Russian scientists are about to grow watermelons in Antarctica

Russian scientists are about to plant watermelons in Antarctica - Photo 1.

A scientist at the Vostok Research Station next to tomatoes grown in Antarctica – Photo: RIA NOVOSTI

According to the RIA news agency, Russian scientists at the Vostok Research Station in Antarctica will plant watermelons and cucumbers in the coldest part of the planet from February 2023 and will harvest them 68 days after planting.

Researcher Andrey Teplyakov said the watermelons will be about 20cm in diameter, smaller than normal watermelons but are promised to bring out the same taste as normal melons.

In November 2022, the Arctic and Antarctic Research Institute (AARI) announced a bumper crop of 28.5kg of tomatoes and 9kg of black pepper per square meter planted.

Previously, scientists had successfully harvested 94kg of mustard greens, 72kg of canola, 69kg of collard greens, 32kg of sprouts and 53kg of dandelion.

Of them, half of the harvested vegetables and fruits will serve the needs of researchers in the Antarctic region, the rest will be sent to the Saint Petersburgh Institute for Agricultural Physics (AFI). research.

Currently, scientists at AFI are still continuing to research and develop a new method of growing plants called panoponics based on the principles of hydroponics and aeroponics.

Specifically, instead of using soil, panoponics uses a thin substrate of fabric-like materials containing nutrient solutions with concentrations and nutrient compositions similar to those found in nature.

Besides, the panoponics method also uses an LED system with a spectrum similar to that of the sun instead of the amount of natural light from the sun.

This is also one of the experiments in creating a new food supply for astronauts on missions to the International Space Station (ISS) or in further targets on Mars or the Moon. .

The choice of Vostok research station as the place to carry out the above experiments because the climate and temperature conditions in Antarctica are the closest to those of extraterrestrial planets.

In addition, AFI’s efforts in growing vegetables and fruits in Antarctica are also aimed at developing a new technology that will allow people in the harsh climates of northern Russia such as Siberia to grow their own crops. vegetables and fruits.

In Siberia, vegetables are extremely expensive because they cannot be grown and maintaining the right temperature and light for growing in greenhouses in this region is too costly.

With the panoponics method, people can grow their own vegetables at home and most importantly, the farming method only needs to use electricity to maintain the operation of the LED lighting system.

However, planting trees in Antarctica also has a disadvantage that is that the pollination of plants must be done by humans because there are no insects such as bees or butterflies in this area.

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