DESERT – Low-Cost Water Desalination and Sensor Technology Compact Module

31
Mar

DESERT – Low-Cost Water Desalination and Sensor Technology Compact Module

The next decades a large percentage of the world population will live in areas with water scarcity and poor water quality due to climate change and increasing population pressure, thus agriculture will face the challenge of supplying the increasing demand for food resulting from the forecasted population growth rates. One strategy for maintaining or increasing productivity under resource scarcity is to make greater use of marginal quality lands and waters. Irrigated agriculture worldwide (2.7 times more productive than rainfed agriculture) will play a crucial role in the food production system as well as in the use of non-conventional water resources such as ground saline water (GSW) and treated municipal wastewater (TMW). In implementing such a strategy, key factors for sustainability are soil salinity and water quality. The main aim of DESERT project is to create an innovative concept as a smart system combining sustainable technology on water treatment and water quality sensors, tuned to the local situation (climate, water sources, cropping system, grower’s economic potential and regulatory conditions). In order to achieve this main aim, the following objectives will be implemented:
a) To integrate in a low-energy and high-efficiency compact module, two solar powered equipment (HidroNIC-Desal and HidroNIC-Fert) for desalination and fertigation on two representative Mediterranean countries (Spain and Italy);
b) To develop an innovative system (QUANTUM) adapted to the HidroNIC-Fert equipment, based on hardware with low-cost sensors for real-time water monitoring in order to optimize water and fertilizers application;
c) To monitor and evaluate the medium-term evolution of crop nutritional status, soil salinity, yield and fruit quality and safety, optimizing the water and fertilizers needs and the energy costs at farm level;
d) To evaluate the effect, in medium-term, of the evolution of the soil status by monitoring sensitive indicators of soil fertility and by computing synthetic indices of soil quality (SQIs).
e) To model the “value of irrigation water” by combining physical, biological and environmental factors to derive water-crop production functions (CWF).

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