Desert Farming – High Int.

The idea of growing food in a desert region would make most people laugh but this is quickly becoming a reality.  Experimental food growing technologies have enabled researchers to pull off what was once considered impossible.  There are currently two farms in desert regions of the world where quality vegetables are being grown cheaply and easily.

Sundrop Farms, based in the hot dry desert region of South Australia, uses experimental greenhouses to grow tomatoes, peppers, and cucumbers.  The biggest challenge of growing food in a desert, obviously, is the lack of available water.  The researchers at Sundrop Farms have gotten around this problem by harnessing the sun to desalinate sea water.  It can also be used to control the temperature of the greenhouses.

Without depending on limited resources such as land, fresh water, and fuel, Sundrop Farms has used technology to make farming a more sustainable practice.  Needless to say, this may help greatly in stretching the world’s food supplies.  Another benefit of this kind of farming is that it can be done anywhere, thus reducing the costs of transporting food to distant locations.  Yet another benefit of this kind of system is that it reduces the need for pesticides, which many consider to be unhealthy for consumers who eat the food.  So far, Sundrop Farms has produced tonnes of vegetables and food producers and companies are keenly interested in the new technology.

Another experimental desert farm is the Sahara Forest Project, which began in Qatar in December 2012.  Greenhouses in the region are cooled by saltwater.  Solar power and other technologies are used together to help make vegetation grow in the desert environment. As deserts have expanded over recent years around the world due to global warming, this project could be an important part of reclaiming land once used for agriculture and believed to be lost forever.

The results from the Qatar project were better than expected and in June of 2014, Jordan agreed to host another one.  This will be much bigger than the Qatar project and the project members will have even more opportunities to test their experiments on a much larger scale.  It is not totally clear yet that desert farming represents the future of farming but these projects have shown some preliminary success in the field.