Agriculture is going through a rough time, and there’s not yet an end in sight. Many farmers will tell you about their struggles with arable land and water management.
Climate change-caused weather events have upset crops, soil and air pollution are negatively affecting the way plants grow, and freshwater use for growing crops is limited in many parts of the world where rainfall is insufficient or variable.
Desertification also poses a problem as large swathes of land lose their fertility every day, leading to growing fears of shortages even as the human population and corresponding mouths to feed increase.
But you know what they say: Necessity is the mother of invention – and man is at his most inventive when the stakes are high. Many innovations are springing up that are specifically targeted at addressing the growing concerns in the agricultural sector.
One of these innovations is the underwater greenhouse, and it could be the future of growing produce
What’s an Underwater Greenhouse?
As its name implies, an underwater greenhouse is a controlled environment that exists and grows plants underwater.
Right now there is only one in the world. It’s located one hundred and thirty feet offshore from the village of Noli in Italy’s Liguria region. It consists of six, air-filled clear domes that serve as biospheres.
These domes are home to over a hundred different growing plants including herbs, vegetables, and fruits. They look like large balloons and they float at different depths, between 15 and 36 feet below the water’s surface.
Aptly named Nemo’s Garden, this is the world’s first, and so far only, underwater greenhouse. The underlying idea inspiring the project is to utilize the ocean’s favorable growing and sustainability features like stable temperature, carbon dioxide density, and an absence of the pesky insects that keep farmers up at night and chemical companies in business.
All of these factors make the ocean a potentially amazing habitat for growing fresh produce.
Inside Nemo’s Garden
Nemo’s Garden is what you get when you combine deep-sea engineering with gardening, which is exactly what Sergio Gamberini, the brain behind the project set out to accomplish.
Today, the project is leading research efforts that are occupied with investigating the possibilities of growing terrestrial plants under the sea.
So far, more than a hundred different plants have been successfully planted in the garden, and these include medicinal and aromatic herbs, beans, strawberries, and salad greens.
Don’t think that these plants are as salty as the sea, though. Since they’re grown in fully-enclosed domes, they won’t taste salty when they’re ready to be cultivated. And, the fruits and veggies produced in this underwater atmosphere are richer in nutrient content than those grown by traditional methods.
Are Underwater Greenhouses the Future of Farming?
Given the problems facing the agricultural sector, it’s perfectly logical to wonder whether humans should look to the sea as a possible source of growing produce going forward. Could underwater greenhouses hold the key to curtailing agriculture woes?
The answer to that is an emphatic maybe.
Nemo’s Garden has already shown what can be done, so the team in charge is presently engaged in exporting the technology to other areas. In fact, underwater biospheres have already been built in the Florida Keys and Belgium, with more on the way.
Underwater gardens can substantially increase the amount of land that is considered arable. This could offset some of the shortages that farmers and the rest of us are currently experiencing due to adverse environmental factors.
Any progress toward global distribution would depend heavily on the team being able to lower the cost of production and consequently, the produce.
The price of sea strawberries might not be as cheap as those in the grocery store currently, but according to Gamberini, paying a little extra for the food we eat in exchange for a much smaller carbon footprint is reasonable.
What Do You Think of the Underwater Greenhouse?
What do you think of underwater greenhouses? Will they take off? Comment below and don’t forget to share this article with your friends.