The world’s first farm to use seawater and sunlight to grow food in the middle of a desert just opened.
Using coconut husks, 23,000 mirrors to reflect solar power, and desalinated water, Sundrop Farms situated in Port Augusta – a desert area in Australian – works agricultural voodoo. Without resorting to pesticides, needing to rely on rainfall, or turning to fossil fuels to power their 20-hectare farm, their system is proving to be a sustainable show-boat for growing food in new ways.
As populations rise, the global demand for food will rise also. Although food waste needs to be curbed, since roughly one-third of all food produce globally every year is thrown out, costing roughly $680 billion dollars to industrialized nations, and $315 billion to emerging nations, there are ways we can create more food sustainably without taxing the world’s resources.
The three biggest hurdles to growing pesticide-free food for most farmers are water, land, and energy. By breaking our dependence on these finite resources, along with respecting them along with traditional farming practices, more food can be grown for more people.
Climate change, biotech company land grabs, drought, floods, and pestilence are no longer a concern for innovative farmers, though. Sundrop’s ability to carry on despite extreme weather was already demonstrated just weeks ago a once-in-50-year storm wreaked havoc in South Australia. Sundrop Farms was able to take the brunt of high winds and continue operations despite a massive blackout that crippled much of the area.
By treating brackish water from Spencer Gulf and reusing it in a massive greenhouse lined with cardboard, Sundrop avoids having to rely on groundwater. Drought-devastated California farmers recently used 15 gallons of water to grow a tiny handful of almonds, and water-use like this is not uncommon in traditional farming.
Sundrop also grows hydroponically which reduces the overall need for water while making the need for soil a moot point. Utilizing a bevy of mirrors to redirect the desert sun, all the farm needs is sunlight and some seawater to grow 17,000 metric tons of food every year.
The company also uses no chemical fertilizers, and no pesticides, as it employs beneficial bugs to destroy the pests which could harm the crops. They grow only non-GMO produce, and supply grocery stores in Australia. About 13 percent of Australia’s market share, and will be sold at a fixed price for 10 years exclusively at Coles Supermarkets.
“Because we do everything in a controlled environment, we know what our input costs are, and we’re doing everything on a renewable basis, we can provide real consistency of supply and a higher quality product at a better price year ’round,” Philipp Saumweber, chairman and CEO of Sundrop Farms, said.
As if this weren’t jaw-dropping enough, the farm has a year-round growing season by heating the greenhouse in winter with 39 megawatts of clean energy gained from solar power.
Though the farm cost $200 million to build, the entrepreneurs who started it think it was worth the long-term investment, since they’ll never have to deal with fossil fuels. Sundrop says that “they are breaking farming’s dependence on finite resources.”
In addition to the Australian Farm, a Tennessee farm is in the works in the US, and they just completed building their first European farm in Portugal.
This farm proves, once again, that the biotech-promoted myth of needing genetically modified food and millions of pounds of carcinogenic pesticide to grow them to feed the population, is indeed a fabrication. From smaller, organic farms practicing age-old techniques to increase yield, to this farm using the latest and greatest technology, we truly don’t need anything more than some elbow grease and imagination to feed everyone healthy, sustainable food.
Image credit: www.ruralcoproperty.com.au
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