A new application of a system called aquaponics could spell the creation of a new team of superfriends: fish and cannabis.
Habitat, a BC-based agricultural startup, thinks that the best and most efficient way to grow cannabis — and fish — is in a self-contained environment that reduces waste and, according to one of its founders, pollution.
"What we're able to do by linking the two systems together … we complete the symbiosis between the two, almost [to] where all the waste streams that the fish are producing are the elements that plants require and the C02 is absorbed by the plants."
Aquaponics, according to a document published by the Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations, is the integration of recirculating aquaculture and hydroponics in one production system.
In this system, fish waste is typically removed from the water through a two-stage filtering process, including a mechanical filter to remove solid waste and then through a biofilter that processes the dissolved waste.
"The biofilter provides a location for bacteria to convert ammonia, which is toxic for fish, into nitrate, a more accessible nutrient for plants. This process is called nitrification, "reads the FAO's paper.
Rudi Schiebel and Laine Keyes, both originally medical users of cannabis, their interest in regenerative and sustainable agriculture led the duo to adapt aquaponics systems to suit the unique needs of both cannabis and the fish, something Schiebel says is difficult to achieve using the technology.
"Fish farms today, they still produce a large amount of CO2, as well as a contaminated waste stream," said Schiebel, "as a lot of the waste and uneaten fish feed would end up going out to a septic system."