Professor Guillermo Donoso, one of Chile’s leading experts in water resource economics in the agricultural industry, will kick off a stellar line-up of speakers at the upcoming Agricultural Water Summit in September.
The distinguished speaker will provide the seminar’s attendees with his perspective on two major topics that he says are crucial for the Chilean agricultural industry to address in order to manage the severe water crisis and set itself on a path for a more sustainable future.
The Agricultural Water Summit is a pioneering, first-of-its-kind event that will take place in the South American country on Sept. 7 in San Francisco de Mostazal. The event will include simultaneous translation into English.
Coming at a critical time for the global agricultural industry as it continues to battle the water crisis, the event will see an array of experts and thought leaders from Chile and the rest of the world give essential information on how the hugely challenging situation can be overcome, discussing real-world examples, innovation and technology, farming management strategies, among many other topics.
Importantly, the Agricultural Water Summit will bring together not only the Chilean agricultural industry but also academics, government representatives, and other key figures involved in the country’s water resource management. In the same place for the first time, this meeting will foster the multi-sectoral collaboration and information sharing that has until now been lacking in the country.
Donoso holds a PhD in Agricultural and Resource Economics from the University of Maryland, College Park, and he is currently a Professor of Water Economics at the Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile. He has researched water governance and allocation mechanisms with an emphasis on water markets for more than 20 years, and has worked as a consultant for the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the Inter-American Development Bank (IADB), and the World Bank in projects for Latin America.
In his opening presentation at the Agricultural Water Summit, he will address two key topics of the water crisis in Chile, while also carrying out a comparative analysis of real-world examples of other countries that have faced and successfully overcome similar issues, such as Australia, France and Israel.
In a preview of his presentation, Donoso told FreshFruitPortal.com: “One of the topics has to do with the weakness of water management in Chile, both at the central level and at the local level with user organizations.”
He said that while there are some very good examples, there are also many areas where there are no user organizations for groundwater, and there is a lack of user organizations to manage.
“The second message has to do with drought management, pointing to the need to migrate more towards risk management and strengthening all preparedness actions, because today the emphasis has been mainly on mitigating the impacts,” he said.
“There are initiatives at the level of agricultural water management, in Minagri [the Chilean Ministry of Agriculture] to improve preparedness and to provide good information. And that is an example of what should be strengthened and its implementation increased to have a more effective drought risk management.”
For a country to make the right decisions on water regulation and management, it is necessary to have an integrated, public and transparent information system. One that considers hydrological information from surface and underground sources, water quality, data on established and recognized usage rights (DAA), their transfers and transmissions as well as prices among other factors, he said.
Under these circumstances, it is increasingly unusual and unsustainable that Chile still lacks a national water information system that is complete, up-to-date, and with simple and open access for all. A system that contains information on our water resources and that is the basis for regulatory, planning, management and administrative decisions within this sector.
Donoso also plans to address the topic of reform in Chile and will show projections of what can be expected from the ‘mega-drought’ in the country in the future.
“We have to recognize that the drought is a reality and we have to manage water to face this situation,” he said.
“The serious water situation in the country cannot continue to be made invisible. This is not a looming crisis, as some have argued; this drought is a structural reality, part of the “new normal” of water resources in Chile, and we must address it as such.”
Agricultural Water Summit will help to fill the information deficit
Speaking on the importance of the Agricultural Water Summit, Donoso said that the lack of information on water resources means that it is “essential” to have events like this that bring together all water users, including farmers, academics and those in charge of management.
“There is information available, but it does not reach all users. Therefore, an event like this that brings together researchers with users and at the management decision-making level, is critical to be able to standardize the understanding of where the problems are, the relevance of the problems faced by users, and to be able to transfer knowledge in both directions,” he said.
“It is a very important event that I believe was missing at the national level. In general, the events are either users, or management decision-makers, or researchers, and rarely all the relevant actors come together to discuss the subject together.”
For tickets, booths, sponsorship opportunities and more information, please visit www.agwatersummit.com, or write to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Date of publication: 26 May 2021
The water crisis affecting Chile and the rest of the world has had a severe impact on the agricultural industry, creating an urgent need for solutions and reinvention.
The drought Chile has been experiencing for more than a decade has been extremely challenging. A deficit in infrastructure has stretched from the central regions to the northern regions, hitting most of the country’s key agricultural production regions.
“There is a deficit in water infrastructure from the O’Higgins region to the north, and this deficit might extend this season or the next to the Maule, Ñuble and Bio Bio regions if the drought conditions don’t change,” said Felipe Martín, CEO of consultancy firm MAS Recursos Naturales, who will be a moderator in the inaugural Agricultural Water Summit taking place in Chile on August 26.
According to Martín, Chile has not made the necessary investments to face the current situation in a good position, unlike Australia, the U.S. and Israel.
According to Martín, Chile has not made the necessary investments to face the current situation in a good position, unlike Australia, the U.S. and Israel.
“Those countries have invested in infrastructure related to storage, distribution and generation of new sources of water, monitored from far away with real-time systems,” he said.
This, he explained, “allows seasons to be better managed, with monthly flows and requirements per area”.
“They were forced to create a reservoir network, a distribution system throughout this network, systems to artificially recharge underground aquifers, and desalination systems throughout the coast – all of this allows organizations to manage water resources in the best way possible,” he said.
He urged Chile to follow the examples of these other countries, which experienced similar situations many years ago.
According to Martin, during the severe 10-year drought that Australia had, “it automated all water distribution systems nationwide, using automatic gates and telemetry, in addition to creating a nationwide reservoir system”.
Meanwhile, Israel has constructed an aqueduct throughout the country for the use of water. “In the same way, it has a second aqueduct for reuse water, in addition to recharging underground aquifers with treated and desalinated water,” he said.
“In thesame way, it has a second pipe for reuse water, in addition to infiltrating treated and desalinated water to refill its underground aquifers”.
California and Arizona, on the other hand, have aqueducts of thousands of kilometers to transfer water from north to south of the states, with recharge systems to fill the underground aquifers, he said.
“These investments were made several decades ago. Chile, in that sense, is half a century behind,” he said.
Without this infrastructure, and without monitoring and control systems for water resources, management becomes very precarious, Martín said.
For this reason, “it’s essential that a significant percentage of the resources of the Ministry of Public Works’ infrastructure fund are used for water if we want to overcome the problem and become a developed country in the short-term,” he said.
Martin explained that although it is not easy to make decisions in the face of slowly worsening situations, the situation has worsened significantly and action must be taken. In 10 years, the country has gone from managing a large amount of water to managing very small amounts in more than half of the country’s regions, he said.
“If we do not become aware of this, and do not take charge of the problem, we might have very serious problems in the very short-term,” he said.
“Hopefully, the Agricultural Water Summit will raise awareness that we all have to do something. The small efforts added together will allow us to make a great collective effort,” he commented.
Agricultural Water Summit
The Agricultural Water Summit will be a meeting point not only for the agricultural industry and related entities in Chile but also for international experts who will come together to share their experience with using innovative techniques and farm management styles to limit the impacts of drought on horticultural operations.
Fostering multisectoral cooperation through both public and private organizations in order to bring about new and meaningful responses to the water crisis is another imperative of the event.
Key topics to be discussed during the day include new technologies and innovations for more efficient use of water, research on the water requirements of specific horticultural crops and varieties, interbasin transfer, alternatives to improve the distribution of resources, and the current situation of the water crisis both in Chilean agricultural regions and around the world.
“This event will allow experts and authorities to learn about the real needs of farmers and irrigators in our country, focusing on the different high-risk areas and the measures that have not been implemented,” Martín said.
Publication date: April 23, 2020
Chile is facing one of the most prolonged droughts in its history. The amount of rainfall in the country has been in decline, which has made the water crisis a major problem for the agricultural industry.
The Chilean Ministry of Agriculture, Antonio Walker, has emphasized the importance of tackling this problem and has assured that “without water, there is no country”, as this precious resource is essential for food production.
Experts say that once the country has overcome the Covid-19 pandemic, the water crisis will be the next major challenge.
In that regard, the Israeli Ambassador to Chile, Marina Rosenberg, has highlighted the importance of individuals working together to make a difference in order to overcome the challenge, stressing that “water is vital for agriculture and forms the basis of our diet”.
The following interview has been translated from Spanish.
What are the geographical and climatic conditions in Israel that create water shortage problems in the country?
Israel is a country with very low rainfall, with almost none in the far south of the country where the Negev Desert is, and in the north there is around 250 milliliters annually. In addition, we have one single source of freshwater – the Kinneret Lake, or the Sea of Galilea. In summary, we’re talking about an area that is 60% desert and with limited aquifers.
