x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

Date trees prospering from irrigation

With 41 million date palms in the UAE and less than 100mm of rain annually, the trees are a major drain on the country¿s limited water supplies.

AL AIN // Another trial is taking place at Al Dahra Agricultural Company's farm to save water while irrigating date palm trees.

Since March, 12 trees out of the farm's 6,000 have been watered by Epic Green Solution's sub-surface irrigation system - and the results have been promising.

"We've been using 115 litres of water a day per tree," said Bart Rehbein, Epic's managing director. "The drip irrigation ranges between 200 and 2,000 litres a day per tree. We can cut that to 100 litres."

Two trenches, each one metre wide and two metres long, were dug up around each tree to install the system. A chamber pipe was placed one metre deep in each trench with a liner around it to keep the water in.

"We cut the roots on both sides of the tree last March to make way for the system, to get water closer to the tree and to stimulate new roots," said Laith Al Ogaili, Al Dahra's Al Ain farm manager. "New roots are now established."

The tree's roots grow out to the damp sand to get water.

Mr Rehbein will monitor the trees until next summer, when dates will be produced. "Last season, the dates were not so good," said Mr Al Ogaili. "So we're looking for next season's results, and it's going well so far."

With 41 million date palms in the UAE and less than 100mm of rain annually, the trees are a major drain on the country's limited water supplies.

In summer, the system's water pump will be turned on once a week and every two weeks in winter. "The big advantage is we're saving lots of water and it's a healthier environment for the trees," he said. "We have a water meter, too, so we'll be able to measure water-savings next summer."

 

cmalek@thenational.ae