As the need for agriculture continues to rise, and demand for locally-grown food surges, growers near urban areas are finding new ways to produce food. One of those ways is aquaponics.
Jeff Jirovec, owner of Grow with the Flow near Denton, Nebraska, began his aquaponics operation about seven years ago. Today, he raises fresh produce, herbs and cut flowers on 11 acres.
Aquaponics is a type of farming that combines aquaculture (raising fish) with hydroponics (growing plants without soil).
“We raise fish and plants together in a symbiotic system, where we use fish waste as fertilizer to fertilize and irrigate our plants,” said Jirovec. “Our plants act as a filter, cleaning and removing that waste nutrient from the water from the fish, and together they help each other grow.”
From his experience, Jirovec has learned about the benefits of aquaponics farming, including the reduction of land and water use.
He said aquaponics uses 15% of the land and 5% of the water compared to traditional farming methods by incorporating vertical growing and water recycling.
Typically during this time of year, Grow with the Flow is busy preparing for farmers markets, weddings and other events, but this year has been different.
With event cancellations, Jirovec said his team has found new ways to engage with customers, including selling plants, flowers and produce online.
“Whether you’re farming or gardening, you learn something new every year,” said Jirovec. “It’s that constant accumulation of knowledge that helps you be successful.”