Broadly speaking, how has the country been able to develop its agricultural industry and overcome the water shortage over the years?
Since the birth of the State of Israel in 1948, one of the main challenges has been self-sufficiency, as the geopolitical situation has made trade with nearby countries very difficult. Therefore, the plans for agricultural development and water management have also formed part of public policies. Water is vital for agriculture and forms the basis of our diet.
What are the main techniques or solutions that have been used to meet the demand for water?
Israel’s strategy to face the water challenges can be resumed as “centralized and multi-focused”. In other words, we have a national authority in charge of water that coordinates all the actors and areas of focus, including production, prices, demand, incentives, technologies, legislation, etcetera. And on the ground, we can say that Israel’s success in this regard has been based on concepts like water saving, reuse, and new sources of production.
Does the Water Authority also have a role in finding new sources of water?
The Water Authority has a very important role in the long-term strategic planning of the country’s future needs in terms of human consumption, agricultural production, emerging industrialization, and other needs that could arise.
With this estimate, it can identify the sources of water – where the water comes from – and also the destinations – where it will go. There is an important link between origin and destination. For example, reused water is generally used for agriculture and irrigation.
In Israel, desalinated water is provided for human consumption and specific industrial processes. This planning allows costs to be managed for treated and quality water for consumption and energy use, and also to precisely plan the future tenders in plant materials and treatment technologies so that neither human consumption nor agriculture is affected.
The Israeli example for Chile
Could these solutions you mentioned be implemented in Chile?
Of course. In terms of saving water, Israel was a pioneer in the development and use of drip irrigation, which is now widely used around the world and present on many Chilean farms.
As for the reuse of water, Israel, through its treatment plants, treats and reuses almost 90% of the municipal water, and in Chile undoubtedly this experience can be duplicated, reusing water that is already treated in the different regions.
Lastly, on the subject of production of new sources of water, in Israel this has been done using desalination, generating more than 60% of the country’s potable water, which without doubt demonstrates that Chile could find an answer to its problems with this technique.
In any case, as well as the technified irrigation, desalination and reuse, there are other technologies that reduce the amount of water lost in transportation – amongst other areas -, satellite technology for leak management, which has helped Israel to have less than 10% loss – a very low figure in comparison to other countries, but one that can still be improved upon.
How well do you think Chile is facing the water shortage?
We have seen that the authorities have a great interest in tackling this topic in-depth, which has translated into numerous invitations to Israeli experts and consultants in the development of private projects between the countries, in academic cooperation, and in the creation of memorandums of understanding to tackle this challenge.
How important is it for a country to be conscious about the management of water, its use and reuse?
It is vital to be able to support decisions that will involve public policies and finances. And, on the other side, the sum of individual actions can make a difference. In Israel, for example, it is unthinkable for a child to brush their teeth with the water running, or for someone to wash their car with a hose in the street. And this is because of the education on the saving of water is very strong for all citizens and companies too.
In what way could people be made more conscious about the use of water in Chile, taking into account examples from Israel?
I believe that during this 10-year drought, a new consciousness has been created. And obviously it’s important to invest in education and public campaigns. In fact, through bilateral cooperation, a few months ago Israel handed over to Chile a campaign called “Israel is drying up”, which was adapted and implemented locally for television by the Ministry of Public Works. Additionally, we are promoting cooperation in this area with different national and regional institutions.
Do you plan to become involved with the water problems in Chile, providing advice based on your experience?
We like the idea of cooperating and sharing, more than giving advice. While Israel resolved the issue of water some time ago – due to the fact that it always had a shortage – Chile is working very well, and the coordination of efforts between the government, lawmakers, universities, and private entities will surely provide positive results in the short-term.
Agricultural Water Summit
Rosenberg will participate in the upcoming Agricultural Water Summit, the first event that will tackle the water crisis that the agricultural industry is facing in Chile and the rest world today. The event will take place in San Francisco de Mostazal on April 20, 2021.
During the day, numerous leading experts from around the will analyze the current situation with water and will provide solutions, drawing on successful experiences in other countries and highlighting the role of innovation and technology for the management and preservation of water in agriculture.
Rosenberg said that the space that the Agricultural Water Summit creates will facilitate essential discussions between different actors related to water regarding the impact that the drought is having on the industry.
“This event also serves the important purpose of bringing the different water resource management technologies into the Chilean ecosystem, linking together the different challenges that the country is currently facing, and sharing the experience that has been gathering in countries like Israel,” she said.
Publication date: June 9, 2020
Aqua4D says there is “huge potential” to improve water sustainability in drought-ridden Chile – one of the world’s biggest fruit exporters – using innovative technologies.
The Switzerland-based company, whose solutions allow water to be saved even in high salinity conditions, says that the South American country has some of the most critical conditions regarding water in the world and urgently needs to incorporate new methods and systems to be more efficient.
Speaking ahead of the inaugural Agricultural Water Summit – which will take place in Chile later this year and where Aqua4D will be exhibiting – marketing director Javier Meyer explained how the organization’s “ground-breaking” technology can provide huge benefits to growers.
“Water management is a fundamental aspect in the daily life of the agricultural sector, where each step in the production chain increasingly requires more efficiency,” he said.
“In this sense, I believe that the implementation of smart technologies is an important and necessary step, and a big part of the attention should be on being more efficient in water management.
“We must break old paradigms and learn to do things the right way, to save our natural resources, heal the damage caused by the bad practices and excessive use of chemical products, and improve yields and productivity in a sustainable way.”
Meyer says Aqua4D’s technology allows growers to do just that.
“Our technology treats the water without changing its chemistry. We just subtly change the molecular structure of the water – not adding or taking away anything – but the impact on the soil and the crops is huge,” he said.
“The originality of Aqua4D is that it is a clean technology free of chemicals and with very low energy consumption, to solve some of the main problems in agriculture in a sustainable way.”
Solving salinity issues with less water
Aqua4D started out focused on solutions for farming in saline conditions – historically a common issue in agriculture that is often caused by droughts or excessive use of fertilizers or other chemicals.
Their modular water-smart technology works by dissolving minerals and organic matter into the irrigation water, which minimizes crystallization around the plant roots while also improving water retention in the soil or substrate.
The process also helps to avoid clogging in pipes and leads to more homogenous irrigation.
“The plant can grow well even being irrigated by saline water or in high salinity soil conditions – that’s huge,” Meyer said.
“Something else that is very important is that usually the recommendation for high saline conditions is to wash the soils with more water, which is not really sustainable.
“But by dissolving the salt crystals, they simply leach away in the water, so we don’t need to do the washing process. This is something that’s very unique to us – we’re solving the salinity issues, but at the same time we’re saving water in the process.”
Many Aqua4D customers are those looking to solve salinity-related problems, but increasingly the company is receiving a lot of interest from growers all around the world who are simply looking to be more sustainable by optimizing their irrigation process.
By improving soil conditions and irrigation efficiency, Meyer says that growers can reduce their water use on average 30%, and sometimes even more, like recent cases in Spain.
“We’re bringing sustainability and corporate social responsibility to growers and to companies because they are growing with less water and less chemicals, using only what they need. We are basically going to turn your overall irrigation systems into something more efficient and help you to move into precision irrigation at the very highest level,” he said.
The company is already well established in European countries like France and the Netherlands, and currently it has a special focus in arid and semi-arid areas such as California, Chile, Africa and Central Asia.
In these places, a shortage of water – apart from the known problems of salts and soil health – generates a high demand for innovative technology.
Huge potential in Chile
Aqua4D expanded into Chile last year with the support of IST Group. It has an increasing number of projects on various crops, and has seen “excellent results” regarding water saving and reducing soil salinity.
“It’s an interesting mix in Chile, because you have some of the most critical conditions regarding water in the world – it’s a super dry area – and at the same time you have a high level of fruit production and exports. So, they need to find solutions,” he said.
“We’re just starting there, but the potential is huge. So we’re putting a lot of effort into Chile, and that is one of the reasons why we wanted to take part in the Agricultural Water Summit.”
These kinds of events that give special attention to water, he explained, are “very necessary” in the industry.
“The Agricultural Water Summit is an excellent platform, backed by a company with several successful events. The idea for us is to present, both to farmers and companies as well as to government entities and organizations, how Aqua4D can contribute as well as collaborate with other smart technologies in this great challenge of our times.
“Although this challenge has a special impact in Chile, it is everyone’s responsibility – on a global scale.”
The Agricultural Water Summit will take place on April 20, 2021, in the Hotel Sun Monticello Conference Center in San Francisco de Mostazal, close to the capital Santiago.
