Australian Farm Grows 17,000 Tonnes of Vegetables Using Only Sun and Seawater


Imagine being able to run a farm on just sun and seawater. Incredibly, a farm in Australia has managed to do just that, building a greenhouse that grew 17,000 tonnes of tomatoes this year.

The farm, which uses no soil, pesticides, fossil fuels, or groundwater, is the first of its kind. Sundrop Farms is located in the South Australian desert. Crops are grown in a hydroponic greenhouse lined with seawater-drenched cardboard. 

Sundrop Farms obtains its water from the Spencer Gulf and desalinizes it using 23,000 mirrors to reflect light to a receiver tower to generate solar power. The system is capable of providing 39 megawatts of renewable energy, which is more than enough to keep the entire farm running, even when heated during the winter. The greenhouse contains 180,000 tomato plants, which are grown in coconut husks instead of soil.

During the summer, the seawater-drenched cardboard keeps the plants cool. During the winter, the greenhouse is heated with solar power.

An international team of scientists have spent the last six years designing the farm. They initially launched a pilot greenhouse in 2010. After modifications were made, construction on a commercial-scale facility began in 2014 and was officially launched earlier this month.

Could this be the future of farming? Right now, the team is working on improvements to the design to solve problems caused by solar energy shortages in winter. They are working on getting the design to a place where it will never have to have any reliance on fossil fuels.

The start up costs for building the seawater greenhouse are more than traditional greenhouses, but according to Sundrop Farms CEO Philipp Saumweber, the costs will pay off in the long term due to conventional greenhouses costing more annually because of the cost of running on fossil fuels.

Sundrop is planning to launch similar greenhouses in Portugal and the United States, as well as a second one in Australia.

Tomatoes grown by the farm have already begun to be sold in Australian supermarkets.

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Alexandra Jacobo is a dedicated progressive writer, activist, and mother with a deep-rooted passion for social justice and political engagement. Her journey into political activism began in 2011 at Zuccotti Park, where she supported the Occupy movement by distributing blankets to occupiers, marking the start of her earnest commitment to progressive causes. Driven by a desire to educate and inspire, Alexandra focuses her writing on a range of progressive issues, aiming to foster positive change both domestically and internationally. Her work is characterized by a strong commitment to community empowerment and a belief in the power of informed public action. As a mother, Alexandra brings a unique and personal perspective to her activism, understanding the importance of shaping a better world for future generations. Her writing not only highlights the challenges we face but also champions the potential for collective action to create a more equitable and sustainable world.