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Aquaponics - Farming With a Fishing Rod

Green Lifestyle  (tags: Good News, Israel, Aquaponics, sustainability, food )

- 1650 days ago -
LivinGreen's pioneering Israeli method combines aquaculture and hydroponics to create better farming for a hungry planet.

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Beth S (330)
Wednesday December 11, 2013, 9:28 pm
Chinese proverb: Give a man a fish, and you feed him for the day. Give him a fishing rod and feed him for life.

New Israeli proverb: Give a man a fishing rod and a hydroponics farm, and you give him food and sustainable income for life.

The new Israeli proverb could be summed up in a word as aquaponics.

Moti Cohen is pioneering a new spin on an old method, in Israel. His approach is a combination of aquaculture (fish farming) and hydroponics (growing plants on water).

He’s building aquaponics farms and is consulting for agencies, such as the United Nations, on how to make aquafarms successful.

The idea is to create a circular farm that provides people with fish and plants to eat in a closed loop. The crops feed off the waste created by the fish, while the fish thrive on the oxygen made by the crops. Both become an important source of nutrients for the people –– with no waste, fertilizer or much water needed.

The “brilliant” idea is an age-old one, Cohen says. It is just starting to see a modern revival.

In ancient Asia, for instance, rice growers discovered they got better yield when fish were in the rice paddies following floods. The Aztecs, too, developed aquaponics, and there are still people around the word growing using this method, Cohen tells ISRAEL21c.

“It is an ancient method that we can bring up to speed now that we have electricity and fish ponds and great technologies to make aquaponics better than it ever has been,” he says.

The new movement is still young. “We are talking about dozens of years. We are still missing a lot of experts and refining the growing methods. People are inventing new things every day, and the promise is huge.”

Cohen’s private company based in Hofit, Israel, is called LivinGreen Urban Ecosystems. They have built nearly 1,000 aquaponics systems, mostly based on individual needs.

Some are do-it-yourself kits, while in other instances Cohen will operate as a special consultant to NGOs or aid agencies to help them get their self-sustaining farms off the ground and sometimes off the grid.

Systems built with customers in mind

“Our approach is to the customer,” he says. “This is our main advantage. We are not just doing aquaponics.

“For instance, there is a hotel in Zanzibar and we have started talking about doing projects there. They have to buy all their fish and plants to eat from the mainland. But we can support the hotel in an integrated system right on the island.

“We can also connect with Israeli companies like Eco Gas, using hydroponics and biogas, so it really varies.”

The beauty of it all is that the “farms” can be built on rooftops or vertically, wherever space or land might be a challenge. Cohen has consulted for the United Nation’s Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) with UK partner Christopher Somerville. Together they wrote the aquaponics manual for the FAO.

Cohen has given technical support even to urban farmers in Gaza, the West Bank and Jordan. With Somerville, he is working to advise a group in Ethiopia on building “smart fish” greenhouses. There is another non-profit in Cambodia.

Aquaponics provides fish and crops in a closed-loop system.

LivinGreen employs four people and was founded in 2010. Cohen, 32, studied at the School of Marine Sciences in Michmoret, not far from Hofit on the Mediterranean shore.

Today, led by Cohen, the unique company provides complete systems with consulting, special consultancy and supplies, as well as fish.

Researchers fine-tuning fish farms

Ben-Gurion University researcher Dina Zilberg heads a lab working to improve fish health on fish farms.

She says that while the scientific evidence is not yet there, she is sure that aquaponics –– rearing fish in ponds with plants in water that consume fish waste –– is much healthier for the fish than if they were without the plants.

Fish farming can be a pretty stressful environment for the fish, she says. She sees it in their fatty livers, probably from poor feed, or overfeeding, and what happens when one “rotten apple” of a fish can contaminate and kill others in the closed-loop system.

The main difficulty she sees with the widespread use of aquaponics is that it requires a certain amount of expertise in both fish health and plants. “In all these integrated systems, you need to be an expert while producing both plants and fish intensively. From what I know, many of the plants don’t do such a good job in removing all the nutrients and a biological filter is still required,” she tells ISRAEL21c.

She thinks aquaponics might make the most sense for family farmers who might be operating smaller units for their own consumption.

Cohen agrees that aquaponics is not suitable for every place and time, and is not a silver-bullet answer for developing nations.

LivinGreen systems cost about $1,000 and up. Customers can expect about 80 pounds of fish a year from the most basic and small systems –– with lettuce and veggies aplenty.