Publication date: June 18th, 2020
As farmers know, when operating under drought conditions it’s important that appropriate measures are taken to maximize yields. Producers should therefore always have an effective irrigation system that allows for, at the very least, a base-level of technical standards to ensure that their crops survive.
In Chile, this is especially important as the country has experienced ten years of drought. Since 2010, rainfall has decreased by about 30% between the Coquimbo northern and southern La Araucanía regions. This is a big challenge for the country’s agricultural industry.
One way to cope with the water shortage is by using technology that helps farmers become more efficient in creating irrigation systems.
Olivos – a Chilean company that specializes in the development of tech solutions for irrigation – told FreshFruitPortal.com about new developments that could advance the agriculture industry in its efforts to confront the crisis.
It says that the most critical challenge is inefficiency. A big problem the company identified is that “currently when you come to monitor a field, there are inefficiencies in irrigation systems ranging from 10% to 40%, either by higher or lower nominal flow”.
These inefficiencies come from wear on the irrigation equipment over time. This could be a result of the poor quality of the irrigation system in general or a lack of maintenance.
“This means that a producer may be making an irrigation time decision based on measurements that are external to the system itself – such as evapotranspiration or culture coefficients (Kc). But in practice, if your team is watering, for example, 20% more water than it should be, according to the irrigation design, it means that it’s incorporating 20% more water that will likely not even be used productively for the plant,” explained Olivos.
“Along with the physical problems that come with over-irrigation, that is where the loss of water through infiltration is created. This is a recurring situation and especially common with old irrigation equipment,” the company emphasized.
New integrated systems to identify risk and water levels
As concerns emerge and the industry changes its approach to water scarcity, a new and important development is that irrigation operators and designers are now trained to identify faults through more strict measurements.
This allows farmers to solve failures or challenges more quickly. “That is where, as an irrigation company, we are also making sure that we make new training programs to offer to workers who operate the irrigation systems”, Olivos said.
“That way, by combining methods that take into consideration climate, plant and soil measurements, the producers can have an integrated management of irrigation.”
Likewise, from OLIVOS riego they emphasize that a company that designs and manufactures irrigation equipment must also worry about what happens after the installation of these.
That is to say, to measure certain parameters in order to assure the producer that there are no water losses due to malfunctioning or design.
“Oncethe client has this part figured out, he can confidently focus on defining his irrigation strategies and thus be more water efficient,” they explain.
Beyond just creating a system, how Olivos sees the future in its irrigation solutions
The company went on to emphasize that while it is dedicated to manufacturing reliable irrigation technology, it is also focusing efforts on what happens with the systems after installation. That involves measuring certain parameters to assure the grower that there is no water loss from malfunction or design.
“Once the customer has resolved this problem, they can safely focus on defining their irrigation strategies, making them more efficient,” explained Olivos.
Speaking to the specifics of its technology, the company explained the basics that farmers should use to make more efficient use of water. The use of a water meter that is connected to the internet, for example, provides the system the ability to quickly identify failures. Real-time applied irrigation through time-sensitive, internet-capable meters is crucial.
It also stressed the importance of climate monitoring tools – through weather stations – to determine what to expect from the crop during that period. Another critical tool is soil moisture sensors, an effective step to increase productivity and monitor water over time.
“The technologies that are currently available are flexible and modular, allowing them to adapt to the needs of each producer,” detailed Olivos.
Providing further insights into how to confront the water crisis, Olivos will be a part of the Agricultural Water Summit. The event is the first of its kind that will address such issues of water security on April 20, 2021, in San Francisco de Mostazal.
The event will bring together companies and actors across different countries that are dealing with droughts. By focusing on solutions, innovation and technology, the event will approach how to improve water management, preservation, and conservation.
Olivos said: “It is tremendously important for there to be events like this to show, discuss and analyze other realities” in agriculture.
“We must learn to live together through this to continue to produce in a sustainable way, and this can only be achieved when all industry actors – producers, suppliers, government entities, etc. – are involved in spaces like the Agricultural Water Summit.”
The company OLIVOS riego will participate in the Agricultural Water SummitThe first event to address the water challenge in Chile will take place on April 20, 2021, in San Francisco de Mostazal.
The event, which will bring together the experiences of other countries and companies in dealing with drought and water shortages, will also focus on solutions, innovation and technology for the management, preservation and reuse of water in agriculture.
In this regard, from OLIVOS riego they emphasize that “it is tremendously important that instances are generated to show, discuss and analyze other realities.
They add that “the scenario of water scarcity is a problem that, unfortunately, is here to stay and we must learn to live together and continue producing in a sustainable way; and this can only be achieved when all the actors in the industry (producers, suppliers, government bodies, etc.) are involved in spaces such as the Agricultural Water Summit”.
Publication date: July 1st, 2020
Post-harvest water use for cleaning and processing fruit and vegetables could be reduced by a half with a new treatment that doesn’t contain harmful chemicals.
U.S.-based Envirotech was the first company to patent a direct contact solution containing peracetic acid to disinfect produce.
With its new product Biofruit XF15, it has the vision of using less water to process fruit and hopes to eventually replace chlorine disinfectants entirely.
Envirotech’s José Vargas told FreshFruitPortal.com more about the solution, which it will be presenting at the company’s stand at the upcoming Agricultural Water Summit in Chile.
Vargas first explained the specifics of utilizing less water in the post-harvest process to make the entire agricultural process more sustainable.
“Generally, fruit that is exported goes through a washing process after it’s harvested. This washing is done in large tubs up to 50,000 liters of water, and the water is what disinfects the fruit,” he said.
This water, according to Vargas, is disposed of up to twice a day.
“We are talking thousands of cubic meters of water that has traditionally been mixed with chlorine to disinfect. That way, bacteria, fungi and pathogenic microorganisms in general are controlled.”
He added that because the water contains chlorine, it then has to be treated after being used in order to be disposed of properly.
“So, what we do is replace chlorine with Biofruit, which makes water last for at least four times longer. Which is to say, if you were to throw out the water in the middle of the day, now the water is going to last two to four more turns in that cycle. This efficiently controls bacteria, fungi and all pathogens,” he detailed.
This allows for a much more efficient use of a resource that is becoming increasingly scarce.
Chlorine disinfectant has no place in the organic market
Vargas explained that Biofruit was created as an alternative to chlorine, which, although it disinfects well, it is a contaminant. Not only does Biofruit make the post-harvest process more efficient, but it also adds to buyers’ sustainability credentials and adds value for consumers.
“In the past few years we have realized that our consumers in European countries and in North America, including in some Asian countries, are demanding that local processes are more environmentally friendly, that they have less of an impact on the earth and – because of that, in fact – many will recognize the value of products that use less water,” he said.
He added that the Chilean fruit industry has had to respond appropriately to that demand for more responsible usage of natural resources.
“This kind of solution is like a ring on your finger, because you can approach your client in Europe and say ‘look, we took out the chlorine, which is a harmful carcinogenic molecule that isn’t environmentally friendly and we replaced it with an organic product’,” Vargas explained.
For Biofruit producers, the organic market is where it gets most of its business, Varga said. Clients in the organic growing world were the first to see the advantages that the solution brings. And because of the high standards of the sector, this shows that disinfecting fruit through this method is up to the challenge, he said.
“Today we can proudly say that we have effective control over bacteria and pathogens that are very harmful without creating an impact on or change in the fruit itself,” Vargas said.
“It is still organic fruit – this solution doesn’t create any residue and decomposes naturally in carbon, hydrogen and oxygen.”
“Itis still organic fruit, it does not generate any kind of residue on the fruit; it always decomposes into organic products, into carbon, hydrogen and oxygen”.
Agricultural Water Summit
Regarding the upcoming Agricultural Water Summit – due to take place in Chile on April 20, 2021 – Vargas said that Envirotech has decided to participate in the event because of the opportunities that it provides.
“We believe that those who are coming to participate are the companies that are most interested in finding eco-sustainable alternatives, without sacrificing efficiency. And we think we could be a big support to the supply chain,” he added.
Vargas concluded by emphasizing that Envirotech’s end goal is to completely replace chlorine disinfectant processes with a more sustainable post-harvest process.
“And I am sure that the Agricultural Water Summit is going to help a lot in reaching that goal and spread that message.”
“And I’m sure the Agricultural Water Summit will help us a lot to spread this message.”
Publication date: July 8th, 2020
As countries advance in the development of public policies focused on efficient and sustainable water management, the associations that work on this issue are playing an increasingly important role.
In Chile, the Chilean Association of Irrigation and Drainage, Agryd, has been supporting agribusiness for 12 years in the implementation of good practices for the use of water and energy.
