GRANADA – Known for its expansive olive groves and deep-rooted traditions, Andalucia is grappling with severe droughts that imperil both its harvests and the livelihoods of its farmers. However, a groundbreaking innovation may offer a way forward.
Scientists from the Department of Soil Science and Agricultural Chemistry at the University of Granada have developed a cutting-edge solution that clinched the Innovation and Sustainability Award this year. This invention allows farmers to optimise the use of rainwater and irrigation for tree and shrub crops.
The device, measuring 50 cm in length and 15 cm in diameter, is constructed from activated carbon. This allows it to retain water up to five times its weight. It functions akin to a sponge, bridging the external atmosphere with the plant roots, ensuring the optimal utilisation of water.
Before the introduction of this tool, water and nutrients were dispersed directly onto the soil. However, this often resulted in substantial losses due to evaporation. But, with the ‘Dispositivo Infiltrador’, water is channelled straight to the plant roots. Furthermore, the technology is now being marketed by Hidroinfiltrador S.L.
Cristóbal García, the chair of the San Rogelio de Íllora Cooperative and a board member of Dcoop, the world’s premier olive oil consortium, has incorporated 100 of these devices in his traditional olive orchards. He believes this innovation can offset the waning production, particularly given the intense drought the area is presently undergoing.
This breakthrough not only holds promise for addressing Granada’s drought concerns but could revolutionise irrigation methods for olive trees and various crops worldwide. For a comprehensive breakdown of the device’s operation, click here (article in Spanish).