, as a closed loop system consisting of hydroponics and aquaculture elements, could contribute to addressing these problems. Mineral transfers from aquaculture to hydroponics support efficient nutrient recycling, while water recirculation reduces the water use. The regular exchange of water performed in conventional aquaculture systems is not necessary in aquaponics. Thus, in aquaponics, nitrate in excess is used for valuable plant production instead of being removed in gaseous form in denitrification units.

Its role for food security would be particularly relevant because the global population now exceeds 7.2 billion and is growing rapidly. It is expected to reach 9.6 billion around 2050 with more than 75% living in urban areas. Urban population growth will require an increasing demand for animal protein. However, the future of conventional farming, including intensive animal protein production, in meeting this demand is challenged by rising but fluctuating energy and oil costs, climate change and pollution. The aquaponics concept is promising to contribute to both global and urban sustainable food production and should at the same time diminish pollution and need for resources.

Aquaponics is an integrated multi-trophic system that combines elements of recirculating aquaculture and hydroponics , wherein the water from the fish tanks that is enriched in nutrients is used for plant growth. The interlinking of aquaculture and hydroponic procedures allows some of the shortcomings of the respective systems to be addressed, and this represents a promising sustainable food production method. Aquaponics system design and application can be considered a highly multidisciplinary approach drawing from environmental, mechanical and civil engineering design concepts as well as aquatic and plant related biology, biochemistry, and biotechnology. System specific measurements and control technologies also require knowledge of subjects related to the field of computer science for automatic control systems.

Given the fact that aquaponics follows nutrient and water reusing principles, it seems to be a promising solution for sustainable aquaculture and hydroponic practices. These challenges need to be resolved with the aim to establish fully controlled and standardized aquaponic systems that will be easy to handle and economically viable. The competitiveness of the production method depends on technological developments, local markets, and climatic and geographic conditions that need to be assessed and cannot be generalized.



Project coordinator

AGENCIA ESTATAL CONSEJO SUPERIOR DE INVESTIGACIONES CIENTIFICAS (Divers public)

The author of this summary is the project coordinator, who is responsible for the content of this summary. The ANR declines any responsibility as for its contents.

Partner

CONSIGLIO NAZIONALLE DELE RICERCHE
AGENCIA ESTATAL CONSEJO SUPERIOR DE INVESTIGACIONES CIENTIFICAS
INRA - Pisciculture Expérimentale INRA des Monts d'Arrée
WATEROLOGIES SL

Help of the ANR 150,479 euros
Beginning and duration of the scientific project: March 2017 - 30 Months

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