Project Everest

Floating Crops to Mitigate Flooding

A huge issue in Fiji and other countries is flooding. Although good for the soil, this renders the land unusable for months on end, resulting in crop and income losses for the farmers.

But how can we mitigate this?

The obvious choice would be to improve drainage of the land. But this can be expensive as machinery is required and can be impractical for many farmers because of how extensive flooding can be.

So. What if we could integrate crops that are adapted to flooding? This means farmers can produce crops year round and adapt to their climate.

Crops such as taro, watercress and elderberry are adapted to having ‘wet feet’ (roots in  waterlogged soil) for prolonged periods of time.

Obviously this solution will depend on the extent of flooding. If its more than say a metre deep, other alternatives will need to come into play. Here is where I suggest a simple version of hydroponics.

Hydroponics can be really high tech and expensive to set up. But it doesn’t have to be. If you have a body of relatively clean water, then you can grow crops on the waters surface. Simply set up a pontoon, shove some plants in gaps and your good to go (sort-of).

Obviously this will need to be tested to work out the ins and outs but why not see how we can implement this in developing countries?

The potential of floating crops or using plants adapted to waterlogged conditions will change the way farmers produce their crops to provide year-round income and supply food for the communities we work in. It is an opportunity that FarmEd can definitely take advantage of so I'm keen to hear your thoughts on the idea.

Tagged users
edited on Jul 18, 2017 by Lisa Paisley

Zoe Paisley Jul 18, 2017

Another option would be 'Living Fences'.
If we could grow plants (shrubs, trees etc) around the perimeter of crops to create a dense wall that is stable enough to withstand flooding, then less water will impact the main crops as less water will pass through this fence. These plants could include native plants to the region, to improve biodiversity, and trees as their deep tap roots can provide stability for the plant and the soil.
If these fences are crops, it could also provide another revenue stream for producers. Obviously research into the specific crops suitable to this is needed along with research investigating the effectiveness of these living fences, but its an option to consider.

Jimmy Bayssari Jul 22, 2017

I have limited ag. knowledge, but could cotton be something to consider given it is flood irrigated?

Zoe Paisley Jul 23, 2017

Cotton is definitely used to having 'wet feet' so waterlogging won't be such an issue for this crop. So we could definitely test it out.
One concern will be the prolonged water logging - normally you would irrigate on a schedule, whereas it is uncertain how long cotton could be flooded for (days to weeks?). But definitely a great crop to start testing with.
The other thing is, there seems to be 'native/naturalised' cotton throughout Fiji which would be awesome to work with.

Andrew Vild Jul 27, 2017

Lisa! I have a few ideas on this front and think this is a great start, however, we can go bigger picture!

I posted my idea around this here:

Essentially scaling up a kickstarter campaign that I've backed called the World's Smallest Garden. I think we could do adaptions of it for uses in home gardens, flooded ag fields etc.

Users tagged: