Killingly High School breaks down how adding a ‘hydroponics’ and ‘aquaponics’ class encourages sustainability

Whats Right With Schools

KILLINGLY, Conn. (WTNH) — At Killingly High School over the past few years, they’ve truly enhanced their Agriculture Education Program. They’ve added a hydroponics and aquaponics class to help encourage sustainability.  

Beth Knowlton is a plant science teacher at Killingly and has been for about fifteen years. She tells News 8 hydroponics is a fairly new career in the AG industry, “The future holds us growing plants in warehouse buildings and things in inner cities so we can provide a local food source.”  

It’s a unique way of agriculture, that relies solely on the light and water in the greenhouse, using no soil at all.   

They grow everything from cucumbers to tomatoes and kale.  

They’re hoping to add to their hydroponics greenhouse, a misting system. They’ll be able to plant strawberries and have their roots continually misted from the inside, helping them grow.  

Just down the hall, Courtney Cardinal teaches her aquaponics students the ways to use fish waste to grow plants.  

The setup for aquaponics is a little different, plants grow in gravel beds connected to a water source that comes from pools full of tilapia. As the gravel beds fill and drain, the nutrients are brought to the roots of the plants.  

They use hundreds of tilapia fish to water the plants. Cardinal says, “One input of the fish food is actually growing two products. So we’re growing both the fish, the filets of the fish and then the waste is being reused to grow plants.”  

The major nutrient the plants need is Nitrogen, and they get that from the fish waste. Non-traditional but efficient ways to grow food and adjust to the advancing industry. 

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