Urgent water management gaps in agriculture

Water Scarcity
The agricultural sector requires better water management. Photo: Unsplash.

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“There are still technological gaps in agricultural water management and there is important work to be done in that direction. We have developed different strategies for water consumption such as sensors in the plantations to know the percentage of humidity in plants. However, climate uncertainty becomes a challenge on how to become more sustainable in our production and lower water consumption”, says Fernando Banon Izu, production director of the global fruit producer SanLucar in Valencia in Spain.

He made his statement during the Rethinking Water event organised by the European Commission Food and engineering agency BioAzul. A group of 100 researchers, innovators, entrepreneurs, experts, and policymakers gathered together on the 2nd and 3rd of December at the event to discuss the most pressing challenges in Europe and major solutions for water scarcity. In March the European Environment Agency (EEA) stated reducing pressure of agriculture is key to improve the state of European waters. So solving water management gaps is urgent.

InnoWise Scale @Eit Water Scarcity
The fruit producing company SanLucar took part in the InnoWise Scale competition on Water Scarcity as problem holder of key challenges such as water availability and shortages; salinisation; crop water efficiency; and water savings. They worked together with six solution providers across Europe to tackle these issues and offer innovative solutions to the market. The competition is part of the InnoWise Program, a cross-sectoral activity in which several EIT Communities and partners have joined forces to face the real challenges around water scarcity.

The solutions
Secalflor manufacture and distribute plant pads made of 100% natural raw materials saving up to 50% and 30% of water and fertilizers needs, respectively. Tatiana Rodriguez, a co-founder of the company supported Ari Kambouris by stating: “Water is very expensive and very difficult to reach. We have potential risk for years of drought.” Through their solution product, they were able to lower irrigation up to 50% as well as reduce salinity up to 40%. “They provided a solution that was different than the others”, stated Andreas Chrysanthou, and because of it, they won the first prize in the competition.

The company SINAFIS is specialized in state-of-the-art technologies for agricultural water use. “There is not enough water and it is too expensive”, stated Ari Kambouris co-founder of SINAFIS. They proposed a plot-based, systemic approach to regenerative agriculture through monitoring and measuring crops by using sensors and applying an agro-ecological approach to lower water consumption. Their innovative idea won the second prize in the competition.

Industrial challenges
The InnoWise program brings together actors from the whole value chain for a holistic approach towards water scarcity. InnoWise Scale provides innovators with the opportunity to tailor their product and service offering to the real challenges faced by European industry, contributing to building a water-smart economy in the sectors of agriculture, utilities, and infrastructure.

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