It’s 6am local time when we start our video call, but Jeff Nunes is already sat out in his garden. We speak amid a backdrop of haze from the recent forest fires. It seems an appropriate setting for discussing water innovation in California – a state suffering from drought and the very real effects of climate change – and how new agricultural technology can bring about a greener future, here and around the world.
Jeff, you’ve been in this industry for decades: what sort of impact have you seen agtech making?
The positive impact of technology in agriculture is bringing a precise measurement of what’s needed when it’s needed, and being able to reduce our use of resources, water, fertilizers, and manpower. We’re now able to isolate diseases before they spread, to treat deficiencies before harvest, and increase our food production.
The biggest problem we have here in the Central Valley (California) is access to water. There’s also far too much toxicity in our soils, with some bad elements. So it’s about creating a remediating process, using plants and treated water is important – we’ve got to start cleaning things up before we get better.
Can agriculture rise to the challenge of these unprecedented times?
I think agriculture has a key role to play in a green recovery, especially using technologies like blockchain and data from drone flights. These are very important tools that we need to consider to help make the right calls at the right time, make changes, and create a safe atmosphere for workers, to help bring in a new era.
Some have been farming for generations, but have been borrowing from a bank they didn’t know they were going to owe to: the very soils they are growing on. That’s why I’m very fortunate to be working with AQUA4D, because water is the most important thing right now – we have to start with the essence of life.
AQUA4D is helping growers overcome huge challenges, such as salinity here in California. What sets this technology apart from other such solutions?
So far only reverse osmosis has been able to resolve salinity, with negative side effects like waste water and high energy consumption. AQUA4D is a solution without any of these side effects, being able to treat greenhouses as well as distances of up to 2.5 miles length in orchards. That’s a huge differentiation.
Can you give some examples of the impacts you’ve seen?
AQUA4D can alleviate several problems, especially if the water source is saline. For example, a kiwi project we currently have has started with sodium chloride at 800 parts per million in the water source. So we already have an issue with salts, and then the heavy fertilization process has led to more salt in the soil.
All we did was treat the kiwis with AQUA4D technology for 3 weeks. We saw the salts go down in the rhizosphere, and we were actually able to bring the trees back to life. We had new growth within 14 days; before we put the unit in all the leaves were burning, they were suffering, and within 14 days we were able to see new growth and healthy tissue! So AQUA4D can help with the remediation of what’s in the water before it gets to the plants.
(This video gives an insight into this process at work) :