Temperature dynamics within a low-cost aquaponic system and the possibe effects of climate change.
Mkhize, Minenhle Godslove.
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The agricultural sector is facing impeding challenges due to climate change. There is enough evidence showing that climate change has a significant impact on agricultural production. Marginalized communities that lack financial resources and depend on agricultural crop production, are the most vulnerable to climate change effects, which further exacerbates 5 their food insecurity. Existing literature hypothesizes that aquaponics, using Tilapia, has potential in addressing climate change effects in agriculture. However, the low average winter temperature hinders successful adoption of low-cost aquaponic systems using Tilapia fish. The implication of cool conditions (South African temperatures) are more extreme for a low-cost, poorly resourced aquaponic users because they lack temperature regulation 10 systems to maintain optimal temperatures and are simply subject to the surrounding environmental conditions. Therefore, the purpose of this study was to understand the temperature dynamics of a low-cost aquaponic system and the possible effects of future climate change. A study was conducted at KwaDeda, a poor rural community in the Ndwedwe area of 15 KwaZulu-Natal. The two objectives were to (1) understand how the surrounding environmental air temperature affects the water temperature of a low-cost aquaponic system and, to (2) assess the implications of future climate change on a low-cost aquaponic system. Two weather stations (22 km apart) were installed, one to measure hourly environmental air temperature conditions and the other to measure the conditions within the plastic tunnel of 20 a low cost aquaponic system (from June – November 2019). The environmental air temperature had no immediate relationship with water temperature. However, there was an observed lag of 4 hours from the environmental air temperature peak to water temperature peak, which varied slightly with seasonality. The conditions within the tunnel were generally hotter than the outside environmental conditions during the day, 25 however, at night, the tunnel air temperature dropped to be the same and sometimes even lower the outside environmental temperature. The air temperatures in winter and resulting water temperatures of the low-cost aquaponic system was well below the optimum range for Tilapia (22-32 °C). Low-cost systems provide limited means to control water temperature. Therefore, further investigation into low-cost methods to reduce the cooling of the tunnels 30 at night, which later results in cooling of the water, is required. The projected future climate was shown to be both advantageous and disadvantageous for the low-cost aquaponic system. The projected increase in average air temperature due to climate change will be positive for South African conditions, which are generally quite cool for Tilapia. However, extreme weather conditions such as intense storms, high wind speed and hail, that are predicted with climate change, may be a threat to low-cost aquaponic infrastructure. Research into improving the design of low-cost tunnels that can withstand adverse weather conditions is recommended.