SRTI drives importance of hydronics to boost food security in UAE

August 24, 2021 / 11:22 AM
Sharjah24: The UAE’s agriculture sector has developed by leaps and bounds in the last decade. To boost the country’s production, the Sharjah Research Technology and Innovation Park (SRTI Park) has been developing innovative technologies, including hydroponics, that will also help ensure food security in the region.
Hussain Al Mahmoudi, CEO of SRTI Park, said: “SRTI Park is a hub for researchers, entrepreneurs, start-ups and industry experts who develop solutions that can shape food food production not only in the UAE but also regionally and globally.

“We have been harnessing technology for agricultural production and food security. We develop hydroponics and located inside SRTI Park is Merlin Agrotunnel, an aquaponics farm (combination of raising fish and cultivating plants in tanks) with an area of around 150 square metres that can produce over one ton of organic vegetables and fruits every month,” he noted.

Better yield with less resources
Al Mahmoudi explained: “Hydroponics requires a rather large cost in the beginning but it significantly reduces the consumption of water – it saves about 70 per cent  of water – and use less or no fertilisers, which makes it perfect to grow food in a desert environment with less agricultural space and far less water resources.”

Aquaponics, meanwhile, is a form of agriculture that combines raising fish in tanks with soil-less plant culture (hydroponics). The nutrient-rich water from raising fish provides a natural fertiliser for the plants and the plants help to purify the water for the fish.
Indoor farming eliminates extreme outdoor temperatures and makes particular sense in our desert environment.  We use very little water – about 90 per cent less than conventional farming – and because it is aquaponics, we also produce fresh fish along with a range of vegetables and fruits.

The water that is used to irrigate the fruits and vegetables is seawater, desalinated through solar energy, thus completing the development of an integrated system ensuring sustainability of our natural resources.
Sustainable food in a land-scarce environment

Al Mahmoudi noted a team of botanists, agriculturists and engineers from Merlin International, has been conducting researches to develop a soil-free vertical cultivation (farming) technology that is the ideal way to produce sustainable food in a land scarce environment.

“This agricultural system at SRTI Park is one of the solutions to the problems of agriculture and food production. The agrotunnel can be combined into multiple units to create a commercial farm to provide fresh organic produce for multiple households daily. The agrotunnel can work in any environment and weather condition – even in the middle of the desert. We use advanced cooling technologies that can work on solar energy and can harvest water from sea or air,” he added.
August 24, 2021 / 11:22 AM

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