Journal of NACAA

Knowledge Levels and Training Needs of Aquaponic Stakeholders

ISSN 2158-9429

Volume 14, Issue 2 - December 2021

Editor: Executive Director

Abstract

Aquaponics has gained considerable attention in the past several years, attracting many new hobbyists, producers, and educators. Past failures of commercial farms call into question aquaponics as a viable agriculture business. This study assesses the importance (I) that growers place on nine core aquaponic competencies, as well as their knowledge (K) and access to quality information (A) on those topics. Core competencies included system design (SD), system construction (SC), system maintenance (SM), water chemistry (WC), fish health and disease (FHD), plant pest, disease, and nutrient deficiencies (PPD), financial record keeping (FRK), marketing food products (MFP), and food safety (FS). Median respondent importance ratings were high across groups, except for FRK and MFP, which hobbyists rated lowest. Similarly, knowledge of FRK and MFP were rated lower by hobbyists and educators. Quality information was generally rated as ‘moderately accessible’. Composite importance scores were lowest for hobbyists and highest for producers, indicating that producers took all topics more seriously. Likewise, composite knowledge scores were lower for hobbyists than producers and educators, indicating hobbyists had lower overall knowledge levels. Composite accessibility scores were similar among groups. The top needs for knowledge and information access based on the mean weighted discrepancy score (MWDS) for all groups were in the areas of FHD and PPD, whereas FS, WC, SM, and SD needs varied by group. Educational content in these areas would be beneficial to new and veteran stakeholders.

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