“The potential is huge”: Wine industry expert joins the growing AQUA4D team in Chile
What convinced you to start working with IST Group and Aqua4D technology?
In fact, I have known about AQUA4D for quite some time and always been interested in technologies and companies that see sustainable development as the key to progressing as a society. The fact that the technology is sustainable and generates real efficiencies in such important issues as water use motivated me to go for this job and get 100% involved.
What experience can you bring to this new role?
I believe the fact that I come from the commercial area of a company with worldwide sales (Cono Sur Winery) gives me the possibility to focus my contributions on the expansion of this technology. Using that experience to reach more producers, customers and partners so that more companies can join, generating an impact on their efficiencies and on a regional level.
What were your first impressions of Aqua4D’s technology?
The first thing was to try to understand – it is hard to imagine the effects that Aqua4D causes in the water, since we do not see the differences with the naked eye. We are talking about physical changes at a molecular level. However, when we understand how it works and study the experiences, cases and results, the impact it generates is remarkable.
Seeing that this type of technology is effective generates a paradigm change, where with fewer resources you can have better results.
What potential impact can AQUA4D have on your previous industry, the wine industry?
Coming from a winery where technology was one of its main pillars, where organic production was emphasized and the company was recognized for its innovation and sustainability, I see that the potential is huge, even if you are already immersed in a culture of innovation and efficiency. AQUA4D treats irrigation water, a transversal element in Chilean viticulture, where the demands for efficiency are increasing. We no longer have the availability and quality of water of years ago, the markets are increasingly competitive and the profitability per productive hectare is more and more relevant.
The impact is at all levels: Efficiencies, savings and quality improvements are generated in production issues. In specific problems (for example water scarcity or salinity problems) solutions are given that facilitate or enable production. In issues of market competition, a key differentiating tool is provided by the use of technologies recognized as sustainable. There are markets and retailers that are simply not working with companies that do not address sustainability issues and reward those that do.
What potential do you see for the Aqua4D system in Chile?
As in the case of the wine industry, in agriculture there are plenty of examples: we have whole areas with water stress levels or salinity problems that make the decision not to produce or to produce only a portion of the land, that has a huge cost. Just thinking that an investment of years was made to produce a much lower percentage than projected is very strong. However, Aqua4D’s outreach potential is much greater, we not only focus on problem solving, but also on the efficiencies we can achieve. In Chile we have a thriving agricultural industry, where more and more agreements are being made to export, such as citrus fruits to China this year or the cherry boom, etc. For any producer the possibility of being able to make a profit and ensure a better production with a system without maintenance and complementary to what they have been doing, is good news. The technology is there and we have to go out and show it.
On the other hand, we must not forget the potentials in the real estate industry, animal health and mining. Where we have not yet fully entered but the experiences in other countries are decisive. The potential is basically unlimited and we hope to be able to contribute in all industries where AQUA4D has an impact.
So clearly Aqua4D has a huge potential for water and salinity savings in Chile?
Yes, we have seen that these two aspects, which are related, are handled very well by AQUA4D regardless of the area and type of cultivation.
What are some of the results you have observed so far in Chile?
In specific areas such as the Coquimbo region, the results in salt management are impressive. Given the extreme water situation, deeper wells are made where the salinity of the water affects both the crops and the soil.
In general and across the board for most of our projects we have seen water savings starting at 15-20% in the first months.
We have seen something not very different in the VI Region with Kiwis, where orchards with salt problems had very low productivity and now the management and production possibilities are completely different.
In vineyards we have seen how in a situation with better quality water and soil, benefits are achieved in moisture retention, salt management, better root development and as a consequence higher yields, over 15%.
The clients are very satisfied with the results obtained, with the accompaniment we provide and the joint work of measurements and management recommendations to achieve the efficiencies.
Could you tell us something about HOW this technology leads to better water efficiency?
AQUA4D® is a 100% sustainable technology that is installed in the irrigation system generating physical changes in the treated water by sending very low frequency electromagnetic signals. As a result, it lowers the surface tension of the water and generates a better dissolution of the water, minerals and organic particles that come with the water.
This physical change translates into efficiencies in the use of this resource: generating better root development, greater moisture retention in the soil, better absorption of nutrients and in the leaching of unwanted salts, without the need for heavy irrigation. On the other hand, as the minerals and organic particles are better dissolved, it allows the uncovering of drippers and the irrigation system in general, reducing the populations of biofilm and algae as well as affecting the populations of nematodes. All this with measurable impacts on yields, calibers and qualities.
Now, this can be seen in each project because we follow up, with clear objectives, measurement protocols and periodically deliver reports with the results and management recommendations to maximize efficiencies. It is a job that requires the active participation of the producers.
How does the rest of 2020 look for you and AQUA4D in Chile?
Taking into account the pandemic situation we are in and the difficult scenario we are starting to see in Chile. The first thing is to be concerned and take action to prevent the pandemic from growing further. Having said that, as agriculture has to keep on operating, it is the main market for AQUA4D in Chile and the water shortage is a fact, we see that this year we are going to keep on growing in installations and projects (and also in Peru, where we have already started some very interesting projects). Perhaps we will see that the biggest investments are delayed a little, but as AQUA4D solves problems and generates efficiencies that affect both short and long term, we are confident that our contributions, in an industry that continues to operate, are more than necessary and producers value them. We see a 2020 with many possibilities of growth and new projects.
José Tomás Gillet, thank you!
Jose on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/josé-tomás-gillet-infante-31373442
AQUA4D Chile / IST Group: https://aqua4d-irrigation.com/Locations/ist-group-aqua-4d-chile/