A hopeful project is being launched in the UAE which, if successful, will set an example far beyond the immediate region: The conversion of dry land into fertile soil. Initiator is Norwegian agri-tech expert, Desert Control, that has set up an office in Dubai, and is expanding into Abu Dhabi. Its agent for the soil enhancement is Liquid Natural Clay (LNC), sprayed by drones on the surface of arid land.
The company’s plans to turn arid land into fertile soil were unveiled after Desert Control had successfully raised approximately AED85 million in its initial public offering (IPO) on Euronext
Growth Oslo, a multilateral trading facility operated by the Oslo Stock Exchange. Thanks to this fund injection, the first projects can now be realized. The results will highly likely attract
worldwide attention, given that every single year, on average, around 12 million hectares of fertile ground (an area more than twice the size of Denmark), are degraded and ultimately turned into
deserts, hence lost as cultivable land. The desertification process is accelerated by an ominous combination of global warming, droughts, overgrazing, slash-and-burn farming, deforestation, and
other human activities, turning fertile ground into sandy soil, and rendering large areas unsuitable for agricultural use.
A rather bleak outlook were it not for innovators such as Desert Control, who hope that, thanks to their method of reviving dead soil, the degradation process can not only be stopped, but reversed.
Clay is an amazing natural material
Clay-containing soils are considered to be precious due to their versatile nutrient and mineral properties. They support plant growth by enriching the nutrient content of the soil. Additionally, clay minerals provide excellent water retention properties. Soil rich in clay can hold water volumes for much longer, which significantly reduces water consumption.
To accomplish the target, on behalf of Desert Control, liquid natural clay is loaded on board of drones which relieve their charge across arid areas that have been previously mapped by experts. By adding sprayed layers of clay to the sandy soil, humidity can be retained, enabling the regreening of arid land. This must be supported, at least during the initial fertilization phase, by water being sprayed by drones on the planted area, similar to former crop duster missions in parts of the USA.
Deserts come alive
Once a dry area has been converted to fertile earth, millions of tons of greenhouse gases can be absorbed by plants, food security enhanced, a pleasant microclimate is created, and deserts can be turned into farms, fostering new jobs and businesses.
Amazing results are expected
On the occasion of the project announcement in Dubai, CEO, Ole Kristian Sivertsen of Desert Control, stated: “LNC can significantly accelerate the food security strategy of the UAE and other regional countries. Enormous amounts of water are required to maintain green landscapes and forests across the nation. However, if we can shift 50% of this water to agriculture and food production, the results will be amazing. Further, by transforming desert into arable land that sequesters carbon and promotes biodiversity, we address water scarcity, food security, and climate action at the same time.”
The type of drone that qualifies best for the upcoming mission and will be used to apply the NLC, was left open during the presentation.
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