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Research proves economic and ecological value EcoFutura
Combi cultivation fish and tomatoes has a future

The combi cultivation of fish and tomatoes has a future. This is apparent from the final report EcoFutura, which was published this week after a two year long research program at the Improvement Centre in Bleiswijk. The research took place in a tomato hothouse coupled with the cultivation of tilapias. According to the report combi cultivation in one hothouse is technically feasible and economically and ecologically profitable. The research shows that growing fish in a combi hothouse is a lot cheaper than in a separate fish nursery. The tomato cultivation also receives financial advantages of the combined production. In addition this project has proven
the name EcoFutura as being durable. Firstly because the fish and tomatoes make use of each others recyclable elements, but also the problem of overfishing is prevented.

EcoFutura, which is a cooperation between Aqua Terra Nova, Green Q, Groen Agro Control and Priva, is based on the Cradle-to Cradle philosophy and is therefore durable.The plant uses the minerals, left behind by the fish, dissolved in the water.
The use of fertilizer is drastically reduced because of this. Also the solid particles in the water do not go to waste. These are filtered out and via co-fermentation changed into bio-gas or used for soil improvement. The heat which is released when growing tomatoes is in turn used to heat the fish tanks. In addition CO2, which is produced by the fish, is directly absorbed by the tomato plants. Consequently there is no CO2-emission. To close the Cradle-to-Cradle circle completely only one challenge remains. Willem Kemmers (Priva), project leader EcoFutura: The remaining water from horticulture could in the future be used to grow algae and seaweed, which can then be used to feed the fish.
From an economic viewpoint the combi cultivation seems to be very appealing. Both the tomato cultivation and the fish growth have financial advantages, because of the coupling. The fish breeder can use rainwater instead of expensive springwater or tapwater. In addition no sewerage charges are payable for the waste water of the fish. As mentioned less fertilizer is required as the plants withdraw minerals from the water from the fish, who receive for this project specially developed mineral rich fishfood. Also energy is very often cheaper in a hothouse environment. And important for the grower : the annual proceeds per square meter combi fish cultivation is also higher than for instance the proceeds for tomatoes and peppers per square meter. Growing fish in a hothouse also has advantages in the areas of food safety, quality and guaranteed origin.

Kemmers emphasizes that the combi concept is durable and therefore is in accordance with standpoints regarding long lasting fish of various NGO's, such as WNF, Greenpeace and St.Noordzee. 'In this way entrepreneurs are stimulated to start a business like this'. The regional authorities also play a role when developing the combi cultivation further. Suggestions are forming part of the report with regard to town planning. At this moment nowhere near all zoning plans allow fish cultivation in horticultural areas.
EcoFutura is mainly concerned with niche markets for fish cultivation in the Netherlands according to Kemmers. 'One should think e.g. of restaurants, who want to serve durable and fresh quality, cultivated in a responsible manner. We cannot and will not compete with the very cheap deep-frozen fish from Asia'.
In the future other fish and plants will be cultivated as well. EcoFutura is in discussion with two entrepreneurs, both of whom want to realise a combi culture during 2009. Other entrepreneurs intending to start combination cultivation can
contact EcoFutura. 

Publication date: 4/14/2009


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