Hydroponics at work in the Negev Desert

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The Negev Desert covers 50 to 75% of Israel and contains only 10% of the population. It is what you would expect from a desert - hot, dry and poor farming soil. negev,negev dessert

Yet the Israelis have developed an ingeneous method of food and vegetable production in this uninhabitable place by using a mixture of aquaponics and drip hydroponics on fish farms to hydroponically grow vegetables.

They raise Tilapia fish on fish farms that are harvested and brought to market when they reach a certain size. Tilapia is a cichlid species of fish and is fast becoming a favorite the world over. I have not eaten one yet it is the fifth most consumed fish in the United States.

They are easy to grow because they survive shock extremely well, subsist on a less expensive cereal based diet and can live in brackish water. So where does hydroponics come in? Let's look at the process...

To start, deep wells are dug in the Negev to obtain brackish underground fresh water and pumped into pools in which Tilapia are grown. Waste pool water is saved, passed through filters and then fed to hydroponic plants through a drip system.

This system has been in effect for over 30 years and has proven extremely successful. So successful, in fact, that plans are being developed to build desalinization plants so underground salt water can also be used.

This is a very good example of aquaponics at work. Aquaponics will not work well in small systems such as aquariums with aquarium type fish because thay cannot live in brackish water causing aquariums to be cleaned regularly which would eliminate all fish waste with its associated plant nutrients. But if dirty aquarium water was saved, aged and filtered it would be a good organic plant food for any hydroponics system.


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