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Tech Fix - Agriculture

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18 May 1830. Briton Edwin Budding signed an agreement for his new invention, the lawn mower, to go into production. South Australia, Wet and Dry #NASA. Interactive mirror made of 3,000 flowers responds to your movement. We could see getting into this. Growing crops in the Soviet retrofuture. Artist uncredited. Q & A: Egypt’s Greening Desert. Are we nearly there yet? Future in the past: #techfix in #agriculture (remote control was foreseen, not GPS)

Soviet vision of the future. Excerpt from 1958 film 'It Happened In Pen'kov'. 'Imagine, there's a a tractor, but no one is inside it.' Al Jawf, Eastern Libya. Astronauts aboard the International Space Station used an 1150 mm lens to capture this photograph of a variety of agricultural patterns near an oasis in eastern Libya.

Al Jawf, Eastern Libya

This area is one of the most remote places in Africa, more than 900 kilometers (560 miles) from the nearest major city. The cluster of buildings, roads, and small farming operations near the top of the photo is the town of Al Jawf. Each farming pattern in the image is related to different irrigation methods. In the future, will farming be fully automated? Image copyright CNH Industrial In the not-too-distant future, our fields could be tilled, sown, tended and harvested entirely by fleets of co-operating autonomous machines by land and air.

In the future, will farming be fully automated?

And they'll be working both day and night. Driverless tractors that can follow pre-programmed routes are already being deployed at large farms around the world. Drones are buzzing over fields assessing crop health and soil conditions. Ground sensors are monitoring the amount of water and nutrients in the soil, triggering irrigation and fertiliser applications. And in Japan, the world's first entirely automated lettuce farm is due for launch next year. The future of farming is automated. Food shortages, big business The World Bank says we'll need to produce 50% more food by 2050 if the global population continues to rise at its current pace.

But the effects of climate change could see crop yields falling by more than a quarter. No wonder the agricultural robotics sector is growing so fast. This massive farm grows 15% of Australia's tomatoes without soil, fresh water or fossil fuels. Did you know there is a way to grow tons of fresh fruits and vegetables with saltwater and solar energy?

This massive farm grows 15% of Australia's tomatoes without soil, fresh water or fossil fuels

The good people at SunDrop Farms are doing just that with their Australian operation, where they grow 15 percent of the nation’s tomatoes. Seawater is piped in from a nearby gulf, desalinated using the reflected heat of the sun, and sprinkled on hydroponically grown produce in a revolutionary, renewable cycle of production. SunDrop Farms’ operation is fossil fuel-free, freshwater-free, and soil-free, eliminating the need for some of the most financially and environmentally costly elements in the agriculture business. The company told Aljazeera their sustainable method of growing produce slashes “26,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide” and 180 Olympic-sized swimming pools of fresh water each year, which is just what a rapidly growing population needs to offset human demand on Mother Earth.

Related: Solar-powered Ring Garden marries desalination and agriculture for drought-stricken California. This world-first farm grows vegetables in the desert with nothing but Sun and seawater. Sundrop Farms in the South Australian desert manages to grow 17,000 tonnes of tomatoes every year using nothing but sunlight and seawater.

This world-first farm grows vegetables in the desert with nothing but Sun and seawater

The indoor farm is the first of its kind, and the result of six years of research by an international team of scientists who wanted to find a way to produce crops without needing fresh water, soil, or unnecessary energy from the grid – something we'll need to get used to when these resources become more scarce. "A conventional greenhouse uses groundwater for irrigation, gas for heating, and electricity for cooling," the team says on their site. "A Sundrop greenhouse turns seawater and sunlight into energy and water. We then use sustainably sourced carbon dioxide and nutrients to maximise the growth of our crops. " The Cocoon: a biodegradable vessel that nurtures tree growth in harsh and arid conditions Land Life Company Cocoon just planted – Inhabitat - Green Design, Innovation, Architecture, Green Building. 1958 'Imagine, there's a a tractor, but no one is inside it.'

Autonomous tractor event with @CNHIndustrial tomorrow - watch out for some demos & follow @jeremy_morley too. TechFix: Water transfer #irrigation #remotesensing Near-infrared imagery of the Turkey/Syria border—Turkey's chlorophyll-rich crops contrast with Syria's fallow fields. Self-fertilizing crops: Nitrogen fix. A Desert Full of Tomatoes, Thanks to Solar Power and Seawater.

At first glance, growing fruit in the desert sounds like an awfully good way to feed a mushrooming global population and adapt to the worst effects of climate change.

A Desert Full of Tomatoes, Thanks to Solar Power and Seawater

And a farm in South Australia run by the greenhouse developer Sundrop Farms is doing just that, using solar power to desalinate water and grow tomatoes in the otherwise parched landscape. Farmers Weekly reports that the $150 million facility focuses sunlight from 23,000 mirrors onto a tower to produce energy that drives an attached desalination system. Sucking water from the nearby Spencer Gulf, it produces up to one million liters of fresh water every day. The result is tomatoes—lots of tomatoes. The farm fills eight trucks every day with greenhouse-raised tomatoes, and it’s expected to produce more than 15,000 tons of the things per year when it reaches full capacity.

He has a point. That may change as cheaper techniques become more robust and fresh water supplies dwindle in some places as a result of climate change. This world-first farm grows vegetables in the desert with nothing but Sun and seawater.