Could underwater strawberries and deep-sea herbs provide a more sustainable alternative to land-based farming? Industrial agriculture is struggling to meet the needs of a rapidly growing population.
So, scientists and entrepreneurs are hoping underwater farming could address these issues by growing crops under the ocean, eliminating the need for pesticides, while also reducing water use and carbon emissions. Indeed, the UN estimates the world could easily be fed if we used just 2% of the oceans for sustainable farming.
Boosting sustainability with underwater crops
Aquaculture has long been used to grow and harvest foodstuffs such as seafood, but several companies are now looking at ways of farming traditional crops such as strawberries and herbs under the sea.
Nemo’s Garden is an underwater farming project consisting of six air-filled plastic pods, or biospheres, anchored at the bottom of the sea off the coast of Noli, Italy.
Each dome is equipped with seedbeds and a 10-meter spiral tube. Irrigation water and fertilizer are kept in a tank at the lowest part of the spiral and are delivered to the plants using a pump. All these functions can be controlled from an above-water control tower, which is also fitted with solar panels that control a fan in each biosphere to reduce humidity on the plants.
Growing crops underwater also benefits the environment by eliminating the need for pesticides as no pests can enter the pods unless they are introduced. In addition, the biospheres conserve water; seawater in the pods evaporates and then condenses back down to provide the plants with fresh water.
Read the complete article at www.weforum.org.