First Commercial Farm Without Soil Or Fresh Water

It's Monday - let's get geeky on indoor farming!

Sundrop Farms in the South Australian desert has become the first farm to produce crops without fresh water, soil, or unnecessary energy from the grid.

That's right - it's a farm - in the desert - that doesn't use any soil - or fresh water.

The farm opened it's 20-hectare commercial site in Port Augusta in 2014 trying to tackle the general challenge of reducing the amount of energy and fresh water needed to make profitable produce.

The plant draws seawater from the Spencer Gulf - just a bit more than a mile away from the farm.

The seawater is then desalinated on site using 23,000 mirrors that make up a concentrated solar farm - which powers a desalination unit that "scrubs" the salt out of the water - leaving fresh water that can be used by the plants.

To replace soil - the roots of the vegetables are grown in coconut husks - and seawater soaked pieces of cardboard are used at the base of the plants to cool them off - since the desert heat can get up to 115 degrees Fahrenheit!

Right now the farm is still connected to the grid as a safety net - but the closed production system is growing 180,000 tomato plants at a more predictable cost than traditional farming - and it can put out nearly 19,000 tons of tomatoes every year - year around.

As climate change starts creating real resource pressures like water shortages, drought, and famine - humans need to get much better at farming sustainably without needlessly using fresh water - fertilizers, and pesticides.

This isn't just a great development that will help us approach food security for the millions of hungry people in the world - this is a necessary development as the Earth's climate changes and conventional agriculture struggles.

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