This article was originally published in France’s Hydralians magazine.
What would “virtuous irrigation” look like? This is the question we need to ask if we measure the direct effects on agricultural yields, water savings and maintenance, while promoting an eco-environmental approach. And the impacts are very broad because the subject of water savings alone is of interest to everyone: gardeners, landscape professionals, elected officials, horticulturists, consumers, breeders?
A recognized patented principle
Developed in 2004, AQUA4D® technology increases water penetration into soil and all growing media. The innovation of AQUA4D is based on the possibility of preserving the properties of the treated water in storage tanks and over long distances. Without changing the chemical structure of the water and without using chemicals, AQUA4D is environmentally friendly and brings the soil biology back to an almost natural state.
The cascading benefits of “AQUA4D® water”
This more homogeneous water infiltrates better into the soil and promotes root development. This is the beginning of the virtuous circle:
- Roots are hairier, increasing the capacity for water retention and infiltration in the micropores.
- The soil is better hydrated and stays moist longer with less water.
- Plants are healthier, directly benefitting the yields.
- Fertilizer efficiency is also boosted – thanks to a better dissolution in water, they are better distributed and more in contact with the roots.
- Better hydration facilitates the dissolution and leaching of salts in depth. Those that are not absorbed by the plant are thus transported under the rhizosphere.
AQUA4D, simple from the moment of installation
Setup is very easy, because AQUA4D comes down to just two key elements: Treatment Unit and Control Unit. With no constraints on flow or distance, AQUA4D works with any drip or sprinkler system. And on a daily basis it is automatic, maintenance-free, without consumables and with very low power consumption.
“With 2 hectares of covered greenhouses and 4,000 m2 of plantings, we are extremely vigilant about the quality of our products, more than 90% of which are sold directly. I am very sensitive to the bio-dynamic sphere, the PBI (integrated biological protection) to all the soft cultivation techniques allowing to stimulate the self-defense of the plant before disease, in order to reduce the use of phytosanitary products. It is the health of the plant that interests me and that made me take the step. This solution seemed coherent in my approach.”
Regarding the well-being of the plant: what is your feedback?
“Undeniably, on vegetable crops such as tomatoes, I notice that the root system is extraordinarily developed. It is whiter, more qualitative even at the end of the season. The plants perform well, diseases do not develop, yields are at the maximum. It is logical, it is necessary to understand that water has a certain tension, like dew. By modifying it with AQUA4D®, the water penetrates better into the soil, the fertilizers are more efficient, the plants are healthier and are less attacked by insects. This is the case with salads, I can’t fully explain it, but for the last 2 years I have noticed that they have no more aphids.”
What about clogging in horticulture?
“I have an old irrigation system that uses a lot of drippers. And as all professionals know, the major problem is the regular clogging of the drippers. This is always noticed too late when the plant withers and the system has to be changed during cultivation. With AQUA4D, I immediately saw the impact: a fortnight after installation, I noticed the elimination of 60 to 80% of the plugs. At first I was skeptical, but today my maintenance is almost zero. Of course, I’m satisfied to make substantial savings on maintenance in terms of equipment, labor and efficiency. On this single problem of clogging, whether curative or preventive, I have recouped my investment. But initially, and it is important to hear this, it is not the financial aspect that motivated me but that of a solution that complements my sustainable development approach.”
Why were you skeptical at first?
“With more than 1,000 m between the Treatment Unit and the furthest point, I was questioning the “long distance” effects. It’s clear that it works as well for the health of the plants as for the clogging of the drippers. And beyond that, I was amazed to verify that the water treated by AQUA4D keeps its performance even after storage in tanks or pipes. Do you see other perspectives? With 4,000 m2 of above-ground cultivation, our “block buster” is the strawberry. The secret to making it tasty is to pick it when it is ripe. That’s ideal, but strawberries are a very fragile fruit in handling and transport. To get around this problem, AQUA4D allows a better assimilation of nutrients. Strawberries are very sensitive to calcium: its good assimilation allows it to remain firm when ripe. This is an objective fact and with the right maturity one has a better flavor, but on this point, it is more subjective ‘it is the consumers who decide’.”
When there are similar results all over the world, why don’t more growers in France have this system?
“Like me at the beginning, there is first of all skepticism about a real innovation. As a result, this slows down investment. And then we try to verify and compare experiences. And then it gets more complicated. If I had to caricature, it might be linked to our traditional farmers’ mentality. In my case, it was a case of the technology, the positive sales experience, and the feedback from another farmer that finally convinced me.”
Would you do it all over again?
“Putting the plant back at the center of the fight is my motivation. Today, AQUA4D is an integral part of the balance of the farm. And tomorrow, if necessary, we buy another one right away! Nature is incredible, I think that plants have a form of intelligence with an extraordinary power of adaptation. If we can help them improve their health through gentle techniques, then we are on the right track.”