Lethbridge College is helping to develop aquaponics as a way to grow produce. Aquaponics is a different way of farming. The plants it produces grow out of water instead of soil. The nutrients they need are derived from fish waste, not fertilizer.
The College has created a new position to help its aquaponics program. It’s hired Charlie Schulz as Aquatics Researcheer.
“This is considered a green industry,” said Shultz, who has more than 16 year experience working with aquaponics in the Virgin Islands and Kentucky. “I don’t rely on buying fertilizers, or mining fertilizers from the environment. I use waste from the fish.”
Shultz said he wants to help an industry that’s also developing in Canada and around the world succeed in Alberta. “We need to address us aquaponics in this temperate climate,” he said. “This is a cold climate so can we economically use aquaponics year round? In the winter we’re going to be throwing a lot of energy and money toward heating and lighting so my research will be is this economically viable.”
Food safey, organic standards and protocols for organic farming are also among the things Shultz’s research will examine. In Canada, aquaponics and fish farming can be certified organic.
“These systems basically need to be organic,” he said. ”I can’t use synthetic pesticides with the crops here because they could drip into the water and onto the fish. On the fish end of things, I have to use best husbandry practices so I can’t use therapeutics, I can’t use chemicals.”
His research will address the organic potential of aquaponic systems as well as bottlenecks in the industry. Shultz says he’s here to help the industry succeed.