A new agricultural technique may have just solved the problem of growing food in some of the world’s most inhospitable places – locations that don’t currently support traditional agriculture.
In addition, the technique can save what are clearly finite resources from extinction, something all of us should clearly favor.
As the world’s population grows, so too does its demand for food. Right now, activist organizations are battling the spread of the genetically modified organisms (GMOs) which have become prevalent in modern agriculture, despite the dangers they pose to our health.
The primary argument for GMO makers like Monsanto and backers in industry and government is that they are necessary because the world is running out of resources, and GMO crops are a better way to boost yields (which is not true, actually).
On first hearing it, this argument might sound cogent and believable, but further examination reveals it is not so.
Digging deeper into the impact of GMO crops and the herbicides used to make them most effective demonstrates well that chemical farming is what’s doing real harm to finite land and soil resources.
So GMOs aren’t a viable, long-term option. Thankfully, however, a new innovation that is efficient and environmentally friendly – as well as productive – has been developed.
A new start-up called Sundrop Farms has developed what can only be called high-tech greenhouses that employ several solutions to grow crops with far less reliance on finite natural resources, even more than conventional greenhouse production.
With offices in the UK, Australia and the US, the company is working to educate, enlighten and, most of all, expand.
In order to grow crops, you need land, water and energy – all finite resources. But Sundrop Farms’ technology sort of reinvents the resources.
In 2010, when the company launched its first pilot farm in Port Augusta, South Australia, it was located in the middle of a desert, where it would have been impossible to grow food using traditional agricultural methods.
However, by combining seawater and sunlight, Sundrop Farms has managed to change the agricultural dynamic.
It is a technology that negates any effects of climate change (real or imagined), land grabs by biotech companies who only want to spread GMOs, droughts, floods and other natural and man-made occurrences.
Using coconut husks, 23,000 mirrors to reflect solar power, and desalinated water on 20-hectares (roughly 49,400 acres), the developers have grown tons of fresh, wholesome, organic food.
The facility in South Australia uses seawater from the Spencer Gulf, desalinating it and then using it in a massive greenhouse lined with cardboard, thereby eliminating the need to rely on groundwater or rain for growing produce.
In addition, the facility also grows food hydroponically – which you can also do at home – thereby further reducing the overall need for water and eliminating the need for soil.
Utilizing the mirrors for power to redirect the desert sun, all that is required is sunlight and seawater to grow as much as 17,000 metric tons of food a year.
What’s more, this kind of agricultural operation can produce year-round. During winter months, the greenhouse is fed with 39 megawatts of clean energy that comes directly from the sun.
While the $200 million price tag may seem excessive, consider that with the renewable technologies and year-round growing seasons, such operations can quickly pay for themselves.
But the bigger issue is that Sundrop Farms is redefining the way food can be – and should be – grown in a world where the population is only expanding, along with competition for resources.