An Overview Of Underwater Agriculture

Farming in modern life is posing a lot of problems. Due to the people’s need to expand the farm for more products, the farmer has been unintentionally destroying many other wildlife animals and trees’ habitats.

Many natural forests have turned into cultivated fields. This trend has made a major concern – deforestation. With this act, animal extinction, natural disaster, and imbalances, landslides have become more and more popular in many regions all over the world.

There are many solutions offered. One of the most promising solutions is underwater agriculture.

Why Shall Underwater Agriculture Be A Solution?

An Overview Of Underwater Agriculture

In the past, farming under the water might be an impossible mission or, at the least, there is more land available for growth.

However, modern industrialization and the proliferation of buildings have narrowed down arable land. Other than that, the climate change problems and population increase also make land-base framing in a crisis.

One recommended solution to increase the farming land and production by scientists is agriculture underwater. It is promising as 71% of the earth’s surface is the ocean, and we will have more options to grow our crops.

How Is Underwater Agriculture Carried Out Right Now?

You might be familiar with farming underwater that gives us many types of seafood. However, harvesting other foods from the sea might take a lot of research and time to practice.

So, at the moment, there are 2 projects of agriculture underwater: Nemo’s Garden in Italy and the 3D Ocean in the USA.

Nemo’s Garden

An Overview Of Underwater Agriculture

For Nemo’s Garden, you will have biospheres to plant the vegetables. With this way of raising, your vegetable will get no harm from pets, insects, or strong wind.

And for the freshwater, there is a desalination system working 24/7 to make sure the plants absorb enough water. As the glass biospheres are made in glass, the plants can observe the sunlight.

3D Ocean Farming

An Overview Of Underwater Agriculture

On the other hand, 3D ocean farming is a vertical garden where mussels and kelp naturally grow on floating ropes of cages, raising clams and oysters.

This project has harvested 20 tons of sea vegetables and about 500,000 selfish annually. So for this project, you will not need fertilizers and fresh water, which is a key to sustainable agriculture.

What menu you could have from this project? Well, kelp is good to protect the ocean by transforming nitrogen and carbon from the water. From that, you can have good habitat for sea creatures like shrimp and crabs.

Besides growing plants and offering biofuel, this project is also the home of many birds and marine species.

Consumers Consumption Of Underwater Crop Products

Obviously, it is all well when you grow crops underwater. But do you want that food? It depends on consumer asperities and scalability.

It is good news for the last few years: there is an increase in the number of people’s favorite local plates of seafood. Samphire in the UK, for instance, has become a popular dish in menus of many restaurants and households.

Or you can find more sea beet, kale, and seaweed used in restaurants as a favorite option for vegans.

And as mentioned in the 3D project above, its product is mainly kelp. Even though it has quite a bad taste, it is a compact of nutrients. It offers more iron and protein than beef and a higher calcium supply than milk. Interesting, right?.

So are you going to switch to the kelp diet to help our planet?

Drawbacks of Underwater Agriculture

Obviously, this is encouraging as more and more consumers are interested in products from underwater planting model.

But admittedly, underwater farming still does not meet the food demands of the majority of the population worldwide.

While there are projects in underwater crop production, they are like Nemo’s Garden, and 3D ocean farming is still on a small scale. And there are still more difficulty need to overcome

For example, in Nemo’s Garden project, it is essential to train scuba divers so that they can take care of the pods. This requires a large amount of expense and raises some safety concerns.  

Meanwhile, the 3D ocean farming project can mostly supply kelp. Popular Science has admitted that it is hard to use kelp as a food due to its quite bad taste. It will be a challenge for professional chefs to create a good dish to replace the land-based plan.

So we still need more time to find the best solution. Before there is a sustainable commercial project, we still need more research on diversity, depth setup, and biosphere conditions.

This is Nemo’s Garden, it’s an underwater farm created by the Ocean Reef Group:

Sum Up

Now you might have an overview of Underwater Agriculture. It is quite a new and interesting direction that can develop in the future. This not only can bring more options for your diet but also create a clean sea environment.

Why not try a sea vegetable now and see if you like it more than the land-based vegetable? We wish you the best! Cheer!

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Jill Sandy

Jill Sandy

Jill is a sustainable focus gardener. She loves decorating her home backyard with beautiful landscape design and creative garden care techniques she develops herself. You can reach her at [email protected]

Chanh Ho (MD, MPH)

Chanh Ho (MD, MPH)

Chanh is our Head of Medical Review. He is a research physician at Oxford University Clinical Research Unit. After accomplishing the program of level 1 sub-specialty in Pediatrics, he was awarded the Chevening Scholarship for his Master’s degree of Public Health in the University of Edinburgh in 2019

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