|The Hairy Perfection of Los Tres Amigos, MR|
According to a recent edition of Science Insider:
A project to “green” desert areas with a mix of technologies—producing food, biofuel, clean water, energy, and salt—reached a milestone last week. A pilot plant in Qatar, built by the Sahara Forest Project (SFP) and supported by Qatari fertilizer companies Yara International and Qafco, produced 75 kilograms of vegetables per square meter in three crops annually, comparable to commercial farms in Europe, while consuming only sunlight and seawater.
In SFP’s greenhouse, fans blow hot desert air through a honeycombed curtain with salt water trickling down it to produce cool, moist conditions suitable for growing veg- etables. Some of that moisture is recaptured by condensation to provide fresh water to irrigate the plants. Similar evaporative cooling is used to grow more crops outside, such as barley and arugula, and an onsite concentrated solar power plant provides electricity for the whole facility.
That a greenhouse with just 600 square meters of growing area produced such good yields suggests that a commercial plant could do even better, says SFP chief Joakim Hauge. SFP is now engaged in studies aimed at building a 20-hectare test facility near Aqaba in Jordan.
Of course, tackling global climate change and population pressures would render such radical farming methods unnecessary, but coping with environmenal change, and growing adequate food is imperative here and now. Seawater farming makes sense, and I hope the test facility expansion in Jordan succeeds.