In recent years, this avocados have become synonymous with one country in particular: Chile. They’re often grown in arid and semi-arid areas, meaning that water scarcity and high salinity can be issues faced by growers. Now Chile’s Comite de Paltas Hass is seeking to transform the use of irrigation water using the latest innovations.

Various studies around the world have proven that AQUA4D’s proprietary technology facilitates growth in areas of high salinity, while also resulting in significant water savings in a variety of crops – of up to 30%. In water-intensive crops such as melons, this has proven to be a game-changer for increasing yields while saving precious water, as was the case for Agricola Famosa in Brazil. It’s all made possible by the way the AQUA4D system interacts with the irrigation water. Attached easily to the final stage of irrigation (see diagram here), a finely-calibrated electromagnetic signal subtly changes the structure of the water. The result? Better dissolution of both minerals and fertilizers within, meaning the plant can more effectively absorb what it needs while harmful ions are leached away below the root zone. Water savings then result from improved penetration and retention in the soil – whatever the type of soil. Water infiltrates more easily into the micro-pores, reinforcing root structure, and resulting in less loss of water by percolation.

The avocado tree is a peculiar one in that it likes well-drained soil but does not tolerate “wet feet” (gathering of too much water around the roots). Moreover, they’re particularly sensitive to salts yet are often grown in arid areas especially prone to salinization issues.

Having seen the AQUA4D as an effective solution for these problems in other crops, in 2017 a large avocado producer in Chincha, Peru decided to install a system and monitor the effects on their fruits over the following year. The results were beyond anything they could have imagined. The company was successfully growing Hass avocados over 300ha, yet was losing a significant amount of yields each harvest due to salinity issues. They decided to install an AQUA4D system and monitor comparative data on two adjacent plots with identical conditions – one irrigated with AQUA4D-treated water, and the other with normal water.

The salinity results showed, tellingly, less concentration of salts closer to the surface areas, and more concentration of salts in the deeper regions – exactly what would be expected from the leaching effect of the AQUA4D system. The salt crystals and minerals are better dissolved, the plant absorbs what it needs, while harmful ions are percolated below the active rhizosphere:

This leads not only to healthier plants – and healthier fruits – through the plant’s more efficient absorption and the fact that no extra leaching is required, resulting in water savings.

Monthly measurements of soil electroconductivity (EC) were taken at different levels. As the following graphs show, nearer the surface at a depth of 20cm the EC steadily decreased over time. Lower down, there was a steady increase of EC at 60cm depth on the plot treated by AQUA4D.

As expected, the salts were no longer accumulating near the root zone, but gathered instead at lower depths – out of harm’s way, thanks to the Aqua4D system’s improved natural leaching effect. Leaching of salts, less soil conductivity, and optimized level of nutrients resulted in a noteworthy increase in fruit quality and size. A field sampling of equal number of fruits for each plot showed the following data:

With an increase in weight and quality, subsequent financial calculations found that the avocado trees irrigated with water treated by the AQUA4D system yielded avocados of higher export quality, which would increase by 5% the total profits of the harvest – detailed data available here. AQUA4D’s Enrique Rebaza oversaw the study and remarked: “The AQUA4D system was able to improve the size and quality of the fruit with better returns and increased export quality as noted later one the total fruit from the plots was processed by the grower.” Having proven its efficacy in solving these salinity issues, saving water, and increasing export quality for avocado growers, in 2019 AQUA4D looks set to help more many growers in South, Central, and North America maximize their growing potential.

New avocado installation in Chile, mid-2020

AQUA4D Chile’s Felipe Villarino with Francisco Contardo from Comite de Paltas Hass de Chile AG