They don't look pretty, and not what you'd imagine when you skip through an apple orchard but new plastic irrigation trays make the most out of limited water resources. We've already posted on fog and dew collectors. Here's something new: The company Tal Ya - for God's dew in Hebrew — have devised a simple and why-didn't-I-think-of-that solution for collecting dew.
Made from recycled materials, and recyclable, using them means your farm or orchard (yes they come in tree size too), may never have to weed again. Blocking the sun from allowing weeds to form, the trays also make the most of fertilizer since it funnels right down to the root. We want some. How much do they cost?
For about $1 a plant, you can buy a 70 cm by 70 cm Tal Ya tray the perfect size for pepper plants. It wouldn't work well for wheat though, as Daily Kos pointed out.
Like in the ancient times in the Holy Land when people collected dew from stones, the aluminum composite in the tray responds to shifts in temperature between night and day. When a change of 12 degrees C occurs, dew forms on both surfaces of the Tal Ya tray, which funnels the dew and condensation straight to the plant and its roots.
Launched in May at the Agritech conference in Israel, Tal Ya promises to squeeze dew from the air for watering crops where water resources are precious or scarce. This new invention has a number of ecological benefits that go beyond simple water savings.
They use non-PET recycled and recyclable plastic with UV filters, and a limestone additive. The trays do not degrade in the sun or after the application of pesticides or fertilizers. They have an estimated life time of 10 years.
Field tests in Israel with the Ministry of Agriculture suggests whopping water savings of up to 50 percent of irrigated water by using the Tal-Ya system.
Avraham Tamir, the company's CEO says: "Using our system has a number of benefits."
Farmers don't need to worry about weeds because the trays block the sun, so weeds can't take root. "Farmers need to use much less water, and in turn much less fertilizer on the crop," he explains. Less fertilizers and pesticides means less groundwater contamination.
They lock together like LEGO and leave room for irrigation equipment. The low tech solution requires no energy input: "Dew collection starts at night," Tamir says. "The critical mass goes down below," he explains while pointing to the serrated edges of the trays. If it rains, we can amplify 1 mm of rain so that it equals 27 mm.
Since water from dew and condensation is in effect distilled water this solution alleviates the salinity in the soil caused by irrigation. The trays also protect crops from Jack Frost, like in Canada or the United States where late and early season frosts put some crops at risk.
I just wonder if any of the materials from the trays will leak into the ground.