There are some radical changes going on in the farming industry all over the world. The push to go completely organic has never been stronger, which is healthy for plants, soil, and especially us as consumers. Even the entire Indian State of Goa is going completely organic, and they’ve recently created a plan that will actually pay for farmers to make the healthy switch. But for a desert farm in Australia, simply growing crops organically wasn’t enough.
Using coconut husks, 23,000 reflective solar powered mirrors, and desalinated water, Sundrop Farms in Port Augusta, Australia – a desert and mostly barren area – has worked some agricultural magic. Without using pesticides, needing to rely on rainfall, or having to use fossil fuels to power their 20-hectare farm, they’ve been able to grow food in an entirely new way. Their methods could revolutionize the agricultural industry as we know it.
As populations around the world rise, the demand for food will as well. This is a problem that we’ve been trying to solve and deal with for years, and it looks like we’re on the right path. Although waste needs to be reduced in order to have a truly positive impact on the future, there are ways we can create more food sustainably without overtaxing our precious resources.
The biggest issues farmers have with growing pesticide free, organic crops are water, land, and energy. Eliminating our dependence on these resources while using traditional farming practices will help us grow more food for more people.
Climate change, biotech company land grabs, floods, and droughts aren’t really concerns for innovative famers willing to adapt. Sundrop Farm’s ability to grow and cultivate crops during extreme weather patterns has already been demonstrated. Only a few short weeks ago, that area of Australia was caught in a once-in-50-year storm that posed a serious problem for the region. However, the farm was able to take the force of the wind, and continue operating despite a huge blackout as a result of the storm.
The farm treats brackish water from Spencer Gulf in order to avoid the need for groundwater for their crops. This is a technique that California famers need to adopt as they continue to suffer from the effects caused by drought. Water use in modern farming is excessive, and it takes California farmers 15 gallons in order to grow just a handful of almonds.
Sundrop also grows crops hydroponically, which reduces the need for water and eliminates the need for soil at all. Using mirrors in order to redirect the powerful sun, all they need is some light and seawater in order to make their operation a success. And by success, I mean 17,000 metric tons of food every year.
Not only do they take advantage of the resources they have, but they also don’t use chemical fertilizers, pesticides, and they use bugs to destroy the pests that normally harm crops. They also only grow non-GMO produce to supply grocery stores in Australia.
Although this is enough to get anyone excited, they also have a year-round growing season, which they create by heating the greenhouse in the winter through 39 megawatts of energy harnessed from solar power.
Admittedly, the farm was expensive to build, about 200 million dollars to be exact. But the entrepreneurs who started the operation believe the initial costs to be worth it, and they see it as a long-term investment since it’s completely sustainable.