Hungarian minority launches aquaponics greenhouse in Lendava

Lendava, 14 November - An aquaponics greenhouse that will produce 9,000 heads of lettuce per month and raise five to six tonnes of fish annually has been launched by the Hungarian minority in Slovenia near Lendava in the far northeast of the country.

Banuta
Europe's first aquaponics greenhouse opens at a model farm near Lendava.
Photo: STA

Banuta
Europe's first aquaponics greenhouse opens at a model farm near Lendava.
Photo: STA

"This is one of the first examples in Slovenia, but also in Europe," said Jože Meh, who initiated the project. The greenhouse is a part of a model farm in the village of Banuta, operated by the Pomurje Hungarian Self-Governing Community.

The facility does not yet operate in full, as the team is waiting for state-of-the-art vertical plant cultivation equipment from Malaysia, which is to arrive soon, said Meh.

Given the climate conditions, excessive use of pesticides and imports from other countries, Meh believes that aquaponics is one of the solutions to improve self-sufficiency and diet by adding more fish and vegetables. No pesticides, artificial fertilisers or chemicals will be used in the new greenhouse, he said.

Aquaponics is a sustainable way of food production, combining fish farming and vegetable growing by converting ammonia from fish into nitrates for plant fertilisation via an organic filter.

Plants use up the nitrates and filter the water which returns to the fish tank through a circulatory system. Water circulates constantly throughout the entire process. This means the greenhouse uses up to 95% less water than other systems, Meh said.

While quite widespread in America and Australia, aquaponics is in its early stages in Europe. This project and other similar ones will pave for a wider use of such systems, Meh believes.

The new agricultural method has already been presented to students from local high schools as part of their curriculum.

The 29-hectare model farm in Banuta also features asparagus and berries plantations, and breeds donkeys, horses, Krškopolje pigs, which is an autochthonous Slovenian breed, Mangalica pigs, and Hungarian grey cattle.

The farm's former stable is currently being reconstructed and will be converted into a horse stable. They are planning to add accommodation facilities. The farm will also have a storage, a cold store, a produce sorting and packing room, a herb garden and an outdoor classroom, Elizabeta Bojnec, the farm's head, has said.

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