Software could help to save up to 80 per cent of water used on UAE farmsThe UAE's farmers can now use new software that helps to plan crop plant...Software could help to save up to 80 per cent of water used on UAE farms
The UAE's farmers can now use new software that helps to plan crop planting and also calculate how much water their land will need over a year.
A study carried out over many years to trace the flow of sap in date palm trees showed that farmers are using nearly three times as much water than they need to irrigate their plants.
It found that farmers typically irrigate each tree with about 300 litres of water a day.
However, by measuring the amount of sap flowing in the trunk of a date palm, researchers found they could cut that to 180 litres a day during the summer, and to as little as 60 to 80 litres in winter. This would save up to 80 per cent of the water used on the country's farms.
We found that the amount of irrigation that was being applied was three times greater than what the date palm needed
Brent Clothier, principal scientist on the project
Part of a joint research project by the Environment Agency – Abu Dhabi and New Zealand Plant and Food Research, the experiments provided advice on how to balance the requirements of date farmers and the need to conserve water.
“Back in 2014, for the first time ever we were able to measure how much water, directly, a date palm tree used,” said Brent Clothier, principal scientist on the project.
“We found that the amount of irrigation that was being applied was three times greater than what the date palm needed.
“What we have done is put all of that knowledge into a software tool that now exists within the Environment Agency – Abu Dhabi so that it can allocate water more sustainably, not only to date palms but a whole range of crops here in the Emirates.”
The crop calculator software allows users to determine the best location and soil to grow certain crops, and the exact amount of water it needs throughout the year.
Understanding the sap flow within a date palm helps to determine the amount of water being consumed by a plant, as not all water used for irrigation is consumed by the tree.