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Evaluation of environmental impacts and agronomic and socioeconomic viability in an aquaponics system at São João farm - São Carlos - SP

Grant number: 18/26654-0
Support type:Regular Research Grants
Duration: April 01, 2019 - March 31, 2020
Field of knowledge:Physical Sciences and Mathematics - Chemistry
Principal Investigator:Maria Olímpia de Oliveira Rezende
Grantee:Maria Olímpia de Oliveira Rezende
Home Institution: Instituto de Química de São Carlos (IQSC). Universidade de São Paulo (USP). São Carlos , SP, Brazil

Abstract

The project presented here focuses on the consortium between hydroponics and aquaculture: aquaponics. In aquaculture, there is a need for water exchange, rich in nutrients of high agronomic potential, which are useful for agriculture and can be harmful if discarded inappropriately in the environment. Aquaponics includes food production, using fish and plants in a symbiotic environment, with lower water consumption and high utilization of organic waste. The term comes from the junction of the two words "aquaculture" and "hydroponics". The advantages observed in aquaponics are the low water use, the possibility of producing food in the urban environment, the use of fish waste, control of algae and fungi proliferation, diversification of production and the continuous generation of income and minimization of environmental impacts. In addition, this system suggests the total reuse of water, which avoids waste and reduces the release of effluents into the environment, and is therefore more efficient in water use and effluent generation than hydroponics itself. The nutrients contained in the effluent water of the fish tank serve as fertilizer for the growth of plants under hydroponic cultivation. The use of the nutrients by the plants simulates a treatment of the water and, thus, can be reintroduced in the fish nursery, restarting the process. The use of water directly from the source is only necessary for losses by evaporation, because, aquaponics value the reuse of water. This project aims to expand the system already started in the São João farm, a farm with a history of environmental education projects, which has a Sustainable Center for Environmental Education. The São João farm has, therefore, important conditions to be chosen as place of implantation of the aquaponic system. With the objective of making the commercialization of fish profitable and diversifying the production of vegetables, it is mandatory to increase the infrastructure. Thus, it is intended, in the course of this project, to expand the current system, building more support boxes for planting vegetables. Currently the plantation privileges only the cultivation of tomatoes. Tomatoes have been chosen because they are vegetables in which many pesticides are commonly used. However, it should be noted that no pesticides were used. With diversified production, it will be possible to make a socioeconomic analysis of an aquaponic system compared to a conventional agricultural system. From this analysis, one can observe the possibility and the potential of the expansion of the aquaponic systems to other regions of the watershed, since in the proximities of the property there are many medium-sized sites. From the educational point of view, the need to empower small farmers to ensure the proper and sustainable functioning of the system will expand communication and awareness channels with consumers, local governments, river basin committees, and regulatory agencies and licensing related to water issues. The commercialization of fish and the variety of planted vegetables will bring financial returns to the producer. (AU)