| Nirad Mudar |
Azlan and Amina developed a water-control system that allows recycling of water between fishpond and plants saving 90% of water
Whether you live in an apartment or in an independent house, here’s a chance to grow your own vegetables in whatever little space you have – that too while ensuring 30 per cent faster growth than employing conventional methods and saving as much as 90 per cent of water otherwise consumed to grow vegetables of that particular quantity.
And guess who’s going to help you do that? The fish! Ayoung husband-wife team, both mechanical engineers, has adopted a method they call ‘aquaponics’ – a hybrid technology of aquaculture (growing fish) and hydroponics, a method of growing plants using mineral nutrient solutions in water without soil — to facilitate growing vegetables at home. The duo presented their aquaponics concept at the Mini Maker Faire in Bengaluru on Thursday. The two young Bengalurubased innovators – Azlan Mohammed Shakib and Amina Iman – have created an ecosystem which comprises a tank (or pond) with live fish that supplies water filled with fish manure to the plant-growing area. After the plant roots suck in all the nutrients from the fish manure, it sends the cleaned-up water back to the fishpond. The cycle continues again and again. “You can grow all the vegetables required in the Indian cuisine that grow above the ground.
The root vegetables like carrots and potatoes are a bit of a problem. But we have had beautiful round carrots grown in this manner!” says Shakib. “You don’t need to change the water at all, unless you feel it is reducing due to evaporation; then you just add a little more. That is how we are able to save up to 90 per cent of water,” says 21-year-old Shakib, an engineering graduate from Dayanand Sagar College of Engineering who is doing his Masters in product designing but he admits that his interests lie in agricultural technologies. The interests are mirrored in his 23-year-old wife Amina, who is an engineering graduate from Bengaluru-based Kammavari Sangham Group of Institutions.
Shakib says fish manure is one of the best among fertilisers derived from animal waste. It is a fast-acting fertiliser that provides a quick nutrient boost to the growing plants, unlike livestock animal manure, which takes months to break down and make nutrients available for the plants. Fish manure is nitrogen rich, but also provides lower levels of the macronutrients phosphorus and potassium. Shakib and Amina have developed a water-controlling system that keeps the water retained in the plant area in check before it sends the cleaned-up water back to the fishpond, so that there is an equilibrium of the required water content to sustain the fish as well as the growing plants. The duo says the aquaponics concept is simple and requires minimal maintenance as the symbiotic relationship between the fishpond and the plants continues in a natural manner. The only thing that requires a little attention is the water-control system to ensure that required level of water is retained to sustain life in both the compartments. “This provides customisable options for people with gardens or adequate space in their balconies. You can have larger such ecosystems in the gardens. And even in apartments if, say, 20 families get together, they can have a huge system to grow much larger quantities of vegetables of different kinds,” explains Shakib. Shakib and Amina now plan to set up such plant-growing platforms on 30×40 sites and spread awareness among the people that such a concept is available to grow vegetables right inside homes. – Courtesy