Aquaponics: Farming Without Dirt

vertical_grow_system

FarmedHere, a company out of Chicago, is working hard to perfect the process of indoor farming…without a single grain of dirt. They’re using a process called aquaponics.

The seeds of basil, arugula, and other leafy greens are placed in small baskets made of coconut shavings, called coconut cores. The seeds germinate under artificial (compact-fluorescent) light. Once the plants are about two to three inches tall, they are transferred to a vertical grow system, made up of five to six stacked beds. Each basket is placed in a foam float so that the roots of the plants are submerged in the water.

The water comes from four 800-gallon tanks containing around 800 tilapia. The water, rich with fish waste, is filtered and clarified before it’s fed to the plants. The water then goes back to the fish tanks in a closed-loop system. This enables the facility to conserve 97 percent of fresh water per farm acre compared to regular agriculture, according to Hardej. (Once the fish are full-grown they are also sold at market).