Masdar Institute working to bolster UAE’s agriculture

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Masdar Institute working to bolster UAE's agriculture

Masdar Institute working to bolster UAE’s agriculture

(Abu Dhabi) – The Masdar Institute of Science and Technology is working to develop a novel innovation that can help address the country’s food, water and energy security concerns, through UAE national graduate student Fatima Al Jallaf’s soil fertility-enhancing biodegradable “microbeads,” which will improve the country’s ability to support farming.
In her research, which is being conducted through the Masdar Institute Centre for Water and Environment (iWater), specific microbes will be attached to the microbeads, and once inserted in the ground, the microbes will spread through the soil and improve its ability to sustainably support crops.
“Microbial communities, like the ones we want to bring to UAE soils, need an environment to live in. This is the role of the microbead – like a housing community, it will contain all of the ‘amenities’ required for the microbes to thrive. When in the soil, the microbes will propagate in the beads and release important nutrients, which will diffuse out to the soil,” explained Dr. Hector Hernandez, Assistant Professor of Chemical Engineering and Advisor to Al Jallaf.
Fertility-enhancing microbeads have been developed before and have successfully been used in places like the state of Washington in the USA. However, that type of bead is not suitable for the UAE’s hot soils – they dry up and shrink within hours after being released into the soil.
(Courtesy WAM)