Aquaponics: A Unique Food Production System That’s In The Spotlight This Week In Wisconsin


Two different events this week highlight a high-tech food production system called aquaponics.

The first is the International Aquaponics Conference at University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point, which wraps up today. The second is the Midwest Renewable Energy Fair, which is held this weekend in Custer.

People from ten different countries are attending the International Aquaponics Conference to address a global food shortage by growing vegetables and raising fish indoors. Chris Hartleb is the co-director of the UW-Stevens Point Northern Aquaculture Demonstration Facility.

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Hartleb: “The integration of aquaculture, or fish farming, and hydroponics, which is soilless plant culture. You feed the fish in the system, and the fish essentially produce waste water that travels to the plants, and gives nutrients to the plants, and they in return provide cleaner water back to the fish.”

One of the speakers at the conference is a California teenager, Pierre Beauchamp, who built an aquaponics system to provide fresh produce for his high school cafeteria. The system is now part of the school’s science curriculum.

Beauchamp: “There’s definitely physics, chemistry – there’s a lot of chemistry actually, water chemistry. In an aquaponics system, fish produce ammonia, and then you can figure out how much that plant actually takes up out of the water to grow.”

Beauchamp is also one of the presenters at an aquaponics workshop at this weekend’s Midwest Renewable Energy Fair. Another presenter, Molly Stanek of Imagine Aquaponics of Milwaukee, wants to build an urban center to provide fresh food for inner city residents.

Stanek: “We would love to see more industries that can partner with aquaponics [and] possibly be located around the same site. Just like in aquaponics, where the plants and vegetables help each other out, we could see a lot of other businesses taking that mindset and really working together well.”