Abu Dhabi farmers may be able to grow food with water pulled out of dense air. With just four days back up supply of water, and desalination projects usurping considerable energy, Abu Dhabi is facing down a variety of long-term challenges. Among them, how to sustain agriculture in the desert without using a ton of energy and water? The answer lies in exactly two things that make this Gulf nation virtually uninhabitable in the summer: persistently high humidity levels and relentless sunshine.
Hot n’ humid
The Emirate’s mean humidity level amounts to approximately 61% and maximum levels reach as high as 85%. While not ideal for playing football in the dead of summer, this humidity can be helpful in other ways.
The National reports that G-earth will extract condensation from this saturated air to provide water for Abu Dhabi greenhouses, while solar energy will be harvested to provide electricity.
In addition to reducing farmers’ dependency on costly energy and water, this initiative spearheaded by Abu Dhabi Farmers’ Services Center (FSC) may also have positive environmental ramifications.
Eschewing the grid
Not only are the fuels burned to render Abu Dhabi’s saltwater fit for consumption a major contributor to climate change, but the leftover brine is hazardous to the Gulf’s marine ecosystem. Meanwhile, many organic farms are using water from rapidly depleting aquifers in order to grow food. In partnership with Anexo Emirates, a Swiss consultancy group, FSC intends to make it easy for farmers to transcend current agricultural restraints.
The new technology will be geared towards hydroponic farming, where plants are grown in water instead of soil. Aldo Garbagnati, Anexo’s Chief Executive Officer, said that Abu Dhabi’s farmers will be able to grow rich food that has zero impact on energy and water.
Over the next twelve months, FSC will test the process, which will include opening a demonstration farm in Al Ghabia where farmers will be able to witness the cost and environmental benefits first hand.
This new development won’t necessarily slow the pace of land grabs, which schemes are treated as the panacea for sagging agriculture in various GCC countries, but it’s certainly a huge leap towards greater self-sufficiency.
:: The National
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