Food’s Future of Sun and Sea

The picture shows an areal view of the greenhouse farm and its power source. The greenhouses are farthest from the camera, large, flat, white buildings. They form a sort of diamond shape on the ground, with the "bottom" point towards the camera, and the "top" farther back in the distance. In the foreground and to the right a couple rectangular holding ponds of some kind. Running up the other side of the diamond is the solar array. It's a field of mirrors, all computer-positioned to reflect sunlight onto a central tower, where a medium like molten salt is super-heated to generate power with conventional steam turbines.

The next few decades are going to see some significant changes in global agriculture. Not only will current breadbaskets get worse and worse for farming, but growing water shortages will force significant changes in how we irrigate, and what crops we can grow. Fortunately, I think that agricultural problems will be some of the easier ones to solve, and I’m expecting that we’re going to see a lot more food grown in places like the Sundrop Farm in Port Augusta, AU.

Two things we know won’t be going away as the heat rises are sunlight and sea water. This style of farm has an effectively limitless supply of power and water, and while the 15,000 tonnes of tomatoes produced by Sundrop is a tiny, tiny portion of the total global tomato supply, I think farms like this are going to become increasingly common.

I also think that the more agriculture is shifted to controlled environments like this, the more secure the crops will be against pests and fungus. In general, it makes sense to me to integrate the clean-room agriculture techniques being explored elsewhere in the world to eliminate the need for pesticides or fungicides. The work being done in this area provides a real hope for a stable global food supply despite an unstable climate.


  1. says

    It’s certainly a fascinating idea whose time has come. The only criticism of this place is that they contract their one line of perfectly formed produce to a major supermarket chain not known for its fresh food policies even if they advertise themselves as the “fresh food people”. Sometime in the future this technology will be used to promote a variety of really flavorful fruits and vegetables.

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