How one Norwegian firm hopes to turn the deserts green

A new company supported by Expo Live hopes to turn arid landscapes into lucrative, arable land
How one Norwegian firm hopes to turn the deserts green
(AFP/Getty Images)
By Bernd Debusmann Jr
Sat 01 Dec 2018 02:20 PM

What is Desert Control?

Desert Control is a Norwegian technology and agro-technology company that has spent the last 10 years carrying out research and development to find ways to make the earth green again. The company’s stated primary objectives are to help prevent food crises from taking place in the future, as well as reduce water usage in order to preserve natural resources. Additionally, the company hopes to improve food security around the world and promote agricultural solutions that can be adopted both by small and large-scale farmers. These farmers, the company says, will also save money and water while getting better returns from their investments and land.

What is the technology being used?

The company uses a material called liquid nanoclay, which is 100 percent mineral and is, essentially, a simple mixture of water and clay that has the ability to transform dry, sandy soil into arable land. The material can be sprayed directly onto affected land using existing irrigation methods and eventually creates spongy, hollow structures that retain water about 40 to 60 centimetres underground – the typical depth of plant root The process also relies upon various smart technologies which mean that irrigation is not based on weather forecasts, but on automated sensor data that collects information on soil conditions. The conditions allow water and nutrients applied to the soil to be retained longer than traditional methods, allowing grass, wheat, carrots, corns and other vegetation to thrive.

What results are expected?

According to the company, the technology has shown a staggering 52 percent water savings compared to conventional and traditional sources of agriculture. The company has set the goal of treating two million square kilometres of desert land and hopes to have an impact on 100 million people around the globe, including tens of millions of people in the Middle East and North Africa.

How will this help the UAE?

If the land can be treated with liquid nanoclay and the results are found to be positive, the UAE has the potential to produce more of its own food, and export it abroad as well. Notably, a pilot that was conducted in Al Ain recently found that a wide range of vegetables, carrots, okra, and sweet peppers thrived in the area’s particular conditions. The long-term objectives, according to the company, is that the UAE and other countries have their own domestic food production and food security programmes.

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