Leftover salty water from desalination can boost food security for Dubai


From using airplanes and radars for cloud seeding to zapping them via drones for increased rainfall, the UAE has come a long way in its efforts to create a climate conducive for sustainable growth that is signified by food security. As part of its efforts to start a green revolution in the middle of the desert, the country has also started experimenting with innovative solutions like nano-clay, that can be sprayed on to sand for transforming it into fertile soil, that holds on to water.

Vertical farms monitored by AI along with climate controlled domes for farming in harsh climates have also been set up across the Emirates, as part of efforts to deliver better produce using minimum resources. To satiate the thirst for fresh water in the dry climate, Dubai has been using renewable power to facilitate desalination operations, where salt is removed from sea water, and now the process may also deliver fresh food for the city.

Among its many experiments including the use of aquaponics, where plants and fish grow together in water without use of land, Dubai is now embracing salty farming. The method involves the use of discarded brine, to derive nutrition required for certain plants, that can ensure food security for the region.

The salty water is a by-product of desalination, which would’ve been dumped, if researchers hadn’t tested its potential for agriculture. They were able to cultivate what’s described as sea asparagus, along with popular superfood quinoa, through salty farming, and produced more than 12 tonnes of the eatables within six months.

Turning towards this method can be a game-changer for the Middle East and North Africa, since the region accounts for 70% of the world’s reject brine, which is not a waste product anymore. Growing food using salty water is also a futuristic move, since fresh water resources are getting dried up because of climate change.

Technology has also enabled scientists in the region to cut down use of water for agriculture, and generate fresh produce without the need for chemicals.

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