To learn more about LivinGreen, see

Helen Porter (39)
Wednesday December 11, 2013, 9:47 pm
Israel may well become the solver of our planet's problems.

Scripture promised that all would be blessed through Israel.

I think the least we can do is bless them back.

Hilary S (65)
Thursday December 12, 2013, 12:40 am
and this is the israel the arabs would like to eliminate, and bds would like to boycott? the mad ones are the idiots who follow anti-semitic bigotry like sheep.

patrica and edw jones (190)
Thursday December 12, 2013, 1:34 am
A very admirable approach to a rapidly declining resource(our oceans are rapidly being fished out). However IMHO - reducing the number of humans on the planet would also be of considerable help.

Stephen G (9)
Thursday December 12, 2013, 4:34 am
Great idea. How about donating some of your aquaponics to your neighbours in Palestine?

Jonathan Harper (0)
Thursday December 12, 2013, 4:54 am

. (0)
Thursday December 12, 2013, 6:51 am
Neat! Thanks for sharing, Beth.

Beth S (330)
Thursday December 12, 2013, 7:16 am
Stephen Gabriel,

I can see that you're quick to jump to negative conclusions about Israel before reading what's in front of your face. So let me help you out here and point out what is just a few paragraphs above what you wrote in the article.

"Cohen has given technical support even to urban farmers in Gaza, the West Bank and Jordan. With Somerville, he is working to advise a group in Ethiopia on building “smart fish” greenhouses. There is another non-profit in Cambodia."


Carol Dreeszen (346)
Thursday December 12, 2013, 9:06 am
Leave it to Israel to come up with another saving technique for mankind!

Helen Porter (39)
Thursday December 12, 2013, 2:03 pm
Stephen, if you want to look like an egg head you'd do well to do your research BEFORE you open your mouth and move your fingers.

Theodore Shayne (56)
Thursday December 12, 2013, 2:11 pm
Noted & posted

Ira Herson (13)
Thursday December 12, 2013, 2:57 pm
I worked on a Kibbutz 1n 1970 on a fish farm providing carp and trout. It was amazing that there was a constant source of fish. We could wade out with nets and have a harvest by the thousands.

After 40 years I can only imagine that now the technologies have improved.

A cousin of mine has won medals from the Turkish and Korean governments for helping them with this technology as well irrigation and agriculture.

It is typical to find that any positive statement about Israel will be met by the usual anti-Semites.

Here is a little link that shows some of the ways Israel has developed ways to improve food stocks around the world. Very innovative.

Beth S (330)
Thursday December 12, 2013, 3:36 pm
Thanks for that URL, Ira.

That's wonderful that you had that experience on a kibbutz. It must have been very rewarding, as Israel comes up with amazing ways to making the most out of the little, thinking outside of the box, and then sharing the technology with the world.

You are right, BTW, that the ratio of good that Israel does for the world is so high compared to any wrongs it may have done in simply trying to exist, that the vast majority of against it criticism is born out of ignorance and/or anti-Semitism. It is a tiny, new country with an unparalleled giving to so many.

Ira Herson (13)
Thursday December 12, 2013, 4:46 pm
Thanks Beth,

I did enjoy my time there. I was on 3 different Kibbutzim and each taught me a lot about food production and farming techniques. I later got to join a group of Lutheran missionaries in central India digging tube wells. I want to stress that I am not a religious person, it is just good to see people doing good.

I have posted on many occasions that people are not anti-Semitic because of Israel they are anti-Israel because they are anti-Semitic.

If it was called the Islamic republic of killerstan there would be no problem. There would also be no innovation or democracy.

Beth S (330)
Thursday December 12, 2013, 5:06 pm
That's very cool, digging tube wells. I have never heard of them, but it sounds like a wonderful experience

Exactly, very well said, Ira, about the anti-Semitic/Israel issue.

It's also that the Arab world (and Shia) has a propaganda machine, second to none. It has been very, very useful for Islamic theocracies, thugocracies, kleptocracies, regimes, etc., to keep the spotlight of their own far more horrendous sins by getting their ignorant masses to fume at Israel rather than what's going on at home, that's much worse.

So here we are with Saudi Arabia -- a corrupt and abusive theocracy if ever there were one -- working with Israel to try to put a stop to Iranian (and Turkish) nuclear ambitions and expansionism. Who could make this stuff up?!

Be well.
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