It is this diverse population of bacteria, fungi, algae, nematodes, protozoa, amoebae and an almost never ending list of possibilities, combinations and balances of microscopic life that make it possible for the plants roots to take up nutrients, exchange gases and prevent disease. In fact, we now know through replicated scientific studies that the plants roots actually control how much food it requires by producing more or less root excretions. These root excretions called exudates are food for the bacteria. The bacteria then eat the exudate, transforming it and storing it in their bodies as nitrogen. This nitrogen was not given to the bacteria through some form of fertilizer fed to the soil. It was produced by the root's excretions, then transformed into nitrogen by the associated bacteria feeding on them! This nitrogen in the bacteria is now stored but not available to the plant roots. This is where protozoa, nematodes and other micro-organisms come in and eat the bacteria transforming and freeing the nitrogen which can now be taken up by the roots of the plants. Any excess nutrients are immediately stored by micro-fungi, mycorrhizae and other soil organisms preventing excessive or unnecessary nutrient accumulation while at the same time preventing leaching. Once stored in the fungi, these nutrients will continue to cycle in the soil, slowly releasing over time or when the plant roots need them. This is going on billions of times a second in a healthy garden.
Plankton and other algae
One tablespoon of healthy soil can contain billions of micro-organisms. This diversity and rise and fall in organisms is what makes a healthy soil systems so healthy, stable and productive.
The benefits of building, cultivating, maintaining and restoring soils is well understood, documented and proven. More and more organic farmers are producing high quality compost and compost tea for use in the fields.
The Water-Food Web
Just like the life in soil, water contains a diverse collection of micro-organisms supporting complex systems and playing key roles in maintaining balanced aquatic communities. Similar to soil, healthy water ecologies also contain billions of organisms per cubic inch. In some cases these living food webs may contain even more life and diversity than is found in soil. It is this magical and complex dance of temperature, oxygen, bacteria, fungi, micro-crustaceans, phytoplankton, zooplankton, micro-organisms, algae, and others that make Aquaponics so successful. Soils experience changes in UV exposure, temperatures, oxygen levels, salinity, moisture content, fertility and structure, which can all lead to a rise and fall in soil life and health. Pure and/or healthy water generally has a stable or slow changing environment, supporting larger numbers of organisms and in larger diversities. Plants and other life benefit from these ideal and stable conditions, producing crops that are often faster, healthier and more disease resistant.
Unfortunately in the current world view, Aquaponics water is seen as merely a nitrogen cycle, minerals and nutrients. We at Nor Cal Aquaponics know it is so much more!
In soil and compost it’s possible to culture populations of micro-organisms that are in specific proportions, diversities, populations and stages of development that support specific plant types (grasses, trees, vegetables, etc.). We can also culture these micro-organisms to eliminate nearly all pests, harmful funguses, viruses and diseases. These same methods can also be applied to Aquaponics water. Working with the world's leading soil Micro-Biologist Dr. Elaine Ingham, we here at Nor Cal Aquaponics are now learning how populations of certain organisms can help eliminate the need for natural pesticides, fungicides, herbicides, viruses and disease, while reducing levels of heavy metals, minerals, organic compounds and various pollutants in water. We are also learning how specific life in the water requires specific water chemistry and conditions to be supported. Better understanding Aquaponics water systems is a core value and passion here at Nor Cal Aquaponics and we are currently spending hours and hours looking through microscope learning all we can about the life in the water and it's specific relationship to Aquaponics. We are just scratching the surface of understanding how Aquaponics system water lives and supports life. We feel the more we understand the water and its relationship to micro-organisms, PH, fish, plants, nutrients, etc., the more successful and ecological sound we will become. This one of a kind research and our successful models can help any Aquaponics endeavor to become even more successful and production while drastically reducing labor and materials costs associated with the maintenance and trouble shooting of Aquaponics systems and farms.
Ultimately all of us as Aquaponics Farmers culture life in the water. It's so easy to miss the trillions and trillions of life forms making it all possible in the translucent liquid that is the source of all life...
Want to learn more about our unique understanding and approach to Aquaponics water?
Join us for one of our trainings or schedule an appointment for a consultation today!