Water takes farming to cutting edge

Technologies that will help farmers use less water, electricity and chemicals but help them to grow bigger and better produce were unveiled at the Agriculture Innovation Centre in Al Dhaid.
Vegetation grown in a test site at Agriculture Innovation Centre in Al Dhaid. Lee Hoagland / The National
Vegetation grown in a test site at Agriculture Innovation Centre in Al Dhaid. Lee Hoagland / The National

SHARJAH // Technologies that will help farmers use less water, electricity and chemicals but help them to grow bigger and better produce were unveiled at the Agriculture Innovation Centre in Al Dhaid.

The centre, officially opened on Wednesday by Dr Rashid bin Fahad, Minister of Environment and Water, was launched 18 months ago to develop and enhance techniques for greenhouse agriculture in the UAE and to pass these ideas on to farmers to improve their produce.

One of the tests involved passing water through cells made of precious metals and into growing tomatoes, said Rebecca Hodgson, managing director of Global Industry Solution.

“We divided a greenhouse into two parts, one uses normal water and in the other the water passed through cells and is monitored for impurities.”

The tomatoes given the treated water showed a big increase in the growth of seedlings.

“Using our method, the farmers will see more growth and less cost, they won’t have to clean the irrigation systems because the water is pure, it will use less water, energy and no chemicals,” said Ms Hodgson.

Another technique being studied is cooling greenhouses by absorbing water from the plants inside, instead of fans.

“It’s the most advance prototype of the next generation of greenhouses,” said Ad Spijkers, senior adviser from the food and agriculture organisation at the United Nations. “It uses very little water to keep the temperature, we use the condensation of the water to recycle it back into the system.”

More research is also being carried on the best ways to grow and harvest quinoa – a grain crop widely used in South America which is high in protein and fibre, can be consumed by humans and animals and can grow in hot and dry climates.

The ministry is planning to expand the cultivation area for quinoa to introduce farmers to its uses and benefits.

tzriqat@thenational.ae

Published: December 17, 2014 04:00 AM

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