José Miguel Morán, the association’s General Manager, spoke with FreshFruitPortal.com about the role that the organization has in society and how it contributes to better practices at the national level.
Morán explained that Agryd started with 30 partners supporting the introduction of technologies and the good use of water transversally in agribusiness.
Currently in Chile there are 120 companies that are members of the association. As Morán says: “We are in practically all areas where the industry needs water,” he said.
Its main focus is “promoting the efficient use of water and energy, with an emphasis on protecting the environment and good professional and business practices”, he said.
The General Manager commented that they have been working alongside, and growing together with, the Chilean Irrigation Law.
“We have both put pressure on each other. The Law puts pressure on us because it gives us more resources, and the professionals join together in order to get more out of it and incorporate a greater number of farmers to this challenge – which is to use water in the best way, increasing the total area under technical irrigation,” he commented.
The role of associations
Along these lines, he stated that in highly developed countries like Spain or the U.S., they have institutions that have a comparable role to Agryd, but not in other South American countries. The organization is currently collaborating with Ecuador to create its own association, “just as Spain helped us.”
Morán pointed out that, being an eminently technical institution, it contributes by generating solutions to the problems that arise in Chile because of the water crisis, and more recently with climate change.
“Our role is to contribute and give an opinion when asked, as well as to contribute with our own proposals – technical opinions that are always related to solving a problem and proposing a solution,” he commented.
Adapting to the Chilean drought
In this context, he referred to the current problem of drought in Chile, stating that there are several perspectives from which it can be analyzed.
He explained that Chile has various types of climate and soil, which constitutes an advantage to face this type of scenario.
“It makes both our farmers and our professionals who serve these farmers much more prepared,” he said.
He stated that, although there is a serious impact on the availability of water in certain regions of the country, there is also an opportunity to adapt and innovate in these most affected sectors.
This of course involves an associated cost, which is particularly challenging for farmers, especially because there is a cultural issue involved.
“If you were a farmer and all your life you dedicated to livestock, and overnight your animals began to die because they had no water, it is very difficult to explain to that farmer who comes from a family of ranchers that he should not continue to rear livestock , in a region where agriculture changed,” he pointed out.
He commented that in these circumstances, the appropriate thing is to adapt to this new reality, taking his agricultural activity in a new direction. However, it is in implementing this change where challenge lies, and it is obviously not easy to face.
“But the pressure of reality is forcing us to make this process have to be faster and faster,” he said.
He added that “Chile today has several areas that have to be focused on, some that are easier and others that require a more solid presence of authority.”
However, he said “we are able to adapt to this new reality and we have the appropriate technology to make the necessary changes, modernizing our work in the field.”
Agricultural Water Summit
This is where spaces such as the Agricultural Water Summit that facilitate conversation come in, he said.
“Today the main consumer of water is agriculture and therefore the Agricultural Water Summit is vital,” Morán said.
The event focuses on the efficient use and management of water, bringing together all the associated actors in order to strengthen their knowledge.
“I think it is going to be an important event and that it will continue have many more editions,” he commented. “It is extremely necessary.”
Publication date: August 25, 2020
A company Chile has developed award-winning technology that can provide significant savings on water and energy consumption.
Hydroscada offers integrated solutions to large agricultural operations, allowing them to see in real-time exactly how much water is being used throughout their farms and facilities, and to make improvements and increased efficiencies where possible.
Company representatives say it has so far helped customers to optimize water consumption in their irrigation and well extraction systems.
It also offers companies the ability to measure energy consumption, thereby greater reducing the energy bills and making the operations more sustainable, achieving energy savings of up to 65.7%.
In addition, its Effective Extraction Monitoring System (MEE) solution for wells and open channels helps users to comply with new regulations being implemented in Chile that require reporting of water consumption amid a severe drought in much of the country.
Speaking with FreshFruitPortal.com ahead of the Agricultural Water Summit, the company’s Commercial Manager Arturo B. Valdés explained that Hydroscada had initially been focused on irrigation systems after it was created in 2002. But since then it has evolved significantly with the development of technologies that help Chilean companies face both high energy costs and the effects of climate change.
In 2017, Hydroscada won the Avonni National Innovation Prize, in the ‘Entel Digital Solutions’ category, for its ‘Water Rights online’ project. With it, energetically autonomous hardware and software can be used to measure flow rates and water levels.
“The award was for a water flow monitoring system, which allows the farmers to know how much water they are actually using, how much they are entitled to, and how much actually enters their fields,” Valdés said. “There the whole story behind Hydroscada came together – the Internet, a platform, and measurement.”
He explained that many farms lose huge quantities of water due to problems in their canals, for instance due to rocks obstructing the channel. On large farms with an expansive irrigation system, this can be especially problematic and difficult to monitor.
“This product is therefore very useful for farms that have a lot of irrigation canals, to be able to monitor them in real-time,” he said.
Since 2019, Hydroscada has been part of the ecosystem of telecoms company Entel Ocean to “massify and strengthen” the SGE remote monitoring technology. They have been working closely together since then, developing MEE systems for water in wells, to help companies comply with new regulations currently being implemented in 10 regions by the General Water Directorate (DGA).
Due to the severe drought being experiencing through Chile’s central and northern regions, the DGA is requiring that all farms and farming companies measure and regularly report exactly how much water they are using – a system that Valdes says many farms do not currently have.
He says that digitization will allow agriculture to be empowered to increase its productivity while complying with the DGA regulations. The solution offered by Hydroscada and Entel Ocean ensures connectivity and reports, in addition to including alarms and real-time data as a management tool, to achieve efficient use of water.
The company has also been installing its MEE systems on the farms of major Chilean agricultural companies and vineyards.
An integrated, value-added solution
Aside from its almost two decades of expertise, one of Hydroscala’s unique selling points is its offering of an integrated, value-added system, as well as its experience across many areas. Unlike many other companies, it covers the measuring of both energy and water consumption across a farm’s entire operations.
“We are a little bit like the primary care doctor for the agricultural industry,” said Amparo Dominguez, Head of Innovation and Marketing at Hydroscada.
“Nowadays there are lots of technological solutions, and what Hydroscada does is bring them together through alliances in an integrated solution.”
Tackling the water crisis in Chile
Asked what they believe is necessary for Chile to do in order to overcome the water crisis, which is already crippling parts of the agricultural sector, the Hydroscada representatives said that it is essential to monitor water consumption and know exactly how much everyone is using.
“In that sense, I think that what the DGA is doing is the right thing, and it’s what must be done,” said Valdes.
“The first thing that has to be done in any shortage is measure. Measure how much is being used, know if you have a right to use it, and confirm if you’re using it efficiently. That’s the first step in all this, and it’s what the DGA started doing last year. Now it’s beginning to carry out inspections.”
He also explained that although Chile has been under drought conditions for many years, a lot of farmers are beginning initiatives to look after water.
“There are improvements that can be done very easily and very quickly that allow you to save water,” he said.
Dominguez added that the industry is facing a scenario in which it must produce more food as the population grows but with a more efficient use of water.
“Crises such as this are an opportunity to grow and readapt,” she said, highlighting the need to not just save but also reuse water – such as gray water, the majority of which goes to the sea.
It is important to learn from other countries and regions that have been successful in developing and implementing technologies to save and reuse water too, she said, such as Israel, Australia and California.
“We’re not talking about reinventing the wheel, but bringing technology that has been proven to work elsewhere,” she said.
Public-private partnerships will also be essential to overcome the major challenges, with all stakeholders working together to find and implement solutions.
“In Chile there is lots of innovation and lots of talent, but we also need to see how other more developed countries have overcome these challenges, and that is why we want to be in the Agricultural Water Summit,” she said. “We have invested a lot in innovation and developing technologies, and we are consolidated, so we want to contribute with these proven solutions and massify them.”
Publication date: September 10, 2020
Water management has always been present in the history of the Netherlands. A nation that has a lot of experience in modernization in horticulture and that, through its ambassador, Harman Idema, is collaborating to tackle the drought in Chile.
Idema indicates that an important reason for the success that his country has in water management is the “golden triangle”. In this model, the public, private and knowledge sectors work together to find the best solutions. Therefore, collaboration on this issue is essential for the ambassador.
In this context, one of the most important projects managed by the embassy of the Netherlands is GIRAgua, a project that precisely involves the various actors to carry out a comprehensive management of water resource.
Idema spoke with PortalFrutícola.com about GIRAgua, the reality of the Netherlands on this issue and how collaboration could be key to face the drought and the effects of climate change in Chile and around the world.
What is the GIRAgua project about?
It is a pilot with comprehensive water management, focused on how we can better capture and store water and use it when needed. Recharging underground aquifers is one of the key goals.
