Aquaponics is the combined culture of fish and hydroponic vegetable crops in a closed-loop, recirculating aquaculture system. In aquaponics, fish provide the nutrients that plants need to grow, and the plants act as a filter to improve the water quality for the fish.
The Pentair and Urban Organics venture will initially set up and operate an 87 000 sq ft indoor aquaponics facility in St Paul, Minnesota. This will be one of the largest commercial aquaponics facilities in the world and will have the potential to annually produce 275 000 lbs of fresh char, salmon or trout, and 400 000 lbs of organically grown produce, including hydroponic basil, mint, kale, chard, lettuce and watercress.
Construction plans for the new facility are already underway, with plans to harvest the first produce and fish by summer 2016.
“Aquaculture and aquaponics have the potential to help the world meet its growing need for protein, and we have the technologies and expertise to help grow the industry while sustainably producing food with less waste, energy and water,” said Randall Hogan, Pentair chairman and CEO. “The collaboration with Urban Organics is one more step in our efforts to help this new industry bring healthy food to developing countries, arid climates and space-challenged urban centres.”
“The founders of Urban Organics are very excited to collaborate with Pentair to bring commercial scale aquaponics farming into the main stream,” said David Haider, co-founder of Urban Organics and manager of the new St Paul facility. “Our customers have encouraged us to expand and with our new operations we will provide them with consistent, weekly supplies of fresh fish and produce harvested locally at our urban farm throughout the year.”
The two companies first started working together when Urban Organics opened its inaugural aquaponics farm in 2014 in St Paul.
Pentair recently opened the World Aquaculture Technology Engineering & Research Center of Excellence in Apopka, Florida at the Pentair Aquatic Eco-Systems campus. The centre, which consists of 12 400 sq ft of laboratories and fish culture systems, is used for demonstration, research and teaching activities.