Roots unveils world-first off-the-grid system to grow crops without watering
Food & Agriculture
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Special report: Innovative agtech Roots has this week unveiled its world’s first Irrigation by Condensation system that works completely off the grid.
Powered by the sun or wind, the system is capable of growing and sustaining entire growth cycles of food – all without any water input, even in the middle of the desert.
The system was specifically designed to enable small and medium scale farmers to grow food crops irrigated only from humidity in the air and without access to grid electricity or irrigated water.
It builds on the successful proof of concept conducted late last year with electric power, which demonstrated the technical and agronomical ability to sustain the full growth cycle of several crops.
In its current stages, the system works best with high protein crops like beans and alfalfa – what will be on show at Israel’s leading agtech conference Agri-Tech Israel next week.
Inventor of the tech, and co-founder of Roots, Boaz Wachtel told the market the system would provide a more sustainable living for farmers, families and the communities in which they operate:
“Roots’ successful installation of the world’s first solar or wind-powered IBC system demonstrates a viable decentralised solution for many of the 500 million smallholder farmers who currently struggle with water for crop production.
“…It has the ability to play a tangible role in benefiting many of the 2 billion people across the world who depend on these smallholder farms for their livelihoods.”
He said the applications were not limited to small operations – but could be used to irrigate plantations, covered crops in greenhouses and any place where water scarcity is the limiting production factor.
The company (ASX:ROO) is initially seeking technology partners to make the off-grid system affordable to low-income farmers, as well as looking to collaborate with international and government institutions interested in marketing and/or subsidising the tech.
It hopes to have the first commercial version ready for sale by the end of the year.
How it works
Root’s Irrigation by Condensation tech chills and circulates a one-time fill up water tank in a closed cycle and creates a stand-alone system able to sustain entire growth cycles of food crops all year around.
And it is all powered by the sun or wind.
“Energy produced by solar panels or wind turbines is used to chill the one-time fill up water tank to below dew point in an insulated tank,” Dr Sharon Devir explained.
“A small flow pump then circulates this water in closed cycle in pipes laid near the plants in the field or greenhouse. This produces condensation on the external surface of the pipes that flow by gravitation to the soil and roots.”
It all depends on relative humidity, air temperature, pipe numbers and surface area and water temperature circulating in the pipes.
The farmer just makes a one-time purchase and the system operates autonomously after a single water tank fill at installation.
Dr Devir said the system could go so far as to assist forestation efforts.
“Roots’ IBC off-grid system could also assist forestation efforts to fight desertification by providing young trees with water during the early stages of growth, before their roots reach the depth that would allow them to survive the harsh arid environment.”
This special report is brought to you by Roots Sustainable Agricultural Technologies.
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