For further context as to the significance of aquaponics systems, see ‘aquaponics: the context’.
The benefits of aquaponics are pretty intuitive – as a form of sustainable production, it holds immense potential (in my opinion, at least) to address a lot of the issues currently prevalent in the agricultural industry.
Many of the benefits of aquaponics, in terms of its capability to produce food, stems from its design. At it’s core, aquaponics is a natural system, which means that in theory, nature is ‘doing work’ for us. The backbone of the system, nutrient recycling, not only utilizes resources more efficiently, but actively reduces waste from both individual systems. In addition, it eliminates many of the external costs, such as the application of fertilizer or need for irrigation. When this efficiency is concentrated into a single system with two streams of production (and therefore income), it becomes a very powerful tool. When considering aquaponics versus industrial agriculture, the ‘side benefits’ also become significant; inherent with simply being a more efficient form of production, aquaponics is both more sustainable and more conserving of limiting resources such as water and land.
The system also has close to endless potential in terms of physical design – instead of pesticides, we can incorporate natural predators of insects, vermiculture can replace artificial supplements for mineral nutrients, and many of the byproducts of the system can be recycled as biofuel or feed. Technological development is the current limiting factor of aquaponics systems, and with increased awareness of both the system and the issues it can potentially address, that roof is rapidly rising.
I refer you all to the following essay by Dickson Deposmier which highlights the shifting paradigm of food production, which aquaponics falls neatly within.