Science Serving Maryland's Coasts

Research Publications: UM-SG-RS-2014-18

Title: 

An international survey of aquaponics practitioners.

Year: 

2014

Authors: 

Love, DC; Fry, JP; Genello, L; Hill, ES; Frederick, JA; Li, XM; Semmens, K

Source: 

PLOS ONE 9(7)

DOI: 

10.1371/journal.pone.0102662

Open Access: 

This article is freely available online. You can use the DOI number to find it through the journal's website or through a search engine.

Abstract: 

Aquaponics, a combination of fish farming and soilless plant farming, is growing in popularity and gaining attention as an important and potentially more sustainable method of food production. The aim of this study was to document and analyze the production methods, experiences, motivations, and demographics of aquaponics practitioners in the United States (US) and internationally. The survey was distributed online using a chain sampling method that relied on referrals from initial respondents, with 809 respondents meeting the inclusion criteria. The majority of respondents were from the US (80%), male (78%), and had at least a high school degree (91%). The mean age of respondents was 47613 years old. Most respondents (52%) had three years or less of aquaponics experience. Respondents typically raised tilapia or ornamental fish and a variety of leafy green vegetables, herbs, and fruiting crops. Respondents were most often motivated to become involved in aquaponics to grow their own food, for environmental sustainability reasons, and for personal health reasons. Many respondents employed more than one method to raise crops, and used alternative or environmentally sustainable sources of energy, water, and fish feed. In general, our findings suggest that aquaponics is a dynamic and rapidly growing field with participants who are actively experimenting with and adopting new technologies. Additional research and outreach is needed to evaluate and communicate best practices within the field. This survey is the first large-scale effort to track aquaponics in the US and provides information that can better inform policy, research, and education efforts regarding aquaponics as it matures and possibly evolves into a mainstream form of agriculture.

Maryland Sea Grant Topic(s): 

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