Port Augusta – the new tomato growing capital

Solar power and desalination has turned a non-arable area into a thriving farm.

A 20-hectare solar desalination tomato farm opened near Port Augusta South Australia today – the first of its kind anywhere in the world.

Sundrop Farms grows and supplies 15,000 tonnes truss tomatoes to supermarket chain Coles each year.

Sundrop managing director Steve Maraflote said the greenhouse would set the standard for fresh food production reduced the impact of weather variability on the crop.

It also opened up areas with no grid power or water to agriculture, as was the case with the Port Augusta greenhouse.

South Australian Premier Jay Weatherill welcomed the project to Port Augusta.

“This state-of-the-art development is a massive boost for Port Augusta and the Upper Spencer Gulf, creating almost 200 jobs and heralding the start of an exciting new industry for the region,” he said.

The 20 hectare greenhouse will produce more than 15 million kilograms of vegetables annuall.

By using desalination and solar energy Sundrop anticipates it will save 26,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide a year; more than 450,000m3 of freshwater a year; and more than two million litres of diesel a year.