A desert farm located in Australia utilizes hydroponic methods and clean energy to grow 18,000 tomato plants.
Though there is presently enough food on the planet to feed 10 billion people, 795 million people still go to bed hungry every night. It’s for this reason that a number of innovative citizens have dedicated their talents to developing effective ways one might grow food in both urban and harsh environments. Philipp Saumweber, CEO of Sundrop Farms, is but one individual who has discovered how to do just that.
The Sundrop Farm presently cultivates 18,000 tomato plants in an Australian desert using nothing more than sunlight and seawater. Crops are grown in a hydroponic greenhouse lined with water-drenched cardboard, which means there is no need for soil, fossil fuels, groundwater, or pesticides.
Located near Port Augusta in Australia, the 20-hectare farm opened its doors in October of 2016. Though it cost $200 million to build, Saumweber is confident the facility will pay itself off in the future. After all, there will be no need to purchase fossil fuels, though hooking up to ‘the grid’ during winter might be necessary at times.
The desert farm is being hailed as an ‘ingenious’ venture as traditional farms wouldn’t be able to grow crops in such an extreme environment. So far, the farm is able to grow 17,000 metric tons of produce each year. Already, there is already an abundant stock of tomatoes being sold in grocery stores around the country. In the future, Sundrop Farms intends to grow other crops, such as fruit and peppers.
New Scientist reports a sunny day allows the facility to generate 39 megawatts of clean energy; that’s enough to power the desalination plant and greenhouse (which needs to be heated in the winter) year-round.
Water obtained from the Spencer Gulf is desalinized using renewable energy. 23,000 mirrors reflect the sun’s light to a receiver tower which generates solar power. To ensure the process is as eco-friendly as possible, plants are grown in coconut husks and “predatory insects” are used to control pests that might attack the tomato plants.
Sundrop farm is changing the farming world. Expect to see similar establishments in both Tennessee, USA, and in Portugal.
Attribution to the author: Amanda Froelich and trueactivist.com