Investigating the Viability of Passive Aquaponics Systems: Sustainable Approaches to Eliminating External Heating Requirements

Project Overview

Project Type: Farmer/Rancher
Funds awarded in 2024: $25,000.00
Projected End Date: 10/30/2026
Host Institution Award ID: G254-24-WA507
Grant Recipient: Edible Acres
Region: Western
State: Washington
Principal Investigator:
Rachel Feston
Edible Acres


  • Agronomic: rice
  • Vegetables: celery, greens (leafy)
  • Additional Plants: herbs


  • Education and Training: demonstration
  • Energy: energy conservation/efficiency
  • Production Systems: aquaponics

    Proposal summary:

    My research project is centered on the evaluation of crop
    sustainability within a cold-water aquaponics system, employing a
    deep-water methodology. The primary objective is to establish the
    feasibility of plant cultivation in this system without the
    necessity of external heating. This is achieved through the
    utilization of cold-resistant plants and bacteria.

    The project's success will be measured by assessing the volume of
    produce cultivated and sold in local markets and food hubs, with
    the project's financial viability determined by analyzing the net
    profit margin at the end of the season.

    Additionally, the research incorporates a control aquaponics bed
    to provide a comparative basis for the evaluation.

    By showcasing the potential of aquaponics systems and seasonal
    crop cultivation in the state of Washington, this project offers
    a resource-efficient and cost-effective alternative for
    individuals interested in adopting aquaponic farming practices.
    This approach eliminates the need for costly heating systems.
    Furthermore, the project serves as an educational platform,
    emphasizing the adaptability of aquaponic systems throughout
    different seasons.

    Dissemination of the project's findings will occur through
    various channels, including workshops, article publications,
    lectures, and online platforms, enabling broad outreach and
    awareness. This comprehensive approach ensures effective
    communication of the project's message, fostering understanding
    and engagement among diverse audiences.

    Project objectives from proposal:

    The central objective of this project revolves around assessing
    the feasibility of cultivating crops in a cold-water aquaponics
    system, utilizing a deep-water methodology to ensure long-term
    sustainability. To gauge the effectiveness of this approach, we
    will closely monitor the quantity of crops sold in local markets
    and neighboring food hubs, with a keen focus on evaluating its
    financial viability, measured through the net profit margin at
    the season's conclusion. We will also be implementing a heated
    system as a control for comparative analysis.

    Through this initiative, we aim to underscore the considerable
    potential of aquaponics within the state of Washington. Our
    intent is to highlight the array of seasonal produce that can be
    successfully cultivated without the necessity of expensive
    heating systems. We aspire to provide an alternative perspective
    on sustainable farming, offering a model that can inspire and
    guide others within the agricultural community.

    Furthermore, this project carries significant educational value.
    By showcasing a sustainable aquaponics system that aligns with
    the constraints of seasonal growth, we aim to facilitate
    knowledge dissemination and encourage the adoption of
    environmentally friendly practices within the broader aquaponics


    Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture or SARE.