IoT in Aquaponics
Food is a basic need of every person. However, in today’s world, the space for agricultural production is decreasing due to narrower lands. Traditional farming has its drawbacks of being overly dependent on climate conditions, soil quality, chemical fertilizers, and pesticides – factors that are highly volatile and susceptible to constant fluctuations. Without adopting more sustainable practices, there could be almost a 10 percent drop in food production by 2070.
To overcome these challenges, technologies like hydroponics (growing plants without soil) and aquaponics (a combination of hydroponics and aquaculture) which integrate IoT (Internet of Things) for optimum food production are becoming popular.
What is aquaponics?
Aquaponics is a sustainable agriculture system that combines the growing of fish and other aquatic animals (aquaculture) with the growing of vegetables or plants (hydroponics) in a symbiotic environment. Plants are fed the aquatic animal’s discharge or waste and in return, they help clean the water that goes back to the fish. Microbes play a major role in the nutrition of these plants as they convert the fish waste and solids into substances that the plants can use to grow. This technology is emerging as a big hope for sustainable organic crop production and a highly efficient method that solves the problems of optimum water use and limited farmlands.
What are the applications of IoT in aquaponics?
Modern aquaponics systems can be highly successful but they require intensive monitoring, control, and management. IoT-enabled aquaponics systems on the other hand can provide the opportunity to improve the quality of the produce grown with minimal effort and automation of processes.
The latter can be highly useful to farmers in the following ways:
- The water temperature, surrounding temperature, humidity, pH factor,and the total amount of dissolved oxygen in the aquaponics system can be remotely monitored and controlled using IoT smart sensors. The retrieved data can be transmitted to an IoT cloud server and accessed in real-time through the internet network via a message on a smartphone or a computer, allowing the user to make changes as and when required. Grow lights and water pumps can also be automatically turned on or off and even sensitive parameters such as the ammonia content, degree of acidity, water levels, and quantity of fish feed can be monitored. This decreases the need for manual labor and preserves quality and water circulation.
Unfavorable conditions for plants and fishes can be identified by monitoring various parameters of water like pH level, turbidity, dissolved oxygen, ammonium, and so on. All the data acquired by the sensors can be uploaded to an IoT analytics platform service that provides real-time visualization and analysis. IoT-enabled solutions not only identify KPIs (key performance indicators) like the above but also help to
- forecast the water requirement for the aquaponics system,
- provide feedback and control of the biological components so that any serious problems can be detected, reported, and displayed on a user interface
- ensure predictive maintenance of the equipment and
- analyze vegetable and fish productivity
- IoT platforms can also provide an economic analysis service whereby data on fish size, water quality, feeding patterns, energy use, supply source, and weather conditions can be collected using feeders, mobile devices, and sensors. Combined with other data, algorithms can work together and provide recommendations such as remote maintenance, optimal harvest dates, and feeding management strategies.
What are the benefits of using IoT in aquaponics?
The benefits of using a combination of IoT and aquaponics include
- Digitization of environmental parameters into an easily-readable output.
- Maintenance of stable conditions in the system with the help of IoT devices and sensors for controlling temperature & humidity, pH, light intensity, ammonia, water temperature and dissolved oxygen.
- Continuous monitoring of data and issuance of trigger alerts allowing farmers to make necessary adjustments from remote locations.
- Automating repetitive tasks like regulating the flow of water when certain parameters are reached by using intelligent algorithms to control switches.
- Analysis of the sensor’s feedback by data visualization and analytics platforms that measure KPIs and offer recommendations for higher yield and sustainability.
- Predictive analysis of the data sets which can help generate insights into future events through machine learning modules and indicate specific actions to be taken to avoid event occurrence (part replacement, maintenance activities run etc.).
Automation of aquaponic systems with IoT facilitates the maintenance of a healthy ecosystem that is conducive to the growth of fish and plants while pushing the real-time parameters, notifications and insights to key stakeholders for swift actions. We can safely say that IoT in aquaponics has the potential to evolve as a game-changer in the future of sustainable food production.
IoT-enabled solutions can be the difference between success and failure for a farmer, an academician, a commercial grower, or any individual who uses aquaponics or hydroponics systems.
We provide next-generation sensors, visualization platforms, and customizable analytics modules with increased intelligence, reliability, and improved accuracy specifications. Our technologies can empower and strengthen your business, providing you with a wide array of solutions ranging from predictive maintenance to remote monitoring to real-time analytics and data visualization. Reach out to us in case you have any questions or simply want to know more!