Abu Dhabi, like many other nations, is concerned about food security, water scarcity, and climate change. They have focused their attention on AgTech innovations and began seeking out and supporting companies that are offering innovative solutions to these problems. In many desert areas, high salinity soil and ground water, create an untenable environment for crop production.
Many countries in this region depend upon farming from other countries, which requires that much of the food is imported, in order to feed the people living within the area. The RDI technology is working to restore this region into arable land that will be capable of feeding the population, while restoring the soil health and conserving water resources.
A 5-hectare sweet corn field trial, at Alfalfa Farms in Al Khatim, which was planted in the Fall of 2021 is demonstrating to farmers, agronomists, and environmental scientists that the desert can support crop production, offering an affordable solution for food security. In this field, after the large rocks had been raked, a tape injector implement was used to bury the RDI tubing underground. In January of this year, the first portion of this field trial was completed with major success. The RDI system reduced water and fertilizer consumption by more than 40%, while achieving more than 100% higher yields compared to standard drip irrigation.
The field produced 3-4 ears of high-grade sweet corn per every stalk. After being harvested, the stalks were cut and sold for green fodder for livestock. In an effort to implement regenerative farming practices, after the sweet corn was harvested, no soil tillage was performed. One section was reseeded for another crop of sweet corn and the remaining fields were seeded with beet root for the summer crop. The recently sown seeds have germinated and are demonstrating excellent growth and development.
Why regenerative farm techniques ?
The soil is full of organisms which are helpful for plants. Some convert soil nitrogen into a plant usable form, others conduct water or loosen and aerate the soil. With tillage, chemical fertilizers, herbicides, and pesticides, the living organisms are destroyed, and the soil becomes incapable of supporting sustainable crop production.
RDI’s GrowStream tube delivers water and fertilizer at an extremely low flow rate that targets the root zone of the plant. A significant reduction in fertilizer use has been seen with the RDI system. Without soil tilling, carbon emissions are reduced, and the organic plant material and microbial activity are maintained.