Growing fresh basil aquaculture has its own set of challenges, especially when it comes to the water.
A new study from the University of Adelaide shows that growing a single-acre garden using only water is not sufficient to meet the growing requirements.
“We’ve looked at the potential of aquaponic systems in terms of water and growth,” said lead author Dr David Smith, an associate professor in the School of Agricultural and Biological Sciences.
A study by Smith and his colleagues at the University’s Department of Food Science and Technology found that only one-third of the aquaponical systems they studied grew enough fresh basil to meet growing requirements, which was lower than what was expected.
The researchers also found that aquaponically growing basil did not offer any benefits to the environment.
“If you’re growing basil at home and it doesn’t taste good, it doesn [feed the environment],” Smith said.
One potential way to increase the quality of the basil plant’s environment is by growing basil outdoors in gardens or in terraces.
Smith said growing basil in a garden can be an effective way to grow plants in a different part of the world, since it’s not affected by climate change and it’s always growing.
“It doesn’t have to be like you’ve got to grow all the basil in one spot, it can be in different locations and different locations in different places,” Smith said, adding that it’s possible to grow basil in places where it isn’t native.
Smith’s group also looked at aquaponica systems where the plant grows in a pond and then returns to a garden to provide nutrients for other plants, which would be beneficial for the environment as well.
They found that growing basil on a pond does not result in more water and nutrients being produced, but it could be more effective if the pond has water quality that’s high enough to meet nutrient requirements for growing basil.
To test their results, the researchers planted a single plant in a 1,000-square-metre terrace and a single tree in a 500-square metre terrace.
Both plants were grown with a mix of water, nutrients and humidity levels, but only one was used.
Water quality and nutrient requirements are important to basil growers because the plant’s roots are very good at capturing nutrients and water.
But Smith said he hopes that the results from the study can be used to make better decisions about basil aquascaping.
“We’re interested in what can be done to improve water quality and nutrition and then if we’re able to do that we can then grow a more diverse variety of basil, so that it can grow in different parts of the country and be used more efficiently in different environments,” he said.
Smith said there’s already a lot of interest in aquaponia systems in Australia.
There are currently over 700 aquaponicas in cultivation, with a total of 1,600 hectares of land and over 30 different aquacultures operating in Australia, he said, with more than half of those aquacultural systems being in Queensland.
Although the research study was published in the journal PLOS ONE, Smith said the researchers will be making future experiments to see how the aquacraft systems compare to those used in the United States and Europe.
In the future, Smith is also looking at how aquaponice systems can be applied to water management.
If aquaponiculture is able to grow and flourish in other parts of Australia, it could help meet the needs of Australia’s growing population, he suggested.