As you might know, we made a survey last month about aquaponics, and now here are the results! We asked more than 250 people (from beginners to aquaponics masters) and we have some really interesting results.
We are in the testing period with AquaShield (if You are not familiar with our project, please take a look at these posts: The hardware and The AquaShield whitepaper and Under the hood – AquaShield’s architecture) so the main goal was to confirm or refute our idea about controlling and monitoring an aquaponics setup, and God how useful was these survey results!
What topics did we ask about?
Our questions were mainly focused on:
- What are the main difficulties to run a healthy system
- What are the most commonly used sensors, to monitor an aquaponics setup
- What kind of automations are used to run the system the most efficiently
It turned out, that the most difficult for aquaponics farmers is to grow healthy plants (even more difficult, than keeping the fish healthy) which is understandable in such fragile ecosystem.
We share the same thoughts, which is why we created AquaShield’s complex monitoring subsystem – based on various sensors. With this you will be noticed early enough, if there is a problem with the nutrients flow, water quality or the amount of sunshine needed for the optimal growth.
Related to this question, we also asked, what kind of sensors actually are used in these setups. What was the most interesting, that almost all of the responders use water temperature sensors (76%) and more than half of them use water level (58%) and PH probes (60%), but only 21% use EC sensors.
EC sensors are used for measuring the level of water borne nutrients in water (available to the plants), so it could be a huge help to maintain a healthy grow on plants. Of course EC probes are not the most user friendly devices and that is why it is not so commonly used. (With AquaShield we would like to change this as well.)
Also ORP probes were not as popular, as we thought it would be: only 8% of the participants checked as an important sensor for keeping optimal the aquaponics environment. ORP is responsible to provide feedback about dissolved oxygen. Nitrifying bacteria need an adequate level of dissolved oxygen in the water at all times in order to maintain high levels of productivity. Nitrification is an oxidative reaction, where oxygen is used as a reagent; without oxygen, the reaction stops. So in short, you have to keep dissolved oxygen at an optimal level to grow healthy plants!
One of AquaShield’s biggest innovation, that it could control various devices (like pumps, grow lights, valves) based on the sensors’ feedback or timing. In the survey asked, what are the most commonly used automations in an aquaponics setup and the winners were the grow light and heater controlling automations. Automatic cycle-pump control (flooding and draining the grow beds periodically) were only chosen by 26% of the participants as a desirable function.
What to do with this?
As I previously wrote, with this survey, our main goal was to confirm or refute our concept about the AquaShield. The responses (and the feedback by the community) confirmed that other aquaponics enthusiast share our vision of a highly advanced controlling and monitoring system so we are sure, that we are on the right track.
However we also see it clear now, that many of us (aquaponics nerds) think differently when it comes to the concept of an optimal controlling and monitoring system. Now that we know this, we can create a more sophisticated system and environment that everyone can tailor the most fitting solution.
Sounds nice isn’t it? And the best part is that we are really really close to bringing the whole project to life and share it with you!
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