Interest in local, sustainable food production in Minnesota has expanded beyond edible plants and domesticated animals being raised separately to include integrated, year-round growing of aquatic animals (i.e. tilapia, yellow perch, shrimp, blue claws) with plants (i.e. herbs, vegetables, fruits, flowering plants) – known as Aquaponics. Aquaponics provides an ideal solution for locally producing aquatic animals in tanks with nutrient-rich effluent benefiting hydroponically grown plants in controlled environments, such as warehouses and greenhouses. In addition to the more than 40 aquaponics producers in Minnesota (up from 3 in 2010!), numerous aquaponic-related firms have begun to show interest in this emerging field, including hydroponic growers, fish processors, distributors/retailors, restaurants, farmers markets, food trucks, municipalities, correctional facilities, and K-12 schools.
Aquaponics at the University of Minnesota
Seeing the clear need for research and workforce development in aquaponics production in Minnesota, a collaborative team at the University of Minnesota has developed a new undergraduate course (HORT 4601), multiple research projects, continuing education opportunities, and partnerships with academic and industry leaders from across the country to position Minnesota as a national leader in this field.
See a recent article about Aquaponics students on the University of Minnesota’s Inquiry blog.