Growing Vegetables in Seawater

This unique farm is growing crops with water from the ocean.

Jun 17, 2022
Growing Vegetables in Seawater | This unique farm is growing crops with water from the ocean.

Most farms are located in rural areas and are irrigated by freshwater. Now, a startup in Scotland is farming near the coast and using saltwater to grow vegetables. Using the water of the ocean for irrigation can be a game changer for a hungry world.

Food production needs to increase by 70 percent in the next 30 years to keep up with population increases, reported Euro News. Freshwater only makes up two percent of all the water of the planet, and it is growing scarcer in many places due to climate change. Now, Seawater Solutions – a Glasgow based NGO founded in 2017 –  is using saltwater instead of freshwater to grow sea vegetables.

How to grow food using sea water
Co-founder and CEO Yanik Nyberg lived and worked in areas of Africa and Asia that have been negatively impacted by water scarcity and global warming. Seawater Solutions was created to address the issues of coastal communities that also face the urgent concerns of land salinization and the erosion the economy in these affected areas, according to the organization’s website.

In an interview, Nyberg told The Nation that he came up with the idea of redeveloping degraded farmland and turning it into artificial wetland ecosystems that use seawater and grow plants that can tolerate the salt.

“It’s a relatively simple concept, “ he said. “Seawater is introduced to coastal farmland and aquaculture facilities, where naturally salt-tolerant crops are grown. These crops, such as samphire and sea aster, store massive amounts of carbon and are extremely nutritious, being heralded as "superfoods" across the world.”

View this post on Instagram

A post shared by @seawatersolutions

The new farmland consists of artificial saltwater marshes that have seawater pumped over them, according to Euro News. Then the ecosystem will be used for saline plants – called halophytes – which can be used for food, biofuels, sea-plant animal foods, and as raw materials for cosmetics.

Dowhill Farm
Even though Scotland is known for its wet weather, in 2020, the UK only received half of its usual rainfall and is facing droughts due to climate change. That’s why Dowhill Farm in Ayrshire uses water from the Atlantic Ocean to grow crops.

The farm grows samphire and sea aster that are used for food. While these are not your ordinary vegetables, they  are sold to upscale restaurants, fish mongers,  and in Tesco, a UK supermarket chain. In fact, the demand for samphire went sky high after the plant was featured on several cooking shows.

The farms artificial salt marshes are powered by renewable energy to make it environmentally sustainable and economical too. In fact, growing halophytes provides a ten-time greater yield per hectare of land.

Seawater Solutions also has projects in Ghana, Malawi, Namibia ,and Spain, with more in the planning stage. While growing crops in seawater is a hard sell, it is an environmentally sound way to meet the food demands of a growing world population, one wetland ecosystem at a time.

Seaweed Forests Could Help Save Our Planet
Ocean Farmers Grow Food That Cleans up Pollution and Tastes Good Too
Drought-Proof Cooling Houses Grows Tons of Healthy Produce in the Desert

Bonnie has dedicated her life to promoting social justice. She loves to write about empowering women, helping children, educational innovations, and advocating for the environment & sustainability.