Get feet wet in aquaponics at FSR

Sep. 28, 2016

Two talks at the Sept. 20-22 Farm Science Review will dive into aquaponics.

“There’s growing interest in aquaponics in the Midwest,” said Matthew Smith, an aquaculture specialist with The Ohio State University who will give the talks. “People like the idea of the marriage between fish and plants.”

The Review is an annual agricultural trade show in London, about 25 miles west of Columbus. Its sponsor is Ohio State’s College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences.

Smith is with the college’s outreach arm, Ohio State University Extension.

Aquaponics merges aquaculture with hydroponics and wastewater management, he said. It combines tilapia and lettuce, for example, or koi and basil, or catfish and strawberries growing together in integrated, “closed-loop” systems. Water and waste from the fish are recycled to irrigate and fertilize the plants.

Local-food, environmental benefits

The practice has benefits for water quality, sustainability and the grower’s bottom line, Smith said.

It’s also good for local food choices and people’s nutrition, he said.

“There’s a noticeable trend throughout agriculture for local, sustainable produce and fish,” he said. “This lets consumers know exactly where their food is coming from.

“Also, fish are high in protein and are a staple in many countries’ diets. There’s a strong push by consumers to bring more fish into their diets.”

At 10 a.m., 2:30 p.m. Sept. 21 

“Aquaponics: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly,” which Smith said will focus on commercial production, is at 10 a.m. Sept. 21 in the Review’s Small Farm Tent.

“Aquaponics,” a basic talk on hobby and home systems, is from 2:30 to 3 p.m. Sept. 21 in the Review’s Gwynne Conservation Area.

Smith and others also will give related talks on hydroponics - at noon Sept. 20 in the Small Farm Tent and at 2 p.m. Sept. 21 in the Gwynne Conservation Area - and on aquaculture - at 12:30 p.m. Sept. 21 in the Small Farm Building.

Other talks, too

Complete schedules of the some three dozen talks in the Gwynne area and two dozen in the Small Farm Center are available at and

All the talks are included with admission to the Review, which is $7 in advance, $10 at the gate, and free for children 5 and younger.

In all, the Review will have more than 100 educational presentations, 600 exhibitors and 4,000 product lines. Organizers expect total attendance to top 110,000. Hours are 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sept. 20-21 and 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sept. 22. Details are at