Underwater Farming Is Thriving on the Italian Riviera and It’s Cultivating Basil with a More Robust Flavor!
Cultivation doesn’t have to be limited to land. It turns out that crops thrive underwater too and its environment is just as ideal – if not more, and it can even bring out more robust flavors! Well, Italy is on the case – and we know we can count on their taste buds! This underwater cultivation project is taking place on the stunning Italian Riviera, just off the coast of Noli, Italy and it’s called “Nemo’s Garden.”
It’s an underwater farm composed of 6 air-filled clear plastic pods, anchored to the bottom of the sea by chains and screws. These domes, also known as biospheres, placed on the sea bed are proving that certain plants can grow almost as well as on land. Basil, the hugely popular herb used to make pesto, is also said to have a more intense flavor. This experiment involves “underwater gardeners” who need to dive down with an oxygen tank to pick their crops, however.
Nemo’s Garden is the brainchild of Sergio Gamberini, founder of diving equipment ﬁrm Ocean Reef Group, and also an avid gardener and diving enthusiast. Gamberini and his team started experimenting and sinking transparent biospheres 20 feet below the sea’s surface and ﬁlling them with air.
What makes Nemo’s Garden work is its utilization of natural resources that are already available within the oceans and other bodies of water. This eco-friendly and self-sustainable project uses renewable energy harnessed from the sun and fresh water obtained by the desalination of seawater. The microclimate and thermal conditions within the biospheres are ideal for plant growth and crop yields. Unlike a traditional greenhouse, it doesn’t require any additional energy sources. Underwater farms also don’t disturb or interact with the marine environment and related ecosystems.
The environment is controlled within each biosphere thanks to its sensors for CO2, O2, humidity, air temperature, and illumination. Within the more shallow and deeper biospheres, the external water temperature is monitored. This mostly hydroponic-based system doesn’t need power, temperature regulation tools, or LED lighting. A fan is powered by solar panels on top of the Control Tower to create airflow, which reduces humidity on the leaves of the plants.
The objective of Nemo’s Garden is to develop a technique for using the ocean for irrigation in arid regions where it’s difficult for plants to grow. It’s also opened the door to pharmaceutical exploration to see if underwater cultivation could be an alternative solution for growing plants, or lead to new discoveries. Other applications include eco-tourism, fish farming, seaweed farming, scientific research labs or underwater stations for monitoring wildlife, scientific research, etc. The underwater possibilities are endless!
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