This comprehensive way of managing water is key to solving the challenges faced today. It requires a lot of collaboration between all affected parties. In this model, the public and private sectors and knowledge sector work together to find the best solutions. We are interested in sharing experiences with Chile because it could help to reach structural solutions.
Why did you decide to be part of this initiative and what benefits does it bring to Chile?
With the GIRAgua project we hope to implement solutions that help improve water availability. Together, with everyone involved, we are working on measures to manage water better, more efficiently and more effectively. This project deals with comprehensive water management based on good governance. Dutch knowledge of water is found in precisely these two areas, so this is an ideal project to use our knowledge and experience to contribute towards the solutions to the problems of drought in Chile.
Monitoring and modulation is very important to be able to distribute water to everyone involved at the right time in a fair way. This project and other pilots in other watersheds provide useful data to arrive at a national strategy on the management of all watersheds in Chile.
Due to droughts and the lack of water, farmers in the area have challenges on how to continue their activity. Furthermore, banks, due to lack of water availability, are no longer so willing to provide credit because there is no guarantee of availability of crops. Deeper wells are a very short term solution. It is better to find a structural solution: capture the water when there is a lot of it, store it in underground aquifers (using the same wells to inject the water), use it when needed and recycle it after it has been used.
In combination with new irrigation technologies, many advantages are acquired for the users (and the authorities) of the water: more availability, a more efficient and effective use, recycling and reuse and / or saving again, resulting in a lower consumption and greater availability. This helps farmers directly and indirectly, the rest of society and even authorities.
What is the importance of having efficient irrigation in greenhouses in a context of drought in Chile? What could be the Netherlands’s contribution?
Growing vegetables or fruits in greenhouses has two great benefits that can help Chilean agriculture. First, increasing production and second, lowering the use of irrigation water.
The Netherlands is very knowledgeable in the field of modernization of horticulture. There are several Dutch companies that are dedicated to exporting this horticultural knowledge around the world. They offer solutions for different climates and investment ranges (high-tech and mid-tech).
It starts off with a seed, which is adapted to grow hydroponically, construction of new greenhouses, even computers to improve the greenhouse climate. A combination of these tools is necessary to produce efficiently and adapted to the availability of water in the local climate. Return on investment can be guaranteed through higher returns and better product quality. In addition to this, the producer is less dependent on the weather.
How does good soil management also help mitigate the consequences of climate change? What experience does the Netherlands have in this and how could Chile replicate it?
With good soil management, it can not only adapt to climate change, but the environmental impact can also be mitigated. For these two processes (adaptation, mitigation) a ‘living’ soil is needed. That is, a soil with a lot of organic material and microorganisms. If a soil has these two characteristics, it can capture Co2 to mitigate climate change and at the same time adapt to extreme climates. With good soil management, more water can be held for longer during extreme rains or droughts.
The Dutch university, Wageningen University & Research, is experimenting with new academic theories at the Farm of the Future which opened this year in the Netherlands. This farm, for example, has green barriers, areas of the field that have permanent vegetation to promote biodiversity in the soil. In addition, they are planting in strips of different crops instead of a monoculture. In this way they want to prevent degraded soil and increase soil productivity in the long term. Academic ideas are tested in practice to prove their profitability for the agricultural sector.
Another way to mitigate the impact on the environment and turn emissions into something useful shows a cross-cutting project in the Rotterdam area. An underground pipeline carries CO2 from the refineries in the port of Rotterdam to these greenhouses. Plants need CO2 to grow, and they convert it into oxygen. The result is less emissions and more production. There are many ways that different sectors share their residual flows to benefit another sector.
One of the options that specialists recommend the most is water recycling. How would it benefit Chile if this practice became more popular?
Reusing domestic and industrial water is one of the options to lower the pressure on fresh water that exists in Chile.
Today there are new technologies to filter water at a low cost that can be used a second (or third) time. It is not only a solution for urban areas, but also works in rural areas where there is a shortage of water and there are conflicts over fresh water between mining, agriculture and drinking water.
Bluecon, a Dutch company, is entering the Chilean market with a compact and modular system for purifying wastewater. For example, it can treat domestic wastewater for up to 5,000 people and make it reusable for irrigation use. In principle, it is to optimize the water cycle for water users at the local level, then these users at the local level in many places in Chile can benefit from this system.
The situation in the Netherlands
What were the main challenges for the Netherlands in water management in the beginning?
Our first challenge is the fact that a third of our territory is below sea level, the deepest point is -6.8 meters. We dry these lands with the use of mills and dikes, winning the battle against the sea. Furthermore, we are a delta where several European rivers (Rijn, Maas etc.) end in the Nordic Sea.
Water management has always been present in the history of our country and we are used to talking about the “battle against water”. Now we know that you always lose the battle against water. So now we work (together) with water. Give the water the space it needs and take that into account when setting up the infrastructure. We are building with nature.
Our second challenge is that next to the coast, the water is salty, it cannot be used for irrigation nor as drinking water. The river water has already been used and has a degree of contamination. There is a lot of water available, but it is not always suitable for irrigation in our agricultural sector or for human consumption.
What are the challenges ahead and how are you working to solve them?
In recent years we have had increasing drought problems in the Netherlands. On the one hand, for the reasons mentioned above, the water that reaches the Netherlands is not always usable. Furthermore, climate change and drought are a global trend. Like the situation in Chile, the Netherlands had extremely dry years. In several regions, especially the south and east of the Netherlands, farmers were struggling because of the drought. This has consequences for the quality of our dams, which also dry out and are less resistant to water. Therefore, the drought also affects the quality of our protection against water.
Although the drought was not as extreme as in Chile, we also know that climate change is going to affect us all in the near future. One of the new Dutch solutions for livestock is climate adaptive drainage, a pipe system that adapts to extreme rains and dry times as well. It is an alternative to conventional irrigation and drainage. The multifunctional pipe serves as drainage in times of rain and reverse drainage (irrigation) in dry times. Because of this, the fields have less evaporation and the roots have direct access to water.
What is the structure of water governance in the Netherlands?
Due to the long Dutch history with water management, the governance structure is very different from the Chilean one. Dutch water boards (waterschappen in Dutch) are regional government bodies in charge of managing water barriers, waterways, water levels, water quality and wastewater treatment in their respective regions. These regional water authorities are among the oldest forms of local government in the Netherlands, some of which were founded in the 13th century. These water boards are external to other Dutch administrative structures.
Could Chile imitate the governance of the Netherlands in certain areas and improve this item?
What is important is the comprehensive management of water as a whole, that is, surface and groundwater. If there is anything that could be copied, it would be that. It is not so much copying the Netherlands, because at this point, it is already a good practice worldwide.
Now in Chile this is handled separately, and it is one of the reasons why recharging underground aquifers is difficult. In addition, the water in Chile in most cases belongs to “someone” (a company or person etc.). In the Netherlands it belongs to everyone and nobody at the same time. The “water government” as mentioned above, is responsible for the integral water management and decides what measures must be taken at the time of a problem to continue satisfying all those involved as much as possible or what usage to prioritize based on clear rules.
An example: the wastewater deposited in rivers belong to the farmers, only the wastewater, deposited in the sea, could be reused again by the sanitation services companies. Another example: recharging underground aquifers is complicated in Chile because there are no clear standards of the quality of the water to be injected.
In both examples, Chile could take a look at the Dutch experience. In the Netherlands they recharge underground aquifers of different types, which require different rules and policies. In addition, all wastewater flows back to the same sanitation companies for cleaning, reuse, or storage for the future.
Agricultural Water Summit
The Embassy of the Netherlands will take part of the Agricultural Water Summit, the first event that will comprehensively address the water crisis affecting Chile, and will be held on April 20, 2021, at the Sun Monticello Hotel Conference Center, located in San Francisco de Mostazal.
How important is it for you, as an embassy, ​​to participate in an event like the Agricultural Water Summit?
For our embassy in Chile, water and agriculture are priorities. They are topics where we have knowledge, technologies, and commercial interests. Furthermore, the Netherlands is the world’s second largest exporter of agricultural products. There is much to share with Chile, and we can, for example, cooperate with Chile in strengthening its capacity and quality of export of agricultural products to Asia. Of course, good management and efficient use of water is key in this.
The embassy always tries to connect the different actors in the sector. On this principle, we promote cooperation between the public (government), private (companies) and academic (universities) world. That is part of our vision on comprehensive management. Events like the Agricultural Water Summit bring these diverse actors to the table. For this reason, it is important to participate in the event since we are always ready to exchange ideas and experiences.
Why is it important that initiatives like these are carried out today?
