Growing food in arid places along the sea shore using salt water is a lot more feasible than you think. The Jellyfish Barge designed by Pnat in Italy produces its own fresh water to fuel the nutrition for their hydroponic crops. This may not be the first floating farm to come along, but it’s unique and has already leapt from concept to a working garden.
Much like that floating dock in the middle of a lake, this recently revealed indoor garden barge floats on repurposed plastic barrels, but harvested sea water and the desalinated product are also making use of them as reservoirs. Unlike the incredibly costly method of creating fresh water in the desert designed by Seawater Greenhouses being used in the Arab Emirates, and Australia, Pnat’s water generation is compact and located on the perimeter of the barge’s greenhouse. They can produce up to 150 liters of water for the hydroponic system daily with seven solar desalination setups, and naturally its up to the sun how much solar distillation takes place in a day.
Vertical growing allows them to have a much larger garden than the small footprint of the barge could offer. They have stacked rows of PVC pipe face the walls, and another set that rings the center, which doubles the amount of plants you can grow. Currently they have the capacity for 200 plants on the outside racks alone, while the interior being much smaller probably adds another 100 growing spots. The working Jellyfish only has 5 rows of trough in place per section and there is one more rail in the ladder-style trough racks, so they can add more growing space very easily.
I really like the way they built the trough racks. Foresight! There is room to walk between the inner and outer rows of plants making it easy to pick from both sides so not one fruit is overlooked. You can see it better in this rendering image. Rows are spaced apart height-wise for greens, herbs, and other shorter plants, but there is sufficient sunlight to grow some lovely tomatoes in this floating greenhouse.
You can get more details and some background on the team that created the Jellyfish Barge on their website. They aren’t new to growing with hydro, this floating farm grew from their experience with their Jellyfish Farm, a very cool looking indoor garden setup!