What is Aquaponic Farming?

Lettuces ready for harvest at Agua Dulce Farm in Austin, TX

Texas experiences a unique agricultural landscape; challenges of extreme weather, pest infestation, and consumer demand for cleaner growing practices can make growing food a difficult process. A popular farming model that poses many environmental and economic benefits, Aquaponics can save a farm up to 90% of water used in traditional farming (Source: tamu.edu) and can significantly reduce environmental hardships for farmers.

Michael Hanan lifts styrofoam ‘beds’ to inspect waters beneath

Agua Dulce in Austin, TX employs this model in their farming system, reducing risks for many issues that farmers face. As a local farm, Agua Dulce is able to cut energy costs on transportation, reducing their carbon footprint. To complete the system, water tanks are filled with tilapia and bluegill fish to promote natural fertilizers that feed produce through a water filtration system.

What is Aquaponics?

“Aquaponics is the combination of Aquaculture and Hydroponics. Hydroponics requires expensive nutrients to feed the plants as well as periodic flushing of the systems which can lead to waste disposal issues. Re-circulating aquaculture needs to have excess nutrients removed from the system which can ordinarily means that a percentage of the water is removed on a daily basis. That nutrient rich water then needs to be disposed of and replaced with clean fresh water. Aquaponics allows you to produce fish and plants in the one system with a large reduction in water use.” Source: Green Gro Tech

How Does it Work?

Agua Dulce employs a Deep Water Culture system that “uses a foam raft that is floating in a channel filled with fish effluent water that has been filtered to remove solid wastes. Plants are placed in holes in the raft and the roots dangle freely in the water. This method is most appropriate for growing salad greens and other fast growing, relatively low-nutrient plants. It is also most commonly used in larger commercial-scale systems.” Source: The Aquaponics Source

Michael Hanan harvests lettuces, inspecting for quality.

What Are the Benefits?

The recirculating Aquaponics system uses approximately 90% less water than a conventional farm.

The clean Aquaponic system reduces the risk of pests, molds, and diseases, resulting in pesticide-free, herbicide-free produce. The resulting plants are organic, fresh, available year-round, and sustainably grown. 

The streamlined Aquaponic process produces plants in a controlled and soil-less environment, reducing the chance of contamination, and places plants at waist-height, making harvesting easier. 

The fish live in clean water with ample space in which to swim and grow. Source: Agua Dulce Austin


Agua Dulce lettuces are now included in your bushels!
Let us know how you use their responsibly grown produce by posting your photos and comments on Instagram!



Leave a Reply