Aquaponics: the farm of the future?

, Written by Kyle Aevermann, Posted: Fri, August 15 2014 at 6:20 PM, Updated: Fri, August 15 2014 at 6:57 PM

Wimer, Ore. -- It's no secret that one of the most devastating impacts of this year's historic drought is on area farms.

But one group of farmers in Wimer is doing better than ever. And while it may sound counter-intuitive their farm relies almost entirely on water.

It is called aquaponics, a combination of raising fish, along side plants and vegetables. 

Olivia Hittner and Michael Hasey own of The Farming Fish in Wimer. 

Their aquaponic farms sits inside of a greenhouse, and they believe it is the future of farming.

"We are prioritizing sustainable aquaculture right alongside saving resources with growing our vegetables," Hittner says.

As you enter the greenhouse, there are 6 large water tanks, each holds between 300 and 600 fish.

"What this does is, it allows us to have different size fish to feed to create a certain amount of nutrients to support a certain amount of vegetables that you see on the other side of the green house," said Hasey.

The vegetables and other plants are growing on floating rafts.  The roots dangle in the water absorbing fish waste.

"It's nutrients that the plants are consuming for growth," said Hasey.

The plants clean the water, sending it back into the fish tanks and the cycle begins again.

The farm relies almost entirely on water. But, despite being in a severe drought, aquaponics farms actually use between 85% & 95% less water than traditional farms. 

"We were able to use over 1 and a half million gallons less water to grow the same amount of vegetables that it would have taken to grow in the ground last year," Hittner said.

Since the farming takes place inside, the growing season can last all year. And because the water temperature can be controlled, plants actually grow faster than they do in the ground.

"In the field they can only take up as much water and nutrients as are available at ideal times of days. But in here they have as much water and nutrients as all day long, everyday and they don't have to work as hard for it," Hittner said.

Currently, The Farming Fish is trying to promote a Kickstarter campaign to help better isolate their greenhouse, which in the end will help better their production.

To find out how you can donate, or learn more about aquaponics, click here.

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About the Author

Kyle Aevermann

Kyle Aevermann reports weekdays and anchors NBC 5 News Weekends. He joined NBC 5 News in March 2012 as a morning producer and reporter. Prior to joining KOBI, Kyle interned at KISL-FM on Catalina Island, CA. He was also a regular contributor to CNN's citizen journalism program.

Originally from the Chicago-land area, Kyle moved to the Pacific Northwest in 2009 to work in the social media industry. Kyle enjoys hiking, traveling, learning about cultures, and has a serious love for food.

Catch Kyle anchoring weekends on NBC 5 News at 6pm and 11pm.

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