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Desert Farming Experiment Yields Good Initial Results 178

Taco Cowboy writes "For the past year or so, a tiny scale farming experiment in has been carried out in the desert field of Qatar, using only sunlight and seawater. From the article: 'A pilot plant built by the Sahara Forest Project (SFP) produced 75 kilograms of vegetables per square meter in three crops annually (or 25 kilograms per square meter, per crop)' If the yield level can be maintained, a farm of the size of 60 hectares would be enough to supply the nation of Qatar with all the cucumbers, tomatoes, peppers, and egglants that it needs. 'The project will proceed to the next stage with an expansion to 20 hectares, to test its viability into commercial operation.'"
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Desert Farming Experiment Yields Good Initial Results

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday November 12, 2013 @04:27AM (#45398537)

    I'm taking a swag here but alot of middle eastern/mediteranian food uses those things in abundance

  • by upuv ( 1201447 ) on Tuesday November 12, 2013 @04:33AM (#45398569) Journal

    It has to be commercially viable. So choose stuff people want.

    This is about growing food people will consume. If in the same shoes I would choose the same crops. Not because they are the most efficient, not because they are the best for you. But because it's the income that will allow the plant to continue to grow food. Local food.

    And it's that last two words that matter most. Local food. As in the amount of oil used to transport the food from a far off land is drastically reduced.

    Even if the crops are not the best source of nutrition they are still better for you in the long run. Simply because the cost in carbon and energy is so low.

    And to top it off this is only the start. In the future when the tech becomes cheaper and easier to implement the market is easier for people like your self to grow a radish or 6.

  • fertilizer? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by dutchwhizzman ( 817898 ) on Tuesday November 12, 2013 @05:20AM (#45398779)
    How will they fertilize this? Are they using desert ground, or are they just using the location and using fertile ground or hydroponics? I know that Australia's attempt to irrigate desert ground to grow crops turned whole regions so saline that even desert plants won't grow there anymore.
  • by Lucky_Pierre ( 175635 ) on Tuesday November 12, 2013 @07:48AM (#45399255)

    They have the most experience in greenhouses and desert agriculture. Even the Navajo Nation is studying Israeli methods.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday November 12, 2013 @08:42AM (#45399451)

    The vines of these crops are indeterminate, and will flower and produce as long as you take care of them. 12 or 18 months is the typical cycle though. They go though and harvest every day. You can't have indeterminate grains as harvest would be a nightmare. And yes all of thos crops are something like 85-90% water.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday November 12, 2013 @09:38AM (#45399811)

    When you are setting up a new industry you go with high profit, then someday when the business model is proven out and streamlined you can do something that is much lower profit.

    As it is if they want high calorie they could buy a load of grain from the US for 1/100 the price they could grow in the desert. Vegtables on the other hand don't ship as easily as grain, so growing them locally would make more sense as customers pay a premium for the higher quality.

  • by Greyfox ( 87712 ) on Tuesday November 12, 2013 @10:27AM (#45400269) Homepage Journal
    No one eats radishes or knows what to do with them.

    I don't know about cucumbers, but given some tomatoes and eggplant and you're well on your way to a nice stew. Just add some goat, onion, garlic, cumin, salt and pepper and you'll feed the family for a week!

  • Re:Economics (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Kjella ( 173770 ) on Tuesday November 12, 2013 @11:19AM (#45400853) Homepage

    The Wordpress blog's conclusions at least, in reality the last problem is the same as the first problem. We use so much energy and resources because we can afford to, if "the rest of the world" had money to compete for those resources we'd have to cut back. And despite what the Greens feel like we do recycle and care about emissions and pollution but we also like our cars and huge houses and big screen TVs and air condition and holidays in exotic places. We're not going to stop until we can't afford to, anyone who thinks the first world is going to voluntarily live like the third world is seriously deluded. Next month I'm going on a long vacation flight and I really want this vacation, I can afford it and no amount of eco-babble is going to make me sorry for the CO2 burn.

    Like they're pointing out, people are getting literate. People are getting educated. People are getting better health. People spend less time child-bearing. The rest of the world is trying very hard to take over the first world work and bring down the wage equality between them and us. And of course we hate it, you can see people frothing at the mouth if I mention outsourcing here. But I totally understand the employees who of course would like to undercut a westerner and make a lower, but locally still a very good salary. With the world becoming far more connected you are going to get a lot less screwed just for being born in a third world country and you are going to get much less of a free ride for being born in a first world country. The differences are still huge of course, but there's poor and there's illiterate, seven kids, bad health poor.

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