September 2021, Responsive Drip Irrigation (RDI) began installation of the RDI system for a sweet corn trial for Alfafa Farms in Al Khatim, Abu Dhabi, where a 5-hectare area of unfarmed desert land was cleared of large rocks prior to the seeds being sown.
As a result, comparison to SDI, RDI was able to save more than 40% water, increase the average corn ear weight to a higher grade, weighing between 350 to 450 gm/ear. Crop yields increased from 1 or 2 ears/stalk to a minimum of 3 ears/stalk, overall increasing the crop yield by 120%, using 50% less fertilizer and without bringing in top soil prior to planting (which is typically required due to the poor quality of soil in the region). The 5 hectares were seeded in sections, so maturity and harvest are occurring at different intervals. After the sweet corn is harvested in a section, the stalks are cut and sold for green fodder for livestock.
Regenerative Farming practices are being utilized with the RDI system, so no tilling was performed, and the sections are being seeded again for another sweet corn harvest, which will be followed by beet root for a summer crop. This was only possible with GrowStream™ tube, RDI’s irrigation system with a visionary technology.
GrowStream™ is the world’s first and only irrigation system to ever interact directly with plant roots and their chemical signals, allowing the plant to self-regulate its own water delivery. The GrowStream™ tube is comprised of millions of micropores along its entire surface. The thermoplastic material combines hydrophobic and hydrophilic polymers to produce the system’s properties of retentivity and transitivity through the membrane.
This revolutionary method of delivering water and nutrients ensures a higher water-use efficiency than any other irrigation system.
THE PURPOSE OF RDI IS TO PROVIDE A SOLUTION THAT EASES THE WATER CRISIS, SOLVES PROBLEMS SUCH AS FOOD SECURITY, AND FOSTERS SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT. NOT ONLY FOR THE ENVIRONMENT, BUT ALSO FOR THE FOOD AND AGRICULTURE INDUSTRY, SETTLEMENTS IN REMOTE AREAS, AND FOR CITIES THAT HAVE FOCUSED THEIR ATTENTION ON INCREASING FOOD SECURITY WITHIN THEIR COUNTRY.
In response to different agricultural settings and farming structures and methods, RDI has been implemented in other applications including greenhouses, screenhouses, and orchards.
RDI has been installed in 25 vegetable greenhouses with a total area of 3.5 hectares in the UAE alone. The advantages of RDI’s plant-responsive system over traditional irrigation is being monitored and analyzed on these projects.
One of these studies is the Tomato Trial. The RDI system was installed in a greenhouse for 3500 tomato plants (seedlings in coco peat mix). 3 months after the transplantation, tomato greenhouse using the RDI system began harvesting 10 days earlier than the SDI greenhouse, while using 33% less water and 40% less fertilizer, while demonstrating an increased crop yield by 30%.
FOR ALL ITS EFFORTS, RDI WON THE 2021 INNOVATIVE CHALLENGE AWARD AT THE AIDEX GLOBAL HUMANITARIAN AID EVENT, IN BRUSSELS. THE AWARD WAS GIVEN TO RDI’S GROWSTREAM™ TECHNOLOGY FOR ITS INNOVATION AND ABILITY TO IMPACT SEVERAL OF THE 2030 SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT GOALS.