Updated: Sep 1, 2021
Terraplus Solutions has officially launched its award-winning sustainable agritech irrigation system, known as T+, after highly successful trials on date palms in Dubai. If deployed across 20,000 farms in the UAE, which contain 20 to 40 million date palms, it is estimated it could save a trillion litres of water per year. This is equivalent to the annual water usage of five million people, approximately half the population of the UAE.
The results are independently verified and show that the T+ system saves between 40,000 to 50,000 litres of water per date palm per year, compared to traditional systems. Furthermore, the date palms actually produce a higher yield, better-quality fruits. In addition, the root zone area of each date palm has increased by around 40 to 50%, creating healthier roots and stronger trees.
On the occasion of the launch of the intelligent subsurface irrigation T+ system, Terraplus Solutions co-founder and Managing Partner, Patrick Stevens, said: “There is tremendous potential for the T+ system to help the UAE reduce its agricultural water consumption. The UAE is the fourth-largest producer of dates in the world and accounts for around 12% of global production, but date palms also require a lot of water. Through T+ we aim to help the UAE towards its Food and Water Security goals and save a trillion litres of water every year. It is simple to install for open-air agriculture without specialist teams and far more cost effective than building multi-billion dollar desalination plants.”
Commenting on the successful project and implementation at Al-Awir Date Farm in Dubai, Mr Mohamed Khalifa Bin Thaleth, Operations Director at Al-Nakhli Sector, shared the vision: “Al-Nakhli is committed to finding the most effective ways of preserving water across managed agricultural land, in line with the UAE’s Water Security strategy. Our work alongside Terraplus Solutions on date palms in Dubai, has proven that vast water savings can be achieved with the right technology and we can make steps to safeguard the UAE’s water resources for generations to come.”
Since April 2019, tests were conducted at Al-Awir Date Farm with collaboration and under the supervision of the Al-Nakhli Sector. In February 2020, Al-Nakhli Sector was awarded a generous cash prize by winning the Khalifa International Award for Date Palm and Agricultural Innovation under President His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan's patronage by using the T+ system.
Given that the UAE National Water Security Strategy 2036 aims to reduce total demand for water by 21 per cent, T+ could dramatically impact preserving precious water resources. This is highly necessary, as estimates from the Environment Agency Abu Dhabi suggest that the rate of groundwater extraction is 18 to 20 times the natural rate of recharge.
Agriculture accounts for a high percentage of the UAE’s annual water usage, with vast amounts lost through inefficient watering of crops. Traditionally, date palms are irrigated through flood irrigation using surface bubbler systems that drip water around the tree's base. These systems waste a lot of water through evaporation and percolation. The T+ system developed by Terraplus Solutions works differently. The specially designed porous tube sits under the soil's surface and provides water directly to the root zone, eliminating losses from evaporation and improving percolation.
Terraplus Solutions was co-founded by two Belgian entrepreneurs, Patrick Stevens and Nicolas Bruylants, in 2018. The team has expanded its research and finessed the T+ system to be highly efficient, easily installed, and low-cost. In fact, the system takes just two months to pay back the initial cost of installation. The development progress also included expanding the lifespan of the system to 10 or more years.
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