Professor Ricardo Radulovich of the University of Costa Rica has been working on techniques for growing vegetables on rafts and flotation devices. Over the past decade he and his team have developed several techniques for growing lettuce, tomato, cucumber and cantaloupe melons, among others. Some of the plant roots are allowed to drag through the water while others are reliant upon cotton cloths transferring water. At the moment all plants are potted, but they are researching submersible techniques. They believe that crops such as rice have a potential for growth in this manner.
The potential applications for Aquatic Agriculture are quite extraordinary. In areas where land rights and water rights prevent farmers from watering their crops, this could serve as an alternative model of farming. This project taps into the underutilized potential of lakes and rivers as a surface to grow vegetables. By making aquatic farm plots technology accessible to landless families this innovation could become an asset to innumerable communities. Also, the roots of the team’s plants attracted smaller fish, which in turn attracted large fish; yet another potential application.
This technology is still in its infancy and has yet to be conducted in outside of tightly controlled conditions. Also, the team has noted longer growth times for crops in water than on land. Currently the costs of using this technology far out weigh its benefits, which is another limiting factor. If this technology does grow in popularity we could see a crowing of river systems. Aquatic plots are also difficult to monitor and thus more prevalent to theft and destruction.
Prof. Radulovich and his team were awarded a grant from Grand Challenges Canada which is funded by the government of Canada.
The article content was sourced from “Aquatic agriculture offers a new solution to the problem of water scarcity.”
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