ENERGY GLOBE
Chile

WINNER:
AQUA4D®?

With the Project:
Reducing Water, Energy and Emissions in agricultural food production

Agriculture accounts for 70% of water withdrawal globally and represents one of the biggest sustainability challenges. Meanwhile, soil health and lands are degrading at unprecedented rates. This project’s technology simultaneously addresses both these issues while also hitting up to 11 Sustainable Development Goals. In improving water management, better resource efficiency is enabled as well as increased water allocation for people, communities and landscapes. And by solving problems related to soil salinity and saline water, a long-term solution can be forged for regenerating lands in semi-arid regions such as Peru, California, and North Africa. Furthermore, in reducing water use, this technology reduces power consumption and emissions associated with pumping and desalination, with 3,000 times less electricity consumed compared to technologies such as reverse osmosis.

INITIAL SITUATION

Across the world, agricultural cultivation is facing a variety of issues, including: water scarcity, soil salinization, over-use of fertilizers, emissions associated with irrigation pumping, and land degradation. AQUA4D has proven its efficacy in helping ameliorate each of these issues. Water scarcity impacts upon several Sustainable Development Goals, so improving the water efficiency of agriculture has an impact not only on the plants and farmers but on the communities around them. Furthermore, negating the use of chemicals in water treatment ensures these chemicals stay out of the water cycle, aquifers, soils and land – it is a concept of circular water efficiency.

SOLUTION

AQUA4D is active with over 4,000 projects in over 40 countries, with several projects concentrated in semi-arid regions (e.g., South America, California, North Africa, Central Asia) or countries with water quality and soil degradation issues (e.g., France, Spain, Brazil). Many countries, such as Peru, fit into both these categories. Its technology has its origins in sustainably maintaining water systems in buildings – a process which often requires the use of chemicals. Over the last decade, the implementation of technology in agriculture has become the most important area in its implementation around the world. Reduction of water use in agriculture is of paramount importance to wider sustainability, and this is simultaneously the company’s biggest challenge and focus. At the same time, by improving fertilizer efficiency (through more effective dissolving), the use of fertilizers can be reduced by up to 30% - saving not only the chemicals involved but also the emissions associated with fertilizer production and application. And in turn, in a circular way, less chemicals then end up in the water cycle and the soil.

INNOVATION

Instead of solving problems with chemicals, a new paradigm of sustainable water management is entailed - improving water penetration in soil in order to enable an average of 30% irrigation savings. This would in turn mean 30% less water withdrawals – precious resources which can then be used elsewhere. What’s more, with the huge amount of energy used in irrigation pumping, better efficiency can drastically reduce power consumption and emissions associated with irrigated agriculture. By acting upon the minerals contained within water, this technology simultaneously improves fertilizer efficiency and leaches away salts. With salts no longer gathering on soil surfaces or harming plant growth, soil health and its biological life is dramatically improved. It is the only technology on the market which solves salinity while using less water in the process – and enabling continued irrigation with saline water. Lastly, by treating water completely sustainably, chemicals associated with excess fertilizer use or the removal of biofilm or clogging do not end up in the water cycle. The lifecycle of water systems is increased, degraded land is restored, and precious resources are saved for reallocation where they are most needed.

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