I just wanted to pop on a post about this as its a vital part of everything we do on the farm. A fairly complicated title for something that’s actually completely logical and fairly simple to put into action.
So a closed loop system is officially put as a control system where the output is monitored and fed back into the system.
So put into simple gardening terms an example would be growing veg and plants and putting the cuttings into a compost heap the product of which is added back into the garden to grow more produce. See simple really.
Although when you farm, as we do, the amount of closed loop systems increases exponentially. Encouraging closed loop systems is an ideal way of farming in an organic way with organic principles at the heart of what we do. Closed loops are meant to be self sustaining with no added chemicals.
Loop One: Our main loop is we house fish which poo. This water with added poo is pumped round and used to feed valuable nutrients to the plants which in turn clean the water which is then pumped back to the fish. This nutrient rich water sometimes needs to be flushed in order to keep the nutrients at the right levels. Instead of wasting this water we use it to water and fertilize the flower farm outside the polytunnel. This gives us a second loop.
The veg we produce gives us green waste which we use in our wormery. We are now introducing our third loop . The worms turn our green waste into lovely compost which we use on our flower farm beds each winter.
This also gives us a fourth loop. The worms breed and increased worms gives us extra nutrition for our fish keeping them nice and healthy.
We are experimenting with a fifth loop in which the nutrient rich water is allowed to go through a tank where algae growth is encouraged. This tank will be used to feed small shrimp which in turn will be used to feed the fish increasing the food groups for our fish to keep them healthy.
Although aquaponics is based on growing with water it is actually less water wasteful than growing in the ground. This being said we do need to top the system up every now and again but we do this by collecting and storing rainwater. This replaces the loss through evaporation and plant use.
We plan on introducing a seventh loop. We will use the humidity produced by the system to grow fantastic mushroom varieties. These mushrooms will grow on a natural substrate that will later be composted when it is exhausted. This also helps the worms feeding back into that loop.
Closed loop systems are not just a gimmick they give real tangible results that help us to produce healthy produce in an environmentally friendly way reducing our farms footprint.
We produce a full meal under one roof and the flowers to decorate the table.