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ผู้เขียน หัวข้อ: Diving into aquaculture  (อ่าน 2747 ครั้ง)
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« เมื่อ: พฤศจิกายน 16, 2006, 11:22:05 PM »

Source: Centre Daily  World News    15/11/2006 23:02:55
Source or related URL: http://www.centredaily.com

 
Elaine Gaston

They grow poinsettias to sell and give away at Christmas. They nurture young plants to ready them for a huge spring sale.

 

And now, members of the Carolina Forest High School FFA and horticulture students are raising tilapia, a tropical fish they hope to later market to local seafood outlets and donate to charitable groups, such as Street Reach and the Horry County Shelter Home.

 

Students with assistance from their adviser, Harry DuBose, are growing hundreds of fish in a recirculating system the group has created inside the school greenhouse at Carolina Forest High School as part of an aquaculture project, the students' latest venture to raise funds for the school as well as give back to the community.

 

The idea was spawned by Cameron Kessler, a junior and president of the school's FFA club, and William Edens, also a junior and the club's vice president.

 

"We wanted to do something new and different," Kessler said. "As soon as we got the fish, everybody was so excited. The students really liked the idea."

 

DuBose was initially reluctant because of the amount of work he knew would be required to make it happen and keep it operational. But because of the students' enthusiasm and willingness to try, DuBose agreed to get behind them.

 

"They are really excited about it, and are finding out how much work it is," DuBose said. "We're sticking our necks out here and giving nights and weekends."

 

DuBose also has enlisted the help of experts in the industry, inviting them to share tips and speak to the students about the aquaculture industry, the fastest-growing segment of U.S. agriculture because of declining wild stocks caused by overfishing and environmental changes. Among the guest speakers last week was Jack Whetstone, an extension aquaculture specialist with Clemson University and the S.C. Sea Grant, who praised the students' efforts to dabble in aquaculture and offered encouragement to remain steadfast.

 

"I think it's wonderful," Whetstone said. "It's a great way for them to learn so many different things - from math and science to the biology of fish, economics and sustainable environments. I know of no other high school [in South Carolina] close to doing this type of thing."

 

Students were able to get much of what they needed, including the fish, donated to the school. A 1,200-gallon irrigation tank now home to nearly 500 tilapia sits across from several tables blanketed with red poinsettia plants inside the greenhouse. Students in the horticulture program help keep the greenhouse clean, feed the fish, clean the fish tank and care for the poinsettias and other plants.

 

Ultimately, the students involved in the aquaculture project hope to develop a sustainable ecosystem that will enable them to recycle the fish waste to nurture the greenhouse plants.

 

"We're not there yet, and it's not perfect, but that is what we'd like to do," DuBose said.

 

The students also are coming up with innovative ways to reduce the amount of time needed to tend to the plants. For instance, they've developed a fertigation system that will water and feed fertilizer to the poinsettias.

 

"That way we don't have to do it by hand," Kessler said.

 

They're also working on developing a programmable system that will work automatically on weekends to maintain the plants.

 

"It's a full-time job out here," Kessler said.

 

Learning how to maintain the fish has been the bigger challenge. They know they must continue to maintain water quality and figure out a way to sustain them through the winter as temperatures dip lower. They know they'll have to add a bigger tank once the fish outgrow the one they're in. But they're preparing for the challenge by researching and soliciting input from green industry experts.

 

"It's hard," Kessler said. "We knew nothing coming into it. ... We'd like to come out better than when we started."

 
 
 
 
 
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