http://f.fastcompany.net/multisite_files/fastcompany/imagecache/slideshow_large/slideshow/2015/10/3051554-slide-s-7-california-farms-could-grow-cactus.jpg

And finally every dryland country will get the spineless Opuntia ficus-indica

Photo credit: Fast Co Exist

 

California Has No Water, So It Might Be Time To Start Farming Cactus

Livestock can eat the drought-tolerant cactus, and we can eat the livestock, and everyone can be happy.

One designer thinks it might be time to try focusing on something else: Cactus. http://h.fastcompany.net/multisite_files/fastcompany/imagecache/slideshow_large/slideshow/2015/10/3051554-slide-s-3-california-farms-could-grow-cactus.jpg
One designer thinks it might be time to try focusing on something else: Cactus.
http://h.fastcompany.net/multisite_files/fastcompany/imagecache/slideshow_large/slideshow/2015/10/3051554-slide-s-3-california-farms-could-grow-cactus.jpg

As California lurches through a fourth year of drought, it’s still the country’s top producer of thirsty crops like almonds, tomatoes, and nectarines. One designer thinks it might be time to try focusing on something else: Cactus.

In a conceptual project called Grassroots Cactivism, winner of Archinect’s Dry Futures contest, Ali Chen envisions a model for a massive cactus farm that would help produce livestock feed. Because cacti also happen to work as natural water filters, Chen paired the farm with a water treatment plant.

“It was quite an amazing coincidence to find that cactus is not only drought tolerant and edible, but that it has the ability to clean water,” she says. “It was only logical and efficient to combine these two functions into one facility to minimize transportation costs and fuel.”

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http://a.fastcompany.net/multisite_files/fastcompany/imagecache/slideshow_large/slideshow/2015/10/3051554-slide-s-2-california-farms-could-grow-cactus.jpg

Since a surprisingly large amount of water on California farms goes to crops like alfalfa that are used for livestock feed (this is a large part of the reason why a single burger uses660 gallons of water), Chen wanted to find a replacement. Cactus, it turns out, can serve as a healthy substitute for at least part of a cow’s meal, and the plant is already in use in some other drought-prone regions, like Texas.

Read the full article: Fast Co Exist

Published by

Willem Van Cotthem

Honorary Professor of Botany, University of Ghent (Belgium). Scientific Consultant for Desertification and Sustainable Development.