Aquaponics is a type of agriculture that combines the principles of hydroponic crop production with those of fish farming. The result is a system that benefits both plants and fish as nutrients are naturally added to the water by the fish to benefit the plants while the plants remove excess nitrates that could harm the fish. Also, fewer chemicals are required to maintain proper balance of the water, since the plants and fish work together as they would in a natural stream or pond.
The National Institute of Food and Agricultur (NIFA), which is under the supervision of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), provides grants to programs that work to research the development of aquaponics and move the technology out of the research phase and into large-scale operations. The grants provided by the NIFA and the USDA are category-specific; applications must be submitted to the correct category for consideration. In 2010 the NIFA funded seven grant programs with a total of £148 million available.
T-STAR grants are specialised for aquaponics research funding of programs operating in tropical and subtropical climates. This limits the number of applications received, because organisations not operating in a tropical climate will not be considered for grant money. To be considered for grant money, T-STAR applications must fit into one of five categories that are subject to change at the beginning of each award year. The total amount of money given out by T-STAR in the 2009 grant award year was £1.9 million.
International networks such as AquaponicsUK have information about groups that will provide private funding to new projects. The goal of these groups is to develop the practice of aquaponics into a mainstream method of producing food. To secure funding from private organisations such as those listed with AquaponicsUK it is important to supply all elements required by the applications. Requirements differ according to organisation, so reviewing the application and making note of required details are vital to successfully securing grant money.