THE FARMS OF THE FUTURE…Sustainable farming could be the key to dealing with food shortages. First-Of-Its-Kind Farm Uses Seawater and Solar Power to Grow Crops. World’s first mass-scale facility that grows tomatoes without soil, fresh water, or fossil fuels launches in Australia. Sundrop Farms’ system creates 39 megawatts of energy per day, enough to maintain 18,000 tomato plants inside a greenhouse. It is in the middle of a desert and completely independent of non-renewable resources.

Instead of soil, pesticides, fossil fuels and groundwater, Sundrop Farms uses only solar power and desalinated seawater to grow tomatoes across 49 acres. The water is pumped into the facility from the Spencer Gulf about 1.2 miles away where it is desalinated to water the farm’s 180,000 tomato plants.

“The farm’s solar power is generated by 23,000 mirrors that reflect sunlight towards a 115-meter (377-foot) high receiver tower. On a sunny day, up to 39 megawatts of energy can be producedโ€”enough to power the desalination plant and supply the greenhouse’s electricity needs,” NewsScientist explained.

But while itโ€™s certainly an impressive feat, there is an argument that says thereโ€™s simply not much point using solar energy production facilities like this to grow fruit and vegetables. Talking to New Scientist, Paul Kristiansen from the University of New England in Australia said that it was โ€œa bit like crushing a garlic clove with a sledgehammer.โ€ He added, โ€œWe donโ€™t have problems growing tomatoes in Australia.โ€

He has a point. Desalination is on the rise in many areas of the world, but it is mostly done through reverse osmosis, an expensive and energy-intensive process. As a result, desalination plants really only make sense in places that are water-stressed and have the resources necessary to build, run, and maintain them.

READ ALSO:   Some of the general soil management practices that help to improve fertility for high crop yield.

That may change as cheaper techniques become more robust and fresh water supplies dwindle in some places as a result of climate change. Even then, though, this isnโ€™t a technology thatโ€™s likely to catch on in poorer regionsโ€”which, unfortunately, are also the most likely to have a hard time adapting to shifting climate patterns. Solving that problem is likely to be a matter not of sheltering plants in greenhouses, but of designing crops that really can survive in a desert.

Read more: Farmers Weekly, New Scientist, โ€œTo Make Fresh Water without Warming the Planet, Countries Eye Solar Power,โ€

How useful was this post?

Click on a star to rate it!

Average rating / 5. Vote count:

No votes so far! Be the first to rate this post.

As you found this post useful...

Follow us on social media!