It is a crucial moment for Chilean agriculture and initiatives such as these provide a platform to seek joint solutions. Chile has an extreme drought and it is very likely that it will be worse in the next 5 to 10 years.
If we don’t take proper action now, it will be too late. Not only Chilean agriculture, but the industry worldwide needs to take measures to be more efficient with fewer natural resources and mitigate its impact on the environment.
The increase in the world population and the growing demand for healthy food, combined with climate change, are a great challenge for the global agricultural sector. The agricultural sector plays an important role in achieving sustainable development goals related to water, hunger and food.
Publication date: October 1st, 2020
A virtual assistant developed in Chile can help farmers make their operations more efficient, including in the use of water.
“It’s like a doctor checking the performance of your body every five minutes,” according to Instacrops CEO Mario Bustamante.
Instacrops, through the Internet of Things (IoT), provides a set of technological solutions and services to help farmers produce food more efficiently, but with the necessary resources, amid the water crisis that is affecting many Latin American countries.
Bustamante said that the results obtained by Instacrops users in terms of water efficiency are very positive.
“An agricultural company we work with confirmed that after two seasons working with Instacrops they reduced the 47 annual irrigations they previously had to just 32 today. In other words, in two seasons the use of water fell by 32%,” he explained.
He also commented that efficient use and good management of water can lead to better sizes and quality of fruit production.
“Even if you have plenty of water, but you don’t manage it well, you won’t have a good harvest,” he said.
How Instacrops operates
Bustamante says that another benefit of Instacrops is that it delivers real and objective data.
“We can, through this application or virtual assistant that you can have on your smartphone, inform you about the millimeters of water that your plant consumed in certain hours,” he said.
“That, plus other parameters, allows you to define an irrigation strategy with a very high level of precision.”
This information can be updated every five minutes and viewed anywhere, so the farmer does not have to be in the field to monitor his crops.
“You will have information regarding irrigation, nutrition and fertilization in a single platform. That is why we say that it is a comprehensive virtual agricultural advisor,” he explained.
The information is collected by the equipment installed in the crops as well as high-resolution images captured by drones, field sensors, satellites, and intelligent irrigation controllers.
All the data captured by the equipment is processed by a powerful software in the cloud developed by Instacrops to later display objective and concrete information to any farmer profile.
Instacrops has its headquarters in Chile and has offices in Mexico and Colombia, with partners in several countries in the region.
Agricultural Water Summit
The company will participate in the inaugural Agricultural Water Summit, which will take place on April 20, 2021, in San Francisco de Mostazal, Chile.
Organized by Yentzen Group, the Agricultural Water Summit will be a meeting point not only for the agricultural industry and related entities in Chile but also for international experts, who will come together to share their experience with using innovative techniques and farm management styles to limit the impacts of drought on horticultural operations.
Speaking about the event, Bustamante said: “In the post-Covid-19 world we will have to be more conscientious about natural resources. The Agricultural Water Summit will be an event that will have a broad reach in Latin America and will in a transversal way address the drought and how best to manage water resources.”
Publication date: October 29, 2020
When we think of the future of agriculture, what often comes to mind is sustainability and being able to satisfy people’s needs with a minimal impact on the environment.
To achieve this, it is necessary to have people with an innovative profile. People who are close to technology and who have a desire to try new things, to be daring.
ECOI is a company looking to deliver sustainable solutions using solar energy. With more than 13 years of experience in non-conventional, renewable energy, they provide a service promoting energy efficiency to contribute to the fight against climate change.
The company will be part of the first edition of the Agricultural Water Summit, an event that seeks to be a meeting point within the agricultural industry. It will bring together world-class experts with the purpose of analyzing the water crisis in Chile and the rest of the world, as well as provide solutions, innovations, and technology for the management and preservation of water in agriculture.
In this context, Lautaro Moreno, general manager of ECOI, spoke about the ties that exist between energy efficiency and water efficiency, and how solar energy allows the costs of agricultural companies to be reduced so that resources can be redirected to other areas.
“We are a company dedicated to renewable energy and, in terms of fruit, we are dedicated to installing photovoltaic plants so that growers can save energy,” explained Moreno
He said: “All water efficiency systems end with the grower transferring those costs he had initially, for labor, to energy.”
“Our aim is that the grower pays the minimum”
Moreno also explained that as farmers become more technical, their energy costs increase. With solar energy, however, they can self-generate energy to maintain their operations.
He said ECOI provides financial guidance so that the payment of credit for the installation of a plant is like paying the electricity bill.
“We understand that with each day energy has greater importance in agriculture due to modernization in the field. So, this topic is increasingly relevant and for this reason, we offer a product that is going to be key in the future,” he said.
This is particularly true when one considers that each day consumers have a greater appreciation for fruits and vegetables that are produced with minimal environmental impact, he said.
Technology in Chile
The agricultural industry in Chile is characterized by its tradition and years of history. A product of these characteristics, though, is that growers were initially reluctant to adopt certain changes.
Moreno told us that when their product was offered five years ago, there was reticence on the part of the sector to utilize this type of technology.
He added that a lack of governmental law supporting this type of investment also contributed to the sense of reluctance.
However, the current scenario is different. Now, Moreno said, farmers are very receptive to this type of project.
He clarified that since they have managed to solve the financial challenge, they have been able to bring solar energy closer more easily.
In spite of this, due to solar energy not being cheap, Moreno did consider it necessary for there to be a country model that will permit technology to increase its expansion into the fields.
“In the end it is an industry development. Those of us who came first had to pay the initial cost, spending a lot of time and energy in trying to convince people,” he said.
In respect to the Agricultural Water Summit, Moreno commented that as energy efficiency and water efficiency go hand in hand, they are counting on the conference having many people focused on sustainability, people with innovative and technological profiles who are willing to dare to try new things.
Publication date: November 19, 2020
Precisely measuring water consumption and knowing how and when to irrigate are essential to developing efficient, sustainable, and highly productive farming operations, according to Chile-based LemSystem.
Speaking ahead of the Agricultural Water Summit, in which LemSystem will be participating, the company’s Commercial Manager David Berrios explained that not measuring water use is one of the most serious problems in Chile, much of which is being heavily affected by a protracted drought and water crisis.
In addition, he said that it’s crucial to understand that 70 percent of agricultural production depends on how the crops are irrigated, which makes it crucial to know how to monitor and control the use of water through sensors and software.
By doing this, growers can not only reduce costs and make their operations more efficient and sustainable, but they can also improve yields and therefore increase their income.
“We all agree that water is important, but almost no one measures it, and if they do, they measure badly,” Berrios said. “We think that it’s a serious problem.”
“It can make a huge difference in terms of the yields. And it’s important to note we’re not talking about irrigating more, but irrigating well. Apply exactly how much water the plant or tree needs, when it needs it,” he said.
“Plants are very sensitive to excess, and normally when people don’t have the right information, they just water in excess, which can negatively impact the plant and result in lower yields and quality.”
There are therefore important concepts to be understood for growers to make the necessary changes to make their farms more efficient, he added.
In order to know how and when to irrigate, it is of course important to be able to measure water consumption across all the farm through a network of sensors that can provide key information to the grower in real-time.
Modern-day technology, such as that offered by LemSystem, allows for a sophisticated and integrated telemetric system to be installed on the farm. This system can measure water levels and usage from the wells through all the irrigation canals and all other processes.
LemSystem has been operating in Chile for around a decade and counts many of the biggest fruit production companies among its customers. Berrios said there tends to be a stronger demand for its solution for high-value crops, such as avocados, blueberries, citrus, cherries, and walnuts.
“We have different lines of business to address the whole cycle of water on farms: monitoring the source of water in the deep wells; monitoring the plants, its soils and water needs; wireless valves across the whole farm to measure the water pressure, and centralized remote control of the whole system,” he said.
“All this allows us to accurately monitor and control the consumption and application of water across a whole farm, according to what is needed and when.”
Berrios explained that LemSystem’s solutions are based on two concepts – the Internet of Things (IoT), which allows all the various systems to communicate with each other and inform the grower in real-time of what’s happening, and artificial intelligence, which allows the system to make decisions independently based on the data it collects.
He said that crop productivity can be significantly improved just by irrigating correctly, with growers seeing on average a 10 percent increase in yields. In addition, growers can save up to around 30 percent on water consumption, lowering their costs, making them more sustainable, and allowing them to plant more.
Speaking about the water crisis that is severely impacting the Chilean agricultural industry, Berrios emphasized that what is lacking in the country is good water management.
“In Chile, there’s not really a shortage of water except for in some areas. Today, 84 percent of water is lost into the sea, and I think that a big part of the problem is that the water is badly managed,” he said.
