Antarctica’s nonstop winters make it impossible to grow food outdoors. Fruits and vegetables are instead shipped long distances from overseas, just a few times per year.
Called the Eden-ISS, the greenhouse exists inside a climate-controlled shipping container. It relies on a technique called vertical farming, in which food grows on trays or hanging modules under LEDs instead of natural sunlight.
Take a look at the greenhouse below.
Before the Eden-ISS shipping container farm debuted in Antarctica in October 2017, the GAC tested growing fruits and vegetables at its headquarters in Bremen, Germany.
The 135-square-foot greenhouse can grow all sorts of produce indoors. Harvesting food outdoors is impossible in Antarctica due to its endless winters.
The only way to get produce to McMurdo, the US station where the majority of Antarctic researchers stay, is by ship or plane.
GAC scientist Paul Zabel moved with the farm to Antarctica, where he is growing fruits and vegetables under 42 LED lamps.
Since the farm is climate-controlled, it can grow crops year-round in a place where temperatures can plummet as low as -100 degrees Fahrenheit.
As Modern Farmer notes, some sub-Arctic regions are experiencing somewhat of an agricultural boom, due partly to climate change.
Over the past 100 years, Arctic temperatures have increased at nearly twice the global average, making it possible to grow crops in once-desolate places like Yellowknife in Canada and Greenland.
To help the plants thrive, the researchers pump in extra carbon dioxide and set the temperature at 75 degrees Fahrenheit.
The LEDs are tuned to red and blue wavelengths — the optimal light frequencies for growing produce.
The crops are stacked on trays. Every few minutes, they receive a spritz of nutrient-rich mist.
The researchers plan to grow between 30 and 50 different species, including leafy greens, peppers, strawberries, radishes, and tomatoes, as well as herbs like basil and parsley.
In July 2017, the team grew its first cucumber, which measured 96 grams and 14 centimeters long, inside Eden-ISS.
In April, the team harvested its first full crop of vegetables.
Source: The AP
The scientists have picked eight pounds of salad greens, 18 cucumbers, and 70 radishes grown inside the greenhouse as temperatures outside sunk below -4 degrees Fahrenheit.
By May, they aim to harvest nine to 11 pounds of fruits and vegetables per week.
Last February, the GAC built the farm’s platform by crane in Antarctica. Everything else arrived in late 2017.
The larger goal of the Eden-ISS project is to create a system that allows GAC astronauts to harvest food in space.
If the researchers can perfect a growing process for Antarctica’s harsh climate, they may stand a chance at growing on Mars or the moon.
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