Coming from international roles with Irrigaronne and Linsday Corporation, Yvain Mirabal is embarking on a new challenge heading up the new Macro Irrigation business unit at AQUA4D. Here he explains what convinced him to make this change – and how AQUA4D’s new Macro Irrigation solution might be about to change the world…
Yvain, what convinced you to make the move to Aqua4D?
Before this, I worked for Lindsay, a very large company working with pivot and hose reel irrigation. But in 2019, I met the AQUA4D CTO (Charles-Henri Faure) in Montpellier, France and was very intrigued by this technology. It’s a big change to jump from a large to a small company, but it’s such an exciting opportunity. As a green technology, this was also an important factor. My wife asked me “are you sure you want to take this risk?” and I replied that I didn’t think it is actually a risk, and that it is something in line with my vision for the world, so it makes sense in many ways.
What were your first impressions of AQUA4D® technology?
At the start I was skeptical as the tech was something totally new to me. I have a very scientific mind, and with this technology you don’t see with the naked eye what is happening to the water. With RO (Reverse Osmosis), for example, you see what is happening. With AQUA4D, to the naked eye the water that comes out looks the same as what went in. When you see the results, it seems almost too good to be true – solving biofilm, saving water, solving clogging and salinity, it seems almost miraculous. But the more videos, articles and academic publications I saw about how AQUA4D works, this became more scientific and tangible to me.
Of course, I need to be convinced to be able to convince other people. And now I’m thoroughly convinced. The approach of AQUA4D unique: we are selling a solution not a product. We are trying to help a grower facing an issue, by implementing a solution rather than just implementing a product. Today I am convinced that this technology can solve issues for many many farmers around the world.
Installation in the Central Valley, California
You mentioned reverse osmosis (RO), what makes AQUA4D different from such desalination technologies?
For me, they are very different – with high-level filtration like RO, you are not only removing salt but all the nutrients within. So you get desalinated water, but then to give to plants you have to put things back in. It doesn’t make sense to take everything out to then put things back in with chemicals – it’s inefficient. With AQUA4D we are not removing anything, we are just changing the way the elements are linked together. By reorganizing the structure of the water we help the water to clean the salinity in the soil, to help the plants and roots more easily access the nutrients without facing salinity problems.
Economically for growers, Reverse Osmosis does not make sense at all – it is expensive and uses a huge amount of energy, and also produces waste and effluence. AQUA4D makes much more economic sense for growers. But it is still not widely known. So the biggest challenge we have is educating the community and the growers on what this tech can solve.
And lastly of course is the fact that AQUA4D addresses a range of different issues, not just salinity.
What were you doing before and how does it relate to AQUA4D?
My whole career has revolved around water: from a swimming scholarship, to water treatment, to irrigation management for agronomy. So this new role with AQUA4D is very much a natural development.
In my previous role at Lindsay, I was responsible for irrigation scheduling. Actually, growers know how to irrigate but most don’t know how to irrigate to improve crop development. Most of the time, growers over-irrigate by not knowing the real needs of the plant. In my previous role I was educating growers to help improve irrigation efficiency.
This is very applicable to AQUA4D: we will save many resources by implementing our solution and educating growers how to irrigate more efficiently.
Certain growers are always ready to try new technology. However, we can explain everything with fancy slides and graphics, but ultimately growers will trust other growers, so the best way to persuade and explain AQUA4D is by testimonials. And with AQUA4D’s various testimonials and success cases, this is very convincing.
Can you introduce briefly the AQUA4D H-D project?
AQUA4D has had great results for micro irrigation but has not yet entered the macro irrigation market or commodity crops. So they have developed a new technology for treating huge flow-rates and large crops with macro irrigation, implementing water treatment directly on central pivots. This system will bring the same benefits to soil and plants, on a huge scale.