The United Arab Emirates has begun experimenting with salt water as an alternative to fresh water irrigation, researchers said Tuesday.
The growing scarcity of fresh water in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) has experts looking for ways to use salt water for plants, animal feed, trees, and city green areas and municipal gardens.
Dubai's Center for Salt-based Irrigation has made a strategic plan to use salt water in future irrigation. The center, which was established in 1996, began its salt-water experiments in August, the center director Dr. Mahmoud Attar said.
The center has begun collecting and categorizing plants in the Gulf region and around the world that can absorb and grow on salt water.
Attar said the center then studies how to use the inherited structure of these plants to grow garden, field, and animal food plants.
Attar said the center had experts and specialist working on salt-level control in the water and controlled plant growth. Research is conducted on 100 hectares and 40 hectares of land has been allocated for experiments. The center has two water sources, one with a medium concentration of salt, and the other with a high concentration of salt.
Attar said the irrigation would be computer programmed to control the amount of water and salt level. The water will be dispensed in the traditional way, through sprinklers or watering plants individually.
Dr. Hussam Hasbaini, an expert at the center said the agriculture sector takes up 70 percent of the underwater resources of nations of the sub-Arabian Peninsula. He said with rainfall in these countries no more than 100 mm per year the depleted reserves are not replaced. That, along with several dry winters, has exacerbated the shortage of fresh water, Hasbaini said.
Hasbaini said the center's main goal is to ease the pressure on the fresh water resources and to make the Emirates greener by using abundant salt water.
The OPEC International Development Fund, the Arab Economic Development Fund, and the Islamic Bank fund the center's work. – (Albawaba-MEBG)
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