Equal in significance to the production of power by OTEC, mariculture would be one of the key export industries of the Aquarian marine colony and also one of its most sophisticated. Relying on a broad spectrum of techniques, most Aquarian mariculture would be a direct companion to OTEC, exploiting its nutrient-rich discharge water as the basis of a Polyspecies Mariculture system that needs little or no input of feedstocks while producing a large diversity of food products. Algaeculture would be the foundation of this system, generating by itself both a bulk food product and a feedstock for various industrial uses in addition to being the basic feedstock for the rest of the mariculture system.
The original Aquarius colony design concept called for the creation of a vast breakwater structure producing what would have essentially been a vast calm water bay with the colony habitat at its center. Though intended primarily for the purpose of enabling the construction of the colony using simple static float structures, it also would have created a vast space for mariculture which Marshal Savage envisioned would be used predominately for algaeculture. With its incremental PSP float based development paradigm, TMP2’s marine colony concept does not call for or need a breakwater structure for its construction and, being built over a protracted period and changing in location over time, would not be able to deploy such large structures for mariculture purposes until it has achieved its final location on the Equator. And in its early stages the Aquarius Seed would have no OTEC systems and so would have to initiate mariculture activity with more conventional and much smaller scale techniques. Considering this, it is likely that the Seed settlement would implement mariculture using modular structures in the form of modular pens and runs. These would be located in radiating or branching structures at the periphery of the colony or on completely separate structures –perhaps being used as a floating array by themselves. These would be easy to reconfigure as the settlement –or its mariculture activities- expand. Similarly, algaeculture based on modular panel-shaped tube arrays mounted above-water like solar panels or indoor culturing tanks relying on heliostat arrays –both of which are off-the-shelf options today.
As the colony approaches an intermediate scale mariculture systems may need to be more integrated into the primary structure of the colony in order to accommodate its incremental relocation and progressively rougher sea conditions. This would be accommodated by the creation of integral lagoons dedicated to mariculture applications, their ‘ridge’ surface zones employed for algaeculture and other farming activities and their interior space providing space for food storage and processing facilities. Such lagoons may become a key feature of the architecture of the developing colony, being used also for recreational facilities and shipping, their size varying and evolving according to the significance of these activities to colony. Many variations in lagoon design would be possible and it’s likely that those used for mariculture may have a more ‘industrial’ aspect compared to those used for recreation owing to the need for more subdivision to accommodate biome and thermal isolation in a polyspecies mariculture system.
The full scale Equatorial colony would, because of its location and implementation of OTEC, be able to deploy mariculture systems on the largest scales. Here we may see the mariculture lagoons become the single largest area or most numerous structures of the colony and at this scale open pool algeaculture may supersede the use of enclosed culture arrays –with the exception of algeaculture employed for the purpose of hydrogen production which requires a more controlled atmosphere environment. The same general area of structure as Marshal Savage originally imagined is likely but using a conjoined structure formed of radiating petal-shaped lagoons. Separate structures, loosely reminiscent of the modular mariculture enclosures of the early Seed stages but vastly larger in scale, are also possible here, being composed of small sized ‘mountain’ forms hosting an OTEC and processing facilities and with a single large circular or ovoid mariculture bay which is kept aligned for optimal solar insolation. Hosting small somewhat independent communities –though still dependent upon the resources and transportation facilities of the main colony– these would be akin to farming homesteads.
Farming on Aquarius would be dominated by containerized hydroponics in greenhouse or ‘vertical’ farming systems and cold-bed agriculture, the latter exploiting OTEC cold water for the cultivation of temperate plants –fruit trees in particular— in the otherwise overheated tropical climate of the Equator. It would also be complimented by largely ornamental gardening intended to both create a naturalistic habitat and to moderate the climate of the colony. Virtually the entire colony would be a garden landscape in some form and gardening may be equal to tinkering as the most popular pastimes for colony residents. Mariculture and OTEC would be the foundations of this agriculture by producing fertilizer, fresh water, and even growing medium. Animal farming beyond mariculture would be rare on Aquarius owing to the complication of limited space. Most efforts for meat production would be focused on tissue culture technology, which will be discussed later in the article on Food Fabbing. But it’s possible that chicken farming may be suited to the space limits of the more mature colony.
As with initial mariculture, agriculture on the Seed colony would be dominated by container gardening techniques, typically located in the community central garden and on rooftops as well as with indoor systems using artificial or heliostat lighting. Companion greenhouse systems may also be deployed on the top surfaces of some mariculture enclosures, though initial ones are unlikely to offer space for this. In this stage there would definitely be competition on the settlement for space between gardening, solar power, and algeaculure and some peripheral platforms structures may be deployed exclusively for farming applications.
Intermediate scale settlements would likely rely more extensively on robotic and ‘vertical’ farming technology, again to deal with limited space and this competition for space from solar power systems. Just as with peripheral mariculture enclosures, peripheral farming platforms would not be as practical in this stage of development owing to rougher sea conditions and the relatively high cost of PSPs –which demands they have multiple uses to be cost-effective. Just as enclosed ‘lagoon’ structures would be employed in the body of the settlement structure to support mariculture, ‘valleys’ would be formed by very similar structural forms to create large flat spaces for farming and recreational parkland.
The combination of vertical farming and valley structures will probably demand less functional area than mariculture and so in the full scale colony these valleys are less likely to be as numerous as the mariculture lagoons. In fact, the surrounding ridge structures of lagoons may be sufficient for most agriculture needs with the full-scale Equatorial colony.
All forms of farming on Aquarius will tend to lean in favor of high technology in anticipation of their use off the Earth. Many techniques developed on Aquarius will directly translate to use in space, adapted for the microgravity environment and high degrees of automation. Thus Aquarius will serve as a direct precursor to space farming.
- Life In Aquarius
- Seed Settlement Design Concepts
- Aquarian Intermediate Stages
- Aquarian Transportation
- Aquarius Supporting Technologies