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In 2019, the Center built an innovative pilot aquaponics system. Fish farming is coupled with the cultivation of vegetables and the aim of this pilot plant is to provide data for modelling and design of commercial production plants.

This technology represents a reference model for the innovation of aquaculture processes by fully embracing the principles of the circular economy and sustainability aiming to the optimization of the use of resources.

The pilot plant consists of four large tanks for a total volume of 11,000 L dedicated to the breeding and growing of freshwater fish and a nursury of 10 tanks of 200 L. Two modules of 600 L each one for plant cultivation in DWC system.

The greenhouse of 90 square meter is fully conditioned and the plant is equipped with cutting-edge technologies for the filtration and sterilization of water. The greenhouse of 140 square meter, together with the algal cultivations, also houses a DWC aquaponics system equipped with a futuristic high-power lighting system. To date, protocols have been developed for the cultivation of leafy plant species (lettuce, escarole, basil and strawberry) coupled with the breeding of the Nile Tilapia (Oreochromis niloticus) and the golden crucian carp (Carassius auratus). A PRIN project has been underway since 2022 on the plant regarding the cultivation of Cannabis with a high CBD content coupled with the breeding of Sturgeon (Acipenser ruthenus).

In February 2024 an innovative tower system has been installed to perform comparative analysis in this particular vertical farming system of growing performances using water from aquaponics system respect to the common hydroponic solutions.