“The country must invest more in the canals, and I’d say we’re 20 years being in off-farm irrigation – the water infrastructure.”
He said that in the northern region of Copiapo, which doesn’t have rivers, growers are well prepared for drought and are very good at managing water. But in the central region, where there has always been water, there is much less advanced management and poor coordination.
Publication date: November 26, 2020
Nanobubbles elevate oxygen concentration between 100 and 300 percent and distribute it in a uniform manner. This creates a direct impact on crop productivity, health, and resistance.
Oxygen is essential for the growth of living beings. However, in conventional irrigation systems, it is found in low concentrations which affect crop development. In this situation, nanobubble technology presents an innovative and sustainable solution for unlocking plants’ genetic potential and making efficient use of water.
Nanobubbles are extremely small gas particles (2500 times smaller than a grain of salt) capable of concentrating high levels of oxygen.
Benjamin Labbe, project and innovation manager for the Chilean company Kapicua, of the Laevo Group, said that, upon being injected in water, they raise oxygenation by between 100 and 300 percent. This generates a series of benefits that allow for more profitability from agriculture.
In plants, nanobubbles favor the transport and absorption of key nutrients such as potassium and calcium which are decisive in determining the flavor, caliber, and color of the fruit.
In the water, they improve quality naturally by reducing pathogens and eliminating algae and mineral deposits. In the ground, they both inhibit the development of anaerobic pathogens and promote beneficial microbiology. Additionally, compaction is reduced through improved water movement.
Case studies developed by Kapicua, in collaboration with public and private agricultural research centers, show a 14 percent increase in tomato productivity, an 18 percent increase in blueberry caliber, and up to a 25 percent reduction in water usage for lettuces. Additionally, there was a 66 percent decrease in Botrytis cinerea.
The company will be present at the Agricultural Water Summit Chile – 2021, during which it will demonstrate this technology’s advances and development. The event seeks to be a meeting point for the agricultural industry with the purpose of analyzing key topics associated with the country’s water situation as well as looking for innovative and sustainable solutions for preserving water in agriculture.
Tailored to the business
Nanobubbles have been used principally for water treatment within aquaculture and in hydroponic systems in the case of agriculture. Kapicua is a pioneer in implementing this technology in the irrigation of crops outside of greenhouses.
This year, the company signed an agreement with Moleaer, the world leader in nanobubble-generating equipment, to become the brand’s exclusive providers in Chile and Peru. In the months to come, they will also become present in Colombia and Ecuador.
“We are focused on offering our clients an integral solution. We have Moleaer equipment of varying sizes, models, and formats that we implement in accordance with the size of the project. We take care of improving the profitability of agriculture,” said Labbe.
This translates into field visits, the assembly of the project tailored to a specific business, and a process of accompaniment and consulting to ensure the optimal use of the nanobubbles
Publication date: December 3rd, 2020
When faced with a drought scenario like the one currently affecting Chile, adequate water conduction systems and efficient drainage applications are crucial to ensuring efficient water usage. The objective is to manage the resource for the benefit of both agriculture and people.
Hans Schwarzenberg, general manager of Petroflex, said that it is necessary to continue advancing in the implementation of technical irrigation so that available water can be optimized to the maximum. He explained that even though the country has made advances with governmental and private support, there is still a long road ahead.
With a history of more than 40 years, Petroflex offers solutions and a portfolio of top-quality products. Among these polyethylene pipes stand out, even for tubing irrigation canals, by allowing accurate and efficient transportation of water resources.
Schwarzenberg explained that these pipes are basic inputs for irrigation systems in agriculture. “We have registered a greater requirement, for which we had to adapt our production capacity to meet demand,” he said.
One of Petroflex’s main products is drainage applications which feature a unique, perforated design. These prevent obstructions in the majority of terrains, lengthening the usage life of projects implemented in the fields.
Petroflex will be present at the Agricultural Water Summit Chile – 2021 during which it will demonstrate its different lines of business with tubing, collectors, drainage, and hoses, destined for diverse industries such as agriculture, mining, fishing, forestry, and industry in general, to attend.
In these decades of experience, innovation has been a fundamental pillar for the company. The general manager explained the “We have a product committee that permits us to implement and develop different solutions, from a type of hose which meets specific requirements to looking for technology outside of Chile and bringing it back to contribute to our lines of business.
He added that one of the main characteristics Petroflex offers is that its products are easy for users to operate. Additionally, the company provides technical advice after purchases to assure correct installation and use, according to the solution sought by the client.
Publication date: December 17th, 2020
As climate change continues modifying water availability patterns it also causes a crisis of this invaluable resource.
The agricultural industry in Latin America and the world faces various challenges to increase efficient use of water resources in all areas and to provide solutions, innovation and technology for the management and preservation of water in agriculture.
To commemorate World Water Day, FreshFruitPortal.com spoke with sources in the agricultural sector around the world and asked them about the actions they take to combat the water crisis.
The following responses have been edited for clarity.
Marina Rosenberg, Israel’s Ambassador to Chile
The first thing to think about when looking at the water problem is to understand that water is a vital resource that is limited and must be protected on all levels, from education to public and regulatory policies.
The second is to articulate the different public, private and academic participants. What we do in Israel through the Israel Water Authority is coordinate who is responsible for the national water issues.
A third point is the actions aimed at saving or making efficient use of the available resource, and in Israel, this is achieved in two main ways. First through the efficient use of water in agricultural processes like drip irrigation, precision agriculture and artificial intelligence.
And second, through a refined treatment and recycling process, which currently allows more than 90 percent of the water to be reused, which is sent according to its treatment levels to agriculture, industry, municipal irrigation or aquifer recharge.
This is the generation of new sources of water, from cloud seeding to desalination. In Israel, the use of desalinated seawater already provides more than 60 percent of the water for human consumption, reaching one of the most competitive prices in the world.
“A mix between technology and ecology. The knowledge application and research to produce new water resources, to take care of those that exist and for sustainable management of the different processes that happen in the water cycle, from natural reservoirs to the ocean coasts.”
Gerbrand Jung, Agricultural Advisor at the Dutch Embassy in Chile
The Netherlands and Chile are working together in the field of water with the aim of exchanging scientific and administrative knowledge, sharing (concrete) short, medium and long-term solutions that lead to tackling the challenges that both countries have in this area. The Netherlands does this by offering innovative solutions based on the principle of integrated water management.
Store water – in the natural underground aquifers before it flushes into the ocean. Deltares is currently coordinating the execution of a pilot project in the Elqui basin to refill the aquifers in the region. This underground water can be used in times of drought.
Retain water – by improving soil management. By increasing organic matter in the soil or making space for permanent vegetation on farms the retention capacities of farmlands can be enhanced. A more technical solution is offered by Drainblock, a product to create sustainable water retention reservoirs by using foam blocks.
Reduce water footprint – by using the available irrigation water as efficiently as possible. Based on satellite data online platforms offer precise irrigation advice that can improve water efficiency. The Irriwatch platform combines digital data of water usage with production and evapotranspiration to optimize the water footprint on the farm level.
Reuse water – for a second or third time by optimizing the treatment of residual water flows. For example, Bluecon offers proven compact wastewater purifying units, in which domestic wastewater is transformed into irrigation water.
Leslie Sarná, General Manager of Irrigadora Cerro Prieto in Peru
Beyond differences of country or culture, there are general strategies to mitigate the impacts of climate change and ensure water is a fundamental right. From my perspective in the agriculture sector, I consider the following:
Reduction plans and improving efficiency: There must be a real commitment from water users to implement reducing actions that result in the water efficiency of productive and non-productive processes, improving the quality of used water and/or reusing it, optimizing the use of supplies and energy, etc.
Innovation, research and development: It is important to promote innovative processes from our institutions, companies and governments, as well as being fundamental to encourage solution development for these challenges.
Sowing and harvesting water: Proper management of rainwater allows the increase of retention, storage and regulation of water when rainfall is intense and then use of it in periods of drought.
Shared value: Efficiency measures will not be enough if you do not work together with the government, the company and the communities. Building a good relationship from the beginning, with social investment in the community that surrounds us, is a fundamental part of development.
Legality for the use of the resource: We must fight against the illegal use of water that prevents the resource from being managed in the most efficient way for all. There should be more supervision and severe penalties for illegal use.
Carolina Cruz, President of UVANOVA in Chile
Many years ago, at UVANOVA we decided to do a diagnosis and the first thing we did was to host seminars in all areas, though mainly focused in Aconcagua, the fourth region of Chile.
We invited engineering experts such as Gabriel Seguel and Raúl Ferreira among others who studied water in terms of irrigation.
