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"Dynamic Fertigation"

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Broadcast Date: Tuesday 25 July 2006, 12:15-12:30 GMT
Summary: Water and Fertiliser-Saving Irrigation Device

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 Synopsis

Research-TVAs the record-breaking heat wave and water shortages persist, most food growers can only dream of a water and fertilizer saving system that can be dialed up over a GSM network, responds to commercial five day weather reports and decides whether to turn itself on or not!

However it is now a reality! Researchers at the University of Warwick's plant research arm, Warwick HRI, have developed “Dynamic Fertigation” technology in response to growing water scarcity particularly in the UK. 

Water and fertilizer saving irrigation techniques called "fertigation" are widely used in Southern Europe. In "fertigation", feed pipes deliver water and nourishment to the plants themselves but mostly they are operated manually.

At Warwick HRI, researchers examined the existing "fertigation" techniques and have now built a system that uses sensors at the base of plants to detect the level of moisture in the soil and feed that back to a computer using a GSM phone link direct from the field. The control system then switches the water on when the soil dries below a set level.

The researchers took it a stage further by combining the soil moisture data with weather forecasts and the system was automated to the extent that it could make its own decisions on whether your plants needed watering!

Not only does this save precious water, it also stops fertiliser from being washed away by rainfall, which is not only cutting waste but has the added ecological benefit of stopping it from polluting waterways.

Early results show a 33% saving in fertiliser for lettuce and 50% for runner beans. With both economic and environmental benefits, this new high-tech method of “fertigation” will be of considerable interest not just in the UK but in regions of the world already using more primitive “fertigation” methods.

Footage:
- Fields of lettuce, courgettes and beans
- Fertigation technology
- GSM radio masts
- Researcher with laptop reading data
- Fertigation systems.
- Water Metering

Interview:
- Dr Jim Monaghan, Project Leader, Warwick HRI

 

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 General Information

ALL STORIES ARE AVAILABLE TO ALL APTN SUBSCRIBERS ON TUESDAY 25 JULY 12:15 TO 12:30 GMT. AVAILABLE FOR GENERAL VIEWING FROM 16:00 GMT ON TUESDAY 25 JULY. ALL SCRIPT INFORMATION AND VIDEO PREVIEWS ON WWW.RESEARCH-TV.COM FOR MORE INFORMATION CALL RESEARCH-TV ON: 44 (0) 207 004 7130.

Page contact: Tracy Playle Last revised: Wed 26 Jul 2006
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