Technology uses condensation and renewable energy to irrigate crops – ABC Rural

Mahanati 5 Days Box Office Collection
05/15/2018
Angioplasty and stenting are here to stay- The New Indian Express
05/15/2018

Technology uses condensation and renewable energy to irrigate crops – ABC Rural


A Perth-based company has developed an irrigation system to grow crops using just renewable energy and humidity from the air.

The system is called Irrigation By Condensation (IBC), and is the invention of Roots Sustainable Agricultural Technologies co-founder Boaz Wachtel.

Having lived in the Middle East, Mr Wachtel said he was aware of the constant struggle farmers faced with water scarcity.

“I was always interested in developing technologies and helping farmers, either poor or not, around the world, because I think people underestimate the difficulties farmers have,” he said.

“This allows individual farmers or communities to create a food cycle by using the humidity in the air.

“We’ve tested it on five crops — lettuce, spinach, tomatoes, cucumbers and wheat — and we were able to sustain the entire cycle of growth from planting to harvest.”

Simple concept, sophisticated science

While the science behind the technology is complicated, the concept is simple.

Think about the way water, or humidity, condenses on the outside of a cold pint of beer.

Roots’ IBC system works much the same way — minus the beer.

Chilled water, stored in an insulated water tank, is pumped through pipes throughout the crop.

That cold water condenses moisture in the air on the outside of these pipes, which drips onto the plants.

“We usually irrigate at night, because at night it is high humidity … even in the desert. During the day the solar power charges a small battery to circulate the cold water in the tank,” Mr Wachtel said.

“It irrigates plants with cold condensate, which reduces the evaporation during the day, therefore less water is needed to irrigate the plants as opposed to other irrigation systems.”

Mr Wachtel said the company planned to offer the system to small and medium-scale farmers within two years.

But he admitted that scaling the technology would take some time.

“It would have to be a modular build up,” Mr Wachtel said.

“As you extend the pipes to long distances, the water heats up. So, you need to have shorter runs.

“Eventually I think we will be able to offer this technology for large plantations.”

The proof of concept happened during a rainless summer and autumn at Roots’ experimental farm, Beit Halevy, in central Israel, 2017.

The IBC technology sustained the growth of lettuce, spinach, and tomatoes with only condensed moisture from the air, with no additional water used for irrigation from any water source.

Mr Wachtel said the results were relevant to farmers in arid regions of Australia, particularly Western Australia.

Near East irrigation in the West

CEO of VegetablesWA, John Shannon, said concepts that worked in Israel often worked well in WA.

“There are similarities between WA’s climate and the Israeli climate,” he said.

While it is an exciting technology, Mr Shannon said there may be limitations.

“Perhaps the limitation will be in delivering water overnight,” he said.

“Our crops need to have watering during the day to match the transpiration that’s going on in the plant. This system will probably need to be backed up with more conventional technologies.

“But I can see how it might have some good relevance in orchard situations where you’ve got deeper root systems, and the delivery of water overnight might be really useful.”

Mr Shannon said it was critical that Australia’s horticultural industry looked ahead to new technologies.

To put it in perspective, agriculture accounts for 70 per cent of about 16,000 giga-litres of water consumed in Australia each year.

Mr Shannon said water allocation was slowly being syphoned by urban expansion.

“We need to be helping growers implement systems where you might have soil monitors set up and aligned with irrigation,” he said.

“There’s also some other technology going on in the centre pivot space, where guys are looking at using variable rate irrigation systems.”

Quenching a thirsty world

From a global perspective, it is not looking much easier.

Agriculture accounts for 70 per cent of the consumption of all potable water in the world.

The global demand for water has been increasing at a rate of about 1 per cent per year as populations grow and economies develop.

This demand will continue to rise significantly over the next two decades, according to the 2018 UN World Water Development Report.

“Projected increases in global crop irrigation water requirements for 2050 to be somewhere between 23 per cent and 42 per cent above the level in 2010,” the report reads.

Mr Wachtel’s invention was inspired by his work at the Israeli Embassy in Washington, US, during the early 1990s.

“I started to study the effect of water scarcity on the political process and the peace process,” he said.

“It became apparent to me that I needed to find a decentralised solution for providing access to farmers [in Australia] and in the Middle East.”

While it is no silver bullet for drought-stricken farmers, Irrigation Australia CEO Bryan Ward said it was encouraging to see companies bring innovative technologies into the industry.

“There’s more research needed to find ways to improve irrigation efficiency. There’s no greater emphasis in our sector than on research and technology,” he said.

“We are the driest inhabited continent in the world. That gives added weight to the significance of it.”



Source link

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *