It may look like the setting for a science fiction thriller in these photos, but this underwater research farm for terrestrial plants is exploring novel agriculture
Agency Nemo’s Garden by Ocean Reef Group
THIS otherworldly, underwater environment is more than just a cool diving spot. It is a sunken farm for terrestrial plants. Called Nemo’s Garden, it is located in the sea off Noli on the Italian Riviera and was created to explore the possibilities of novel agriculture.
The “garden” is a research project run by diving equipment company Ocean Reef Group. It is developing mostly hydroponic techniques, which don’t require soil, for growing plants in six large underwater domes. These floating biospheres are largely self-sustaining systems that each hold about 2000 litres of air. They are secured at between 5 and 10 metres below the surface.
The combination of warming sunlight and cool seawater maintains plant-friendly humidity and warmth within the domes, with daytime air temperatures reaching 24 to 32°C. Other conditions, including carbon dioxide and oxygen levels, are closely monitored.
This approach has several advantages, claims Ocean Reef Group: it is somewhat independent of weather, and there are no parasites, so pesticides aren’t needed. The team is still investigating which types of plant, including vegetables, are best suited to growing underwater.
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