Chris hartleb, Professor of Fisheries Biology at the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point and Nelson and Pade, Inc. have joined forces to create a new course offered through UWSP’s continuing education curriculum. The course, “Introduction to Aquaponics,” is a three credit online course with a laboratory portion to take place in late May at Nelson and Pade, Inc.’s demonstration greenhouse. The following is from an e-mail conversation with Dr. Hartleb.
Why aquaponics? “Aquaponics is a highly innovative, efficient and sustainable agriculture method that combines aquaculture and hydroponics. Nutrient rich water from aquaculture, fish culture, provides natural fertilizer to the plants in the hydroponics system. In return, the plants return clean, freshwater to the fish. Overall, aquaponics conserves water, is a natural food production system, involves no harmful herbicides or pesticides, eliminates any soil-borne diseases that may be carried by vegetables, and is compact, thereby, maximizing space while increasing food production.”
How did the course come about? “The UWSP-Northern Aquaculture Demonstration Facility had been co-hosting one-day workshops on aquaponics with Nelson & Pade, Inc. Rebecca Nelson and John Pade have always strongly supported aquaponics education so they suggested that UWSP and Nelson & Pade, Inc. partner on offering college-level aquaponics courses. After a few months of discussion and preparation, we jointly developed the undergraduate/graduate course in aquaponics that is being offered for the first time this semester (Biology 498: Introduction to Aquaponics). This private/public partnership and the resulting UW-Stevens Point aquaponics course is a new stage in the development of the aquaponics industry and in providing comprehensive training in aquaponics at the university level. As the aquaponics industry grows, one of the big issues being faced is a lack of trained and educated individuals to fill jobs as aquaponic greenhouse managers and workers. The launch of this course, which we believe is the first of its kind in the nation, has the potential to grow into a knowledge-based economic engine to help the aquaponics industry. The course has online lectures that begin March 1, with hands-on labs that occur May 21-23 at the Nelson & Pade, Inc. greenhouses.”
Who is Nelson & Pade, Inc? “Based in Montello, WI, Nelson and Pade, Inc. supplies aquaponic systems and controlled environment agriculture technology to meet the need for the sustainable production of nutritious, safe food. Their mission is to lead the industry by providing quality systems, supplies, training and technical support. Their goal is food security for all nations, through aquaponics and controlled environment agriculture. They have over 20 years’ experience in aquaponics and controlled environment agriculture. They have earned industry-wide respect for their leadership, research and knowledge, for designing and building functional and highly productive aquaponic systems; for publishing the world’s first and primary magazine on aquaponics for the past 14 years; for writing books and school curriculums on aquaponics, for offering comprehensive training to prospective and new growers and for consulting on aquaponic projects around the world.”
What is in the future for aquaponics? “The aquaponics industry will develop rapidly for both salt and fresh water fish and crops to meet tomorrow’s demand for food world-wide. Aquapoincs will become increasingly important in a world where climate change challenges make traditional food production technologies in soil either uneconomical or difficult to implement. Overall, aquaponics maximizes food productivity where resources are or become limited – such as water conservation. Aquaponics produces crops that are safe, organic and can be grown close to markets (i.e. consumers) which avoids transportation and food safety issues. The partnership with Nelson and Pade, Inc. is an example of UW-Stevens Point’s involvement in the ‘communiversity,’ helping local businesses and emerging private companies and community-based organizations achieve their entrepreneurial goals.”