Innovation That Matters

Tomatoes grown with mirrors in the desert

Food & Drink

In Australia, Sundrop Farms are growing tomatoes using seawater and 23,000 mirrors.

A number of projects are using technology to expand the sustainable capabilities of farming. A floating eco farm that uses cow manure to power production and a vertical farm that facilitates low water and low energy food production are just a few that we have recently covered. In Australia, Sundrop Farm is using mirrors to harness the sun’s energy and grow tomatoes more sustainably.

Launched on 6th October, Sundrop Farm spans 20 hectares in the South Australian desert. A field of 23,000 mirrors angled to direct the sun’s rays to shine on a central water tower, produces enough energy to farm tomatoes on an industrial scale. The energy is used for electricity and for the conversion of seawater to fresh water that can be used for irrigation. Piped in from the Spencer Gulf five kilometers away, the farm uses seawater as the sole irrigation source. The water is thermally desalinated and nutrients are added to nourish plants. Sundrop’s launch is the culmination of 2 years of piloting. The project has just secured a 10-year contract with Australian retailer, Coles, to supply 15,000 tonnes of tomatoes annually.

The farm isn’t yet entirely energy independent and relies on the grid for up to 15% of its power supply, particularly in winter when the sun is weak. Could this use of mirrors be adopted by other energy consuming sectors to make them more sustainable?




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