OSF was originally set out to be an aquaponic sturgeon farm. However, I quickly discovered that we don’t actually have all the information yet to run one of these systems successfully. The good news is that I’m a plant scientist*, so that just means that now I work on research instead of farming. This is now a science blog about aquaponics and sturgeon.
Sturgeon and aquaponics go together like bread ‘n’ butter– although most aquaponic growers use tilapia, my humble opinion is they’re actually a bad fit for most plant species. They want temperatures above 80F (27C); by a harsh coincidence, that’s when most vegetable crops start getting root diseases. There’s also the issue of tilapia’s low– scratch that, negative— market value when grown in small quantities.
Sturgs like the same water temperatures that plants do. Not cold like trout, not hot like tilapia, just nice and cool in the middle. Most sturgeon species also thrive in a wide range of salinities– so that means we can also use the same kind of fish that we already know how to grow well to develop saltwater polyculture.
I’m currently working with the Aquaponics Association to ensure good food safety in aquaponic systems. This entails applying for SBIR/STTR grants to study aquaponic production and food safety through the USDA, FDA, NSF, EPA, and pretty much any US government agency that’s remotely related to food production; and working with the aquaculture and horticulture industries to learn how we can make aquaponics a full-time paying gig for people around the world.
*Doctor of Plant Medicine, University of Florida ’11. That’s as in veterinarian for crops– witch doctor is a rewarding but altogether different career path.