Waste Transformation Farming (WTF) is a productive, resilient and sustainable food production system.
It’s about identifying and categorising organic waste streams – and adding value to them – before using them to produce clean, fresh organic food– while reducingthe need to purchase feedstuffs, fertilisers and soil amendments.
The secret to WTF is integration. Integration, in a farming context, is where food production systems are linked to each other to enable the waste from one organism to become the feedstock for other organisms.
Aquaponics/iAVs is an example of integration in which aquaculture and horticulture are combined. The fish are fed and produce waste that is converted to plant nutrients. The plants take up the nutrients and, in so doing, clean the water for the fish.
Integrated systems are always more than the sum of their parts. They’re the combination of leveraging elements that are the functional equivalent of 2+2=5 (or more).
In the aquaponics example, we get fish and vegetables for the same amount of fish feed that it would take to just grow the fish. We also get two crops for the same amount of water – a cost saving…and a huge environmental benefit.
Of course, WTF is not limited to aquaponics.
It’s an infinitely scalable food production system which embraces many ‘organisms’ including:
- Vegetables and herbs
- Freshwater fish and crayfish
- Japanese Quail
- Fruit and nut trees
- Ducks and other waterfowl
- Aquatic plants – duckweed, azolla, water spinach, Chinese water chestnuts
- Fodder plants and trees – pigeon pea, amaranth, comfrey, Chou Moellier, tagasaste and moringa
- Live animal protein – Black Soldier Fly larvae, feeder roaches, mealworms, worms
- Farmed rabbits
- Sheep and goats
The thing that all of these organisms have in common with each other is that they generate some type of waste that eventually presents as a problem. WTF turns problems into opportunities.
The next article will address how waste transformation farming works at a practical level.
If waste transformation farming interests you, and you’d like to talk about it with other like-minded people, feel free to take up membership of my Have More For Less forum.