The number of people on our planet is increasing rapidly, if not exponentially, making the resources needed to cater to their need also grow exponentially. The space and resources available on our planet remain constant. It hurts to see someone waste food, especially when a billion people in the world are suffering from hunger. These people in impoverished countries are malnourished because purchasing nutritious food is expensive due to the slow and long process of crop raising on farmland. How are the farmers supposed to grow more and more crops to serve the growing population with the same amount of land they have?
Of all the crops in the world, an important one is the tomato. The healthy source of vitamins, fiber, and lycopene antioxidants is an essential part of the diet of many countries. The crop is grown all over the world, the greatest producer being the United States, supplying over a third of the tomatoes in the world!
According to the Agricultural Marketing Resource Center, 2.89 billion pounds of tomatoes were harvested in 2010, in the United States. These tomatoes were grown on 93 thousand acres of land, mostly in California and Florida. California produces about 1.2 billion pounds of tomatoes on 38.1 thousand acres. It has to juggle the largest population and the largest crop land usage in the US. It has to make more space and produce more crop for an increasing population, a herculean task for any state. Techniques have arisen that increase efficiency in crop production, such as a technology that uniformly spreads the fertilizer across the crops, a meter that monitors chlorophyll levels in plants to tell when nitrogen fertilization is needed, a remote sensor that detects where water is needed, or an invention that pauses and resumes irrigation flow when needed, but water and fertilizer still get wasted, and the acreage of land usage is still the same. With an extra 2 billion mouths to feed in 40 years, methods of crop production have to be taken from an entirely new approach. We need aquaponics.
In aquaponics, plants are grown directly over tanks filled with fish. The plants do not grow on soil, but instead their roots hang into the water. Like in any aquarium, the fish produce waste. But in this mutualistic system, bacteria in the tank convert this nitrogen rich waste into a form useable by the plants. The plants absorb these nutrients, and the tank is left pure. The plants get nutrients from a natural source, the fish tank is left clean, keeping the fish healthy, and the bacteria gets a food source. With aquaponics, the water usage is 90% less than on a farm, and fertilizers are unnecessary because the plant food comes from the fish. The only extra product needed to be added to the system is fish feed. Because the crop isn't strained by an excess or deficiency of water, plants grow up to 50% faster. This definitely increases the quality of the tomatoes, but with the exploding population in many countries, we must...