For many years, Dubai has experienced problems with accessing sufficient water supplies, particularly due to its desert type terrain. Constant access to clean, fresh water for people and businesses across the UAE is always high up on the government agendas. Water is a precious natural resource and everyone has a part to play in conserving its supplies.
One industry sector that is greatly affected by the very dry ground conditions is that of sustainable agriculture, which would account for the reason why the UAE imports an estimated 85% of their food supplies. In order to produce and provide their own food resources for the country and its residents, being able to successfully grow crops is a vital element. With very little rainfall, it’s of no surprise that businesses have resorted to the extensive use of irrigation systems. Miles of pipework transports vital water supplies to crops and plants across large plantations. There are various types of irrigation systems, including droplets of water that are released from a system installed above the crops, pipework which can be incorporated underground that releases water into the soil at set points in order to water the crops from the roots, or a spray type system, which is not ideal as due to the soaring temperatures the water often evaporates before it reaches the plants.
However, a type of farming being trialed in Dubai, which has been increasing in global popularity, with the largest being in New Jersey, is the activity of vertical farming, the principle being that plants are suspended in an indoor environment and aeroponic technology is utilised, which is where liquid nutrients and water are sprayed as a fine mist onto its hanging routes. This approach to farming not only removes the challenges faced by farmers of the lack of good quality soil and installing miles of irrigation systems, but also offers a healthier, more sustainable way of producing crops for the country, not only utilising unused warehouse space but also saving reducing the amount of water used.
However, this new way of farming is not cheap to set up and it will take many years for the majority of farmers to be able to utilise this approach. Therefore, they will have to continue using the old-fashioned irrigation systems, which is accompanied with its own set of problems.
Any water system bears the risk of leaks or other water usage problems. With regards to the irrigation systems, an above the ground operation can be inspected and maintained more easily than the underground installations. If you have a leak in an underground pipe it will be almost impossible to identify where the problem is. Given that they usually lay about 60cm under the ground’s surface, the prospect of digging up the whole system would be a huge and costly task.
An area being boggier than normal and with potential large puddles forming.
Animals or birds congregating around particular areas indicating access to a supply of water.
Are there areas of your crops or plants which look healthier than others, perhaps indicating that part of the water supply is insufficient due to a leak?
Have your water bills increased over a period of time? This can also indicate that water is leaking.