Polar explorers in the Antarctic “Vostok” have grown watermelons.
The successful growth of watermelons by Russian polar explorers at the Vostok station in Antarctica is a remarkable achievement in agricultural research and experimentation in extreme environments. Advanced pyrotechnical techniques, including a specially designed soil substitute, optimized light spectrum, and nutrient solutions, were crucial in creating conditions suitable for watermelon growth.
Despite the small size of the watermelons (weighing around one kilogram and with a diameter of 13 cm), the significance of the achievement lies in demonstrating the possibility of cultivating crops in one of the harshest and most remote regions on Earth. The success of hand pollination, based on a video prepared at the Agrophysical Research Institute, highlights the ingenuity and resourcefulness of the polar explorers in overcoming the challenges of growing crops in an environment where natural pollinators like insects are absent.
This success marks the southernmost point on the globe where watermelons have been grown, surpassing previous efforts by South Korea’s Antarctic station. It also adds to the ongoing efforts by Russian Antarctic expeditions to explore the feasibility of cultivating various crops in extreme conditions. The ability to grow crops such as leafy greens, peppers, tomatoes, and now watermelons in Antarctica could have significant implications for future long-term space missions or regions on Earth with challenging agricultural conditions.
Continuing these experiments and the upcoming efforts to cultivate wild berries will undoubtedly contribute valuable insights to agricultural science and potentially pave the way for more sustainable food production methods in extreme environments.