Fertilizer giant banks on aquaponics

Fertilizer giant banks on aquaponics

From manure to lettuce: the German fertilizer manufacturer K+S is giving the circular economy a whirl and has set up an aquaponics container in Kassel for research purposes.

Fische und Pflanzen nutzen sich bei Aquaponic gegenseitig: Was die Fische ausscheiden, wird durch Bakterien aufbereitet und dient dann als Dünger für die Pflanzen. Die Pflanzen reinigen im Gegenzug das Wasser der Fische.
Aquaponic results in fish and plants supporting each other: What fish discharge is processed by bacteria and then serves as a fertilizer for plants. On the other hand, the plants purify the water in which the fish swim.

New concepts for the cultivation of food in urban environments are in demand to ensure food security for future generations. Under the umbrella term"urban farming", methods like aquaponics have proven to be a promising alternative. The combination of fish and plants, which use each other in a recirculation system to grow tomatoes and lettuce, not only saves arable land, but above all fertilizer and water. Fish excretion is processed into plant fertilizer by bacteria. In return, the hydroponic plants purify the water of the fish in the aquarium.

Growing salad with carp

Fertilizer specialist K+S also intends to expand its research pipeline in aquaponics. For this purpose, a glass research container was recently set up at its headquarters in Kassel. Here carp will make lettuce grow. "We are also looking at new business sectors in which we are not active yet but for which we have the necessary basic skills," Alexa Hergenröther explains the idea of dealing more intensively with aquaponics. “We already possess very sound knowledge and skills in the area of liquid fertilization. It is essential to view things from a broader perspective in order to continue being successful in the future as well.”

Aquaponics for the public

However, the container is not only available to K+S researchers. Interested partiescan view the pilot plant from outside. There is a reason for the container standing in front of the company headquarters: “In this way, we want to keep on engaging in a dialogue with the citizens of Kassel,” explains Burkhard Lohr, Chairman of the Board of Executive Directors of K+S.

Start-up Cooperation

In addition, K+S has set up its own InnovationLab in Kassel to drive innovations forward. Here, the fertilizer specialist relies in particular on cooperation with start-ups and their promotion.