It is a well-known fact to everyone that most of our planet Earth is covered by ocean water. However, it is rendered to be not useful as that of fresh water. The recent discovery made by the Sundrop Farms reveal that seawater can be used for agricultural purposes.
Sundrop Farms marked the launch of what it referred to as the “first commercial-scale facility of this calibre in the world.” It uses solar power to de-salinate seawater and operate greenhouses in order to grow more than 15,000 tonnes of the red fruit each year.
The farm is located in the desert region of southern Australia. It grows and supplies 15 percent of the entire country’s tomatoes without using soil, fresh water or fossil fuels.
The company has recently released a statement in which it stated the unique feature adopted by Sundrop Farms that is different from that of conventional greenhouse farms. It stated that Sundrop Farms is using “cutting-edge, sustainable technology”. Such a feature is believed to save massive amounts of natural resources and also avoid a substantial level of pollution.
The further stated, “Approximately 26,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide per year” would be avoided, which is “equivalent to removing 500 cars from our roads.”
The company has revealed that by deploying sea water, fresh water equivalent of 180 Olympic size swimming pools can be saved. Also, more than two million litres of diesel a year be saved.
Sundrop Farms explained its sustainable growing methods. “Tomatoes are grown hydroponically in coconut coir, eliminating the need for soil.”
“Our concentrated solar tower produces both heat and electricity to maintain the perfect conditions inside the greenhouses to help the plants grow. This heat is also used to de-salinate one million litres of seawater a day; the fresh water produced is used to water the plants and cool the greenhouses.”
The project is cost effective as the operating costs come down and the firm believes that such a way of practice will be a role model especially to those countries that face a shortage of fresh water and energy supplies.
Mike Dixon, director of the Controlled Environment Systems Research Facility, exclaimed that although Sundrop Farm’s system may work well in desert regions in the Middle East, it would not be economically practical in places with an abundance of fresh water.
Dixon concerning the functionality of conventional farming and the new technique of farming stated, “You cannot compete with conventional farming … it [greenhouse production] will never achieve the same on those staple products. You need hundreds of thousands of acres for staples like rice to produce it in a highly competitive way.”