UW-S aquaponics helps pantries


LIZ KROLL (RIGHT), director of the Sheboygan County Food Bank, receives a donation of romaine lettuce from UW-Sheboygan Professor Mark Schmitz. — Submitted photo LIZ KROLL (RIGHT), director of the Sheboygan County Food Bank, receives a donation of romaine lettuce from UW-Sheboygan Professor Mark Schmitz. — Submitted photo An aquaponics project under the direction of UW-Sheboygan’s Biological Sciences Professor, Mark Schmitz, combines aquaculture (raising fish) and hydroponics (soil-less growing of plants). The most recent result is almost 100 heads of beautiful romaine lettuce that was donated to the Sheboygan County Food Bank (for distribution to area food pantries) and Nourish Farms in Sheboygan.

The small greenhouse (located behind the biology lab) is used to maximum advantage, with the lettuce growing on horizontal trays as well as vertical tubes along the walls. Amidst the lettuce are tall cucumber vines.

UW-Sheboygan students monitor water levels (measuring ammonia, nitrite and nitrate levels) while learning how the system converts the ammonia from fish waste into nitrites, then into nitrates and the solids into vermicompost that are food for the plants.

The community benefits with donations of produce. In addi- tion to leafy green vegetables, Professor Schmitz has grown basil, oregano, chives, peppers and strawberries in the six years he has managed the Aquaponics project.

The fish are harvested twice a year and used by Lakeshore Technical College’s culinary program.


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