The project Kick Off meeting was held at the University of Girona
LEQUIA investigates a bioremediation system to control nutrients content in water
Aquaponics integrates hydroponic systems (cultivating plants without soil) with aquaculture (fish farming). This technology to supply fish and vegetables decreases the demand for land, water and resources through a symbiotic approach. Waste excreted by fish is converted into valuable nutrients for plants, while water from aquaculture is fed into the hydroponic system and can be recirculated.
Although some aquaponics systems have recently been installed at industrial scale, there are two factors that limit its further commercialization: i) the complexity of managing nutrients content in water, and ii) the organoleptic load released from fish, which causes fish odour in hydroponics. Both factors will be addressed by the Euro-Mediterranean project WAFRA (Wireless Aquaponic Farming in Remote Areas: A smart adaptive socio-economic solution). The project Kick Off meeting was held on March 7th at the University of Girona (Catalonia, Spain).
This two-year project, led by University Ains Shams (Egypt) and funded through ERANETMED programme, will develop wireless aquaponics system for remote areas. Firstly, a photovoltaic powered remote wireless sensing platform will be developed to monitor nutrients (nitrogen and phosphorous compounds), fish odour, and other operational parameters. Secondly, microbial electrochemical technologies will be applied to adjust nutrients concentration in the aquaculture tank effluent to serve hydroponics. The resulting platform will include a cost-benefit analysis module and will allow aquaculture companies, hydroponic/aquaponic farm owners or technology providers operating their aquaponics systems in an efficient and sustainable way.
To reach such ambitious goals, five North-African and European research institutions covering a wide range of scientific and technologic expertise such as computer science, microbiology, process engineering or plant physiology, will collaborate: Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research – UFZ Leipzig (Germany), University of Salerno (Italy), University of Girona (Spain), University of Tunis El Manar (Tunisia) and University Ains Shams (Egypt). External stakeholders will be also involved through a comprehensive dissemination and exploitation work plan that includes two workshops being held in Tunisia and Egypt. LEQUIA role will be mainly focused on the development and scale-up of an electrochemical bioremediation system to adjust nutrients content and on leading the dissemination and exploitation plan.
Project acronym WAFRA is an Arabic word that means abundance. We expect that this multidisciplinary Euro-Mediterranean initiative will boost aquaponics and contribute to supply abundant production of fish and vegetables in the near future.
WAFRA – Cultivo acuapónico inalámbrico para áreas remotas:
una solución socio-económica inteligente y adaptable. Proyecto financiado por el Ministerio de Ciencia, Innovación y Universidades a través de las Acciones Conjuntas de Programación Internacional (PCI2018-092948) – ERANETMED3-221.