Video

NutraPonics wants to build aquaponics test facility in Yukon

An Alberta entrepreneur was in Whitehorse this week pitching an idea for Arctic food supply. Tanner Stewart's company, NutraPonics, designs self-contained aquaponic units that raise fish and vegetables using the same water.

Project could by stymied by high cost of energy needed to maintain water temperature

Diagram of what a concept facility in the North might look like. (NutraPonics)

An Alberta entrepreneur was in Whitehorse this week pitching an idea for Arctic food supply.

Tanner Stewart's company, NutraPonics, designs self-contained aquaponic units that raise fish and vegetables using the same water. Aquaponics is a system that combines aquaculture and hydroponics. 

"We've developed our own format of indoor vertical farming technology," Stewart enthuses. 

The system grows plants without soil and uses waste from the fish to grow plants. The plants, in turn, help to filter the water. 

Energy cost a challenge

Tanner Stewart is one of the minds behind NutraPonics. (Philippe Morin/CBC)

Stewart says, in theory, the self-contained units could be installed in remote Arctic communities, however the biggest challenge is the cost of energy.

One common fish used in farming is Tilapia, an African import which grows quickly but requires water temperatures of above 21 degrees Celcius; about as hot as an indoor swimming pool. 

"[Energy cost] is a special challenge here in the North which I'm learning," says Stewart. 

But he's optimistic. "We can fix those cost issues with energy. We've made tremendous strides in solar power and wind technology. There's geothermal up here, there is great hydro electricity."

Arctic Innovations conference

Stewart was a guest at the Arctic Innovations conference hosted at Yukon College this week. It sought to make connections between different fields of study given the cost of living in the North.

About 35 delegates attended from Norway, Finland, Sweden, Wales and from across Canada. 

Stewart says he's in talks with Yukon College and would like to build a test aquaponic facility in Yukon. 

The Whitehorse campus already has experimental installations including an agridome designed for growing vegetables.

Corrections

  • A previous version of this story used the term aquaculture instead of aquaponic.
    Nov 29, 2015 10:16 AM CT

Comments

To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.