02 December, 2013
From VOA Learning English, this is the Agriculture Report.
Aquaponics is a new agricultural method that combines growing vegetables and within fish. The word aquaponics is also new, it comes from aquaculture and hydroponics. Aquaculture means fish farming, and hydroponics means growing plants without soil.
Supporters of aquaponics say it is an efficient way to produce high-quality healthful food. However, it is yet unknown if the method is an environmental or financial improvement to traditional farming.
240 fish swimming in a container or tank at Cylburn Aquaponics farm in Baltimore, Maryland. Farm manager Laura Genello feeds them breakfast. "Hey, guys."
The tank water is rich with fish waste, it flows through a system that removes what is not wanted, the water then flows into vegetable crops nearby.
The floating farm grows about five to ten kilograms of produce a week. Ms Genello expects to raise about 250 kilograms of fish a year.
Environmentalist like aquaponics because fishing is threatening the exists of many wild species. At least half of the world's food fish are raised in farms, waste from all those fish causes pollution.
Dave Love is a researcher at Johns Hopkins University.
"There are fewer and fewer fish in the ocean and more and more fish will be raised on farms. The trick is, how do we do that responsibly, sustainably and in ways that make fish farmers money?"
Ellen Perlman is an aquaponics farmer also near Baltimore. She is growing lettuces and other vegetables she says are hard to find in winter.
"They grow well in greenhouses in the winter, and where also you gonna get a fresh red romaine, and this is grown locally in a greenhouse in the middle of the winter. "
However, the fish tanks need to be heated when the temperatures fall, that costs money. It is one reason Ms Perlman has not made a profit yet.
Back at Cylburn, Laura Genell notes that aquaponics still move. She says parts of the system still need improvement.
And that's the Agriculture Report from VOA Special English. For more stories about agriculture, or to comment on our programs, go to our website 51voa.com. I'm Bob Doughty.