I work for the City of Elk City in Oklahoma. I am researching a potential project of beginning a hydroponics garden to be operated by the City. We have two potential sources of water and nutrients we are considering for the garden. We have two fish ponds that could be utilized and then the sewer lagoon gray water. What type plants would you recommend that could utilize these nutrients? What do you foresee as the pros and cons of such an operation? What aspects of the operations do you need to analyze before designing the scope of our operation?
Any assistance you can give in researching this project would be greatly appreciated. I look forward to hearing from you.
Elk City, OK
Anita: Sounds like a worthwhile enterprise. If you intend to have edible crops you would want to opt for the fishponds. Leafy, low nitrogen requiring crops such as lettuce and basil are a popular crop in aquaculture systems. The suitability of the water for plant production is dependent on a number of factors such as the type of fish and fish population density in the ponds. Other factors regarding the scope of the project are: shelters such as greenhouses which may be required for plant production; facilities and area required for the water treatment; seasonal factors; availability of skilled labour; and marketability. The term for integrated fish and plant production is typically coined “aquaponics”. The basic interaction can be best understood by studying the nitrogen cycle. As for the gray water, there are plants which can help to treat and purify the water. Trees such as willows, are able to live in saline conditions and otherwise plant toxic environments. I am not to familiar with gray water and plants, but suspect there are types of marsh grasses which could help to purify the gray water. Using the principles of hydroponics I think that both endeavors are achievable, but a study for feasibility must be completed.