First aquaponic solar greenhouse unveiled at farm and education centre

Television presenter Kate Humble has unveiled what is claimed to be the UK's first aquaponic solar greenhouse at her farm and education centre in Monmouthshire.

Kate Humble - image: Humble by Nature
Kate Humble - image: Humble by Nature

Designed and installed in collaboration with scientists Charlie Price and Becky Bainbridge of Aquaponics UK, a social enterprise, the 12x7m structure's passive thermal design captures and stores a maximal amount solar energy before releasing it into the greenhouse at night, when it is insulated.

Growing is a closed-loop system because vegetable beds are fed by the nutrient-rich water taken from tanks housing tilapia fish, with water purified by the plants then recirculated.

The fish are fed on worms from an adjacent wormery that also yields a "worm tea" for the crops. No chemical fertilisers or pesticides are used, with bio-controls used to keep pests down.

Bainbridge said: "We even tried chameleons to eat the pests, but in fact they just ate everything."

It is expected to yield 30-35kg of fresh produce a week, which is more than adequate to supply the farm's cafe and restaurant.

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