WAFRA - Wireless Aquaponic Farming in Remote Areas: A smart adaptive socio-economic solution

WAFRA is an Arabic word that means abundance, this word reflects the aim of our proposal which is to develop a smart aquaponic system in remote areas to supply plant and fish in abundance. An aquaponic system could be defined as an integration of a hydroponic system (growing plants without soil) with an aquaculture (fish farming) through the efficient use of natural resources. This integrated farming technology limits the water exchange and reduces the environmental impact of aquacultures and conventional farming by converting the waste excreted by fish into valuable nutrients for plants within a confined water capacity. Fish species such as Nile Tilapia and Trout are very common, while lettuce, spinach and basil are considered among the common integrated leafy vegetables. They all could be grown using aquaponic system. In recent years, this practice has turned from small individual scale to marketable scale. But two of the main challenges facing aquaponics are i) to polish the aquaculture effluent and to adjust the nutrients load (especially nitrogen content) required for the hydroponics application; ii)to reduce the organoleptics (OL) released from fish that cause the fish odour in hydroponics. The nitrate concentration and odour released from fish were the two problems that prompted the idea to design a smart stand-alone bioremediation tank that uses Biolectrochemical technology to remove excess nitrogen and OL. The tank will also contain sensors and actuators that will remotely sense the concentration and signal for the need to take necessary action whenever a parameter diverts from its actual level. Thus it will ensure that appropriate nitrogen concentrations and odourless water reach the plant bed. WAFRA will be controlled by a photovoltaic powered wireless platform in order to offer a self-sustainable system that allow the functioning of such platforms at community level. This application will be user-friendly offering easy access to end-users (aquaculture, hydroponic or aquaponic farm owners or new start-ups). The on-line system will offer guiding tips from experts, step by step planning scheme that includes a cost benefit analysis and a training module for beginners. The on-site validation of the system and expert opinion will provide the methodological approach to deliver a tangible solution that would contribute to the socio-economic growth of the area. A short video showcasing the project outcome and testimonials from all PIs will be shared on webpages of all the involved partner countries. WAFRA will foster two stakeholder meetings that will take place at the two involved South Mediterranean countries in order to strengthen the cooperation between EU-Med research and innovation actors. WAFRA will also raise awareness about the problems and solutions of aquaponics systems. Knowledge sharing/transfer will take place among North and South Mediterranean partner countries while the implementation and deployment will take place at the South Mediterranean partner countries. WAFRA is a multidisciplinary project that involves fields such as civil engineering, computer engineering, communication engineering, chemistry, microbiology, biotechnology, plant physiology and cost benefit analysis. About 50% of the tasks are assigned to female young and senior researchers. WAFRA paves the ground for the development of a sustainable and compact technology which will tackle the waterenergy-food nexus and circular economy through a systematic perspective. It offers a leap in technology that offers means for overcoming problems of water scarcity and arid conditions.

Additional Info

  • Start: 2018
  • Duration: 24 months
  • LEQUIA grant: 93.840 Euros
  • Funding organisation: Spanish Ministry of Science
  • Program: ERANETMED3 - Acciones de Programación Conjunta Internacional
  • Reference: ERANETMED3-221

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Funding organisation


Laboratory of Chemical and Enviromental Engineering

Institut de Medi Ambient
Universitat de Girona
Campus Montilivi
17003 Girona

Parc Científic i Tecnològic de la UdG
Edifici Jaume Casademont, Porta B
Pic de Peguera, 15
17003 Girona
Tel. +34 972 41 98 59




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