Yup, this company can grow tomatoes in a greenhouse without freshwater.
Freshwater is always needed when growing food to cultivate crops, fruits, and vegetables. But not in this greenhouse located 300 kilometres north of Adelaide in Australia.
Using only sunlight and seawater, this groundbreaking greenhouse was able to grow tomatoes. It is powered by solar energy using 23,000 mirrors capturing sunlight, and directing it to a 127-meter tower receiver at the center of the 20-hectare facility. The plant generates 39 megawatts at its peak, used primarily for electricity, heating and making water.
Water used for crop irrigation comes from the Spencer Gulf and converted into freshwater through a thermal desalination unit. Head grower Adrian Simkins, who committed 20 years running tomato greenhouses in Europe and North America, said that the desalinated water is “almost the perfect water.” After taking out the salt, the water becomes pure and shows no sign of disease, even able to be enhanced with the nutrition that the plants require.
The technology is the brainchild of company Sundrop Farms, which developed the idea at a smaller pilot plant on the outskirts of Port Augusta. Philipp Saumweber, a former investment banker with a background in funding international agricultural projects, and Dutch civil engineer Reinier Wolterbeek, with a master’s degree in water management, head this project.
It will officially open on the first week of October.