In the South Australian desert, an innovative farming method has been introduced to help bridge the gap in the vegetable supply chain.
Sundrop Farms has established a commercial tomato farm that’s 20ha in size in an area where there is little fresh water sources and a lack of arable land and grid energy. They pump 2.8 million litres of seawater from Spencer Gulf a day into a solar-power boiler, which is powered by 23,000 mirrors that reflect the sun’s energy.
The water is boiled to make steam which powers the greenhouses. Once the steam is cooled, it’s used for irrigation water for the crops. The farm also uses a ventilation system which uses the seawater to sterilise and clean the air, so they don’t need chemicals to control pests on the crops.
Their mission is to produce food using limited resources, so that it can be grown anywhere.
Sundrop Farms has tested this technology over a five-year trial period in Port Augusta and will begin planting, mostly tomatoes, soon.
The company will utilise their greenhouses to grow 15,000 tonnes of sustainably grown tomatoes a year for Coles under a 10-year supply contract.
The groundbreaking technology has received a lot of international interest and was backed with $100 million by U.S. private equity firm Kravis Roberts.
This cutting-edge technology could bring big changes to rural areas with limited fresh water sources and arable land.
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