Through the contribution of the UVANOVA advisors, we determined the critical areas, that is, where we could not go without water and also shed light on the products that coulse use the minimum amount of water, while still being feasible to produce table grapes.
Therefore we defined the minimum standards with which it was feasible to produce one hectare of table grapes. All that information (which is not always known and handled by the producers) we talked about in the discussion.
We reported on many strategies of incorporating technology based on lowering or optimizing water use. Then we created a protocol of water management in the face of water scarcity, which we distributed through different organizations such as SMA Chile.
Finally, together with UVANOVA advisors and irrigation experts, we created Water Balance, which consists of a platform so that the products were able to incorporate their data and know what their actual requirements were on the premises.
Mario Schindler, Executive Director of ANPROS
Sustainability: The seed industry is 100 percent commited to sustainability in all its processes, implementing new practices and using all available tools to comply with the global objectives established to reduce the effects of climate change.
Technology: Increasing water resource efficiency has an important basis in using the tools that exist for modernized irrigation. For a long time, a very high percentage of producers in the seed industry have used technical irrigation.
Training and information: Knowing about the available tools, using them correctly and making the most of them is essential for the adoption of new technologies to combat drought. In 2020, ANPROS made a series of webinars with the objective of managing water resources, the technological tools currently available and additional factors to consider for their maximum use were addressed.
Education: In the context of climate change, it is necessary to educate new agronomists from the beginning on the technologies, tools and processes available for the use of water resources. Whether with diplomas, technical workshops or other instruction, having the necessary knowledge to deal in practice with different situations that can be faced in periods of drought.
Selection of favorable agro-climatic zones: When thinking about production, it is important to select agro-climatic zones that are favorable to the type of crop that is going to be produced.
Felipe Martin, CEO of MAS Natural Resources
To combat drought, permanent and continuous work is required both to improve the water infrastructure and to manage the resources.
Regarding infrastructure, both superficial (reservoirs and micro-reservoirs) and underground stoarge (natural and artificial infiltration of aquifers), the conduction systems through lining or tubing and the telec-ontrol and telemetry systems for monitoring in real-time is essential. Therefore, we have three key axes: storage, distribution and monitoring/control of water resources.
Concerning management, administration by user organizations is key and therefore the strengthening of organizations is key.
Additionally, the regularization and improvement of water titles are essential information for user organizations and government authorities. In management, there are two strategic axes: strengthening of the OUA and the legal ordering of water titles.
Both infrastructure and management allow us, as a whole to make informed decisions according to a reality, where the strong effects of climate change cannot be ignored.
Publication date: 22 March 2021
Cristián Allendes Marín has been named as the new president of the National Society of Agriculture of Chile (SNA) for the period 2021 to 2023, and will take the place of Ricardo Ariztía de Castro.
Recaredo Ossa Balmaceda was elected as first vice president and Gastón Caminondo Vidal as second vice president, according to the SNA.
The other members of the society include: Diego Castro Portales, Carolina Cruz Vargas, José Antonio Galilea Vidaurre, Andrés Montero Jaramillo, Jorge Quiroz Castro and José Miguel Stegmeier Schmidlin.
The new directors will be representatives of Agrollanquihue, Fedeleche, Fedefruta and Vinos de Chile.
Allendes said that his focus will be on four topics including water sustainability, job standardization, agricultural and native forest sustainability and integration and agri-food potential.
“The current challenge of the SNA is to modernize agricultural thinking, to respond to times of accelerated changes in uncertain environments that characterize the entire world. WE must look up and respond to people’s current concerns, such as greater inclusion, active care for the environment, the generation for more and better jobs,” Allendes said.
He emphasized that there are other challenges the country faces that concern him such as agricultural security.
“In this regard, La Araucanía is the place that worries us the most due to the absence of a real rule of law. We trust that all authorities of all areas will come together to find a solution to a problem that has dragged on for decades and from which violent persons and drug trafficking are taking advantage,” Allendes said.
The new president said that there are many issues that the sector must face so from his position he will need solid support from those who make up the union.
A campaign to “attract new partners and organizations linked to agriculture with the goal of meeting the needs of our sector together” will be implemented.
Likewise, he requested support from the board of directors, the council and the 45 unions that make up the SNA during his tenure. “I hope to have the support of all of you, to help the fields of all food producers, their collaborators and the food chain to be better every day,” he said.
Various organizations have expressed their opinion of the newly appointed president including the Association of Nusery Workers of Chile AGV and the Federation of Fruit Producers of Chile (Fedefruta).
“From the Association of Nusery Workers of Chile AGV, we are very satisfied with the election of Cristián Allendes, and from now on we give him all our support and join the goals that he has set for his team leading while the National Society of Agriculture,” the President of Nusery Workers of Chile, Cristián Pichuante said.
“From our area we value that his plan has set agricultural and water sustainability as a priority, as well as the importance of integration and standardization.”
“We will join with enthusiasm to push for these things together,” he said.
The Nusery Workers of Chile highlighted Allendes’s agricultural experience, being a benchmark in terms of excellence and fruit innovation, as well as in his leadership career.
The general manager of the Nusery Workers of Chile said, “we are especially happy that Carolina Cruz has joined the board of directors, with whom we have been working with and cooperating closely for years.” “Carolina is a reference for women in the area with tremendous potential and leadership, which I am sure will be a great contribution, knowing how to impress her own view on agriculture.”
“As nusery workers, we are also proud because a great representative of our area was chosen as institutional director. We congratulate Jorge Valenzuela, a member of our board of directors, who in his role as president of Fedefruta will also participate on the board of directors of the SNA,” Pichuante said.
President of Fedefruta, Jorge Valenzuela said “we support Cristián Allendes and we join the effort to advance the priorities that he announced for his tenure, such as modernizing the sector in accordance with the era and current understandings and to be attentive to citizens’ concerns such as the environment, access to better jobs and the inclusion of the rural world and its people in sustainable development”.
“Cristián is the right person to take on these challenges, and we wish him every success in this endeavor that we believe will be key for Chilean agriculture.”
Publication date: 28 April 2021
Produce groups have welcomed California Governor Gavin Newsom’s expansion of the state’s emergency drought, but some have urge caution in its implementation.
Governor Newsom’s decision means that 39 California counties will be included as part of the April 21st emergency drought proclamation.
The California Fresh Fruit Association (CFFA) President Ian LeMay said: “The Sierra Nevada snowpack is at the second-worst levels since 2002 and [this] announcement is a step in the right direction to provide relief to California’s agricultural and rural communities.
“The state is the top producing agricultural region in the world, but it cannot continue to survive without a reliable water resource.” LeMay continued. “While drought is not an unfamiliar foe to Californians, it should be acknowledged that this will be the first drought in the era of the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA), with the circumstances intensified and the solutions more complex.
“It is the hope of the Association that today’s announcement is a step to address California’s short and long-term water resiliency.”
State of drought
With the drought proclamation expansion, 41 California counties are now under a state of emergency, which represents 30 percent of the state’s population. The state will invest $5.1 billion in water resiliency and infrastructure efforts.
These funds will provide conveyance flexibility for state water officials to expedite the review and processing of voluntary transfers of water right holders. CFFA looks forward to working on behalf of its membership to engage with state and federal officials to address California’s water needs.
Western Growers President & CEO Dave Puglia said that Governor Newsom “took a measured step in the right direction, but caution is needed in the implementation of this proclamation”.
“The declaration provides regulatory flexibility for water transfers to mitigate water shortages, and parallel executive action allocates $200 million to repair some damaged sections of key water delivery systems as proposed by Senator Hurtado’s Senate Bill 559.”
But he said the emergency authority granted to the State Water Board to curtail water deliveries should give all water users pause.
Water curtailments disproportionately impact rural and disadvantaged communities, he said. During the last drought from 2014-2016, regulatory restrictions on water deliveries resulted in the fallowing of half a million acres of productive San Joaquin Valley farmland and cost farms nearly $4 billion in economic activity he said.
“With many South-of-Delta farmers slated to receive between zero and five percent of their water allocations, 2021 is shaping up to be another catastrophic year for rural farming communities in the Valley,” he said.
“In implementing the Governor’s proclamation, we urge state water officials to lead with voluntary transfers and curtailments, giving our smart and capable public and private water agencies the space they need to maximize limited water supplies and achieve balance between the environmental and economic needs of the state.”
“Beyond the immediate crisis, state agencies must help mitigate the impacts of changing hydrology by removing the red tape that has long prevented meaningful investments in water storage infrastructure.”
Both infrastructure and management allow us, as a whole to make informed decisions according to a reality, where the strong effects of climate change cannot be ignored.
Date of publication: 13 May 2021