Underwater farming as a potential part of future planning.
Underwater farming is a relatively fresh concept that has gained attention in recent years as an alternative to preventing deforestation. This innovative approach involves growing crops underwater in specific structures known as “underwater farms”, which could have a wide range of environmental and community benefits.
Figure 1: Nemo’s Garden Project side view. (https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2021/07/underwater-farms-sustainable/)
One of the key benefits of underwater farming is that it can assist to alleviate the demand for land-based agriculture, which frequently results in deforestation and other detrimental effects on biodiversity. Farmers can grow food and other crops without requiring large land use, which could help conserve existing forests and other natural areas.
In addition, this method has the potential to promote food security and economic development in coastal communities (NOAA Fisheries 2020). Underwater farming could assist to minimise reliance on imported items (simultaneously reducing pollution from transportation) and support local economic growth by providing a new supply of locally farmed food.
Figure 2: North Atlantic seaweed farm.(https://aquaculturemag.com/2018/07/24/college-of-atlantic-launches-partnership-with-largest-u-s-seaweed-farm/)
Growing crops underwater also helps the environment by reducing the need for pesticides because pests cannot penetrate the pods unless they are introduced. This not only helps to lessen farming’s environmental impact, but also assures that the food is safer and healthier for human consumption (McEachran, R., 2018).
The Nemo’s Garden project, which began in Italy in 2012, is one example of underwater farming in functioning. This study has proved the possibility of underwater farming as a form of sustainable food production by growing crops in specialised structures that are anchored to the sea floor (Ocean Reef Group, 2018).
Figure 3: Nemo’s Garden Project farm inside view.(https://7news.com.au/stories/how-underwater-farming-is-revolutionising-agriculture/)
Despite its potential advantages, underwater farming is still a new and unproven idea, and a number of issues must be resolved before it can be extensively used. For example, this concept requires the development of specific equipment and infrastructure, and there may be constitutional and logistical challenges that must be resolved to ensure the safety and sustainability of this approach.
To summarise, underwater farming is an innovative and intriguing new strategy for preventing deforestation which in turn exacerbates climate change and for reducing pressure on land-based agriculture. While there are hurdles to overcome, its potential benefits for the environment, local communities, and food security make it an exciting field for additional research and development.
McEachran, R. (2018). Under the sea: the underwater farms growing basil, strawberries and lettuce. [online] the Guardian. Available at: https://www.theguardian.com/sustainable-business/2015/aug/13/food-growing-underwater-sea-pods-nemos-garden-italy.
NOAA Fisheries (2020). Aquaculture Supports a Sustainable Earth | NOAA Fisheries. [online] NOAA. Available at: https://www.fisheries.noaa.gov/feature-story/aquaculture-supports-sustainable-earth.
Ocean Reef Group (2018). The Rock. [online] Nemo’s Garden. Available at: http://www.nemosgarden.com/underwater-vs-standard-agriculture/.
Wartsila.com. (n.d.). Is underwater farming the way forward? [online] Available at: https://www.wartsila.com/insights/article/is-underwater-farming-the-way-forward.