A version of this article originally appeared in Chile’s El Mercurio newspaper.
A Swiss innovation, brought to Chile by the privately-funded IST Group, has succeeded in reducing water consumption by an average of 30%, and reducing soil salinity by 40% for agricultural producers in both Chile and Peru. Exciting new projects with avocados, vineyards, and academic & institutional partnerships show this technology could play a big role in sustainable water use over the next years.
Water scarcity, soil salinity, and “doing more with less” are some of the biggest challenges of our time. These are precisely the issues AQUA4D® technology seeks to address with a radical new approach. Based on impressive results around the world since 2004, Chile’s IST Group is now rapidly rolling out the water-smart technology across Chile and Latin America. “We are committed to the efficiency and optimization of all processes that use water resources, across several industries,” says IST Director Felipe Villarino.
The technology works in the same way no matter its use cases: subtle physical changes to the water itself lead to a variety of positive effects including solving salinity in agriculture, cleaner water systems for buildings, and resource-friendly re-greening of urban areas. And all this is done without the use of chemicals or consumables, meaning an approach to water use which is sustainable in both the short- and long- term.
In Chilean agriculture, there have so far been some astonishing results. At William Cole winery in the Casa Blanca Valley, +22% water savings and a 28% reduction in electro conductivity (EC) were observed, resulting in yield increases of +15.8% Kg / Ha. “We recommend Aqua 4D to farmers who want to improve their quality and production, generating cost efficiency and with a sustainable technology,” says Martin Weinstein, GM at the winery.
AQUA4D® in Casa Blanca with solar power supply
The impressive results were replicated at San Osvaldo, a citrus producer in Coquimbo. Precise comparative measurements across 12 months showed a 37.4% reduction in EC compared to the control, as well as a 48.1% reduction of problematic chlorine in the soil.
All this has convinced increasing numbers of growers to adopt the technology, including big players like GESEX and Hortifrut. Additionally, landmark avocado projects began in September 2020, overseen by INACAP academics and supported by the Comité de Paltas de Chile. “As a guild we are committed to sustainable production and resource optimization,” says the Comité’s Executive Director, Francisco Contardo. “That’s why we decided to work together with IST Group and Aqua4D, to transfer state-of-the-art technology for water efficiency and management.”
With proven results around the world and solving several problems simultaneously, Switzerland’s AQUA4D® technology is well-placed to alleviate the resource challenges faced by Chile, and bring improved water efficiency to the cultivation of this most valuable fruit.
Video: Enrique Rebaza (Chief Agronomist) explains how AQUA4D® increases water efficiency and ‘growing more with less’: