Saving water, growing crops: remote-controlled irrigation system to address water scarcity and promote preservation of available freshwater resources
The negative consequences of climate change are increasingly evident in the Shouf Biosphere Reserve in Lebanon as well. Here, the lack of water resources threatens the livelihoods of the local population, which largely rely on agriculture. We are working with local farmers to spread new technologies and sustainable farming practices, in order to avoid waste of freshwater resources and to reduce economic losses.
The Shouf Biosphere Reserve is the largest protected area in Lebanon and of the Middle East’s entire Mediterranean area. Here, the lack of water resources due to climate change is a serious problem: according to studies conducted by our partner Al-Shouf Cedar Society in 2017 and 2018, annual precipitation decreased by 43% on average over the last 30 years, while the average monthly temperature is increasing: +1°C in January and February, and even +4°C in August. This leads to a reduction of 6 to 8% of the total volume of water resources, including those for agricultural irrigation. The risk is therefore a significant reduction in production with obvious consequences for the income of the local population.
In this context, it is necessary to urgently intervene to limit the negative effects of climate change, to promote a sustainable adaptation solution and, at the same time, to revive the local economy, which is mainly based on agricultural production. We do this through the introduction of Blue Tentacles, an innovative technology conceived by the University of Trento. Already successfully tested in the Trentino Region (Italy), this solution consists of an automated irrigation system that analyzes data from a local weather station, satellite images and sensors inserted into the ground to measure the degree of humidity and temperature. The different data collected are translated into an algorithm that allows to calibrate the amount of water, avoiding waste and thus allowing farmers to irrigate lands for longer periods.
The first step for adopting this technology is the collection of information on selected lands, with the active participation of local farmers. This phase will be followed by the restructuring of the existing irrigation infrastructure and the installation of the irrigation system. Technical and practical trainings will allow farmers and local government technicians to learn how the system works.
A wide communication campaign will promote the benefits of Blue Tentacles and its adoption, through informative materials, video tutorials, participation in local and national fairs. Once the new technology will be largely adopted, workshops will be organized at national level to disseminate good practices and lessons learned, with technical recommendations for future use. The exchange of knowledge between technical operators, research institutes, universities and farmers' associations is therefore essential. So that everyone can contribute to respond effectively to the threats of a changing climate, with innovative and replicable solutions.
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