How Aqua4D Enables Huge Water Savings Through Optimized Irrigation
We are in the midst of an unprecedented water crisis. South American regions are declaring an agricultural state of emergency, California’s wells are running dry, and countries from Belgium to Botswana are facing significant water stress. But there’s hope on the horizon: here’s how Aqua4D is helping farmers around the world save water and increase profits.
Doing more with less
Water access and supply is only one half of the problem – and often something which is out of the hands of ordinary growers. On an individual level, the key is in doing more with existing water through better efficiency. Simply put: if soils can stay moist for longer, water needs to be applied less frequently and in smaller amounts.
This is the irrigation optimization the Aqua4D system makes possible – by changing the structure of irrigation water itself. Subtly transforming the water can have huge knock-on effects on the soil, plants and hence on overall water efficiency.
Attached seamlessly to existing irrigation system, Aqua4D enables water to penetrate the deep pores of soil – resulting in moister soils for longer, as is being observed from Holland to California to Brazil.
How it works
The proprietary Swiss technology, first patented in the early 2000s, treats the water by rearranging the structure of the molecules within, thus reducing its surface tension:
How does this affect the soil and the plants? As the water molecule clusters are broken down into smaller components, the water can then infiltrate more easily into the minute pores of the soil. This results in better water retention (the plant can absorb it as and when it needs it, in the right quantities) and less evaporation, meaning less irrigation water is required.
The result? Sustainable irrigation and costs savings, as is today being experienced by growers in more than 40 countries.
Clisol is a large-scale greenhouse project in Almería, Spain, which featured in a BBC documentary about agricultural innovation. As part of a drive towards greater efficiency, they decided to install the Aqua4D system.
To keep track of progress, each day for 120 days the grower noted the tensiometer readings – indicating how much moisture remained in the ground after the last irrigation – on two adjacent plots, one treated by Aqua4D, and a control plot.
At the end of the study period, the grower was blown away: on average, the soil on the Aqua4D plot was 31% more moist, which then enabled them to make 20% water savings by less frequent irrigation. This is a perfect example of technological change and human change working hand-in-hand: measurement of soil moisture showed that less irrigation water needed to be applied. This saved precious resources in a water-scarce region – and reduced previously high water bills.
With these mind-blowing results in Spain and over 40 other countries, Californian almond producers have been taking note, and adopting the Aqua4D system in ever greater numbers. The results here have been nothing short of spectacular.
A Central Valley study was conducted at Turlock Fruit Company between February 2016 and August 2018, once again a comparative study of two side-by-side plots. Results showed significantly increased yields compared with the control – up 24% and 38% year on year – and final tensiometer results in August 2018 showed 31.5% more moisture in the soil (full results viewable here).
As Aqua4D co-founder Walter Thut said in a recent interview in California, this technology really is a game changer: double-digit water savings in water-scarce areas. With the FAO estimating that 40% of the world’s population is now affected by water scarcity, there has never been a greater need for an innovation which shifts irrigation across the world towards more efficient water use.