An irrigation system specific to the circular bioeconomy
The Circular Bioeconomy refers to the set of economic activities that are bio-based, and that at the same time introduce Circular Economy criteria in their processes. Both concepts, the bioeconomy and the circular economy, have been gaining ground in EU institutions in response to concerns about the long-term viability of the current resource-intensive economic model. Proof of this is that in 2018,
the EU updated its Circular Bioeconomy Strategy, first published in 2012.
which had first been published in 2012.
Resources, sometimes scarce, such as water, phosphorus or organic matter in soils, or others related to agricultural activity in its technological dimension, which, however, often depends on critical raw materials that make us dependent on third countries.
In Andalusia, the community in which DeepDrop® System was born, the WEARE Group of the University of Cordoba and Seville consider that the
Circular Bioeconomy in Andalucía
is still at an early stage.
Biocircular aspects of DeepDrop®.
What distinguishes the DeepDrop® subsurface and localized drip irrigation system as a system of the circular bioeconomy?
- This irrigation system is based on the application of devices that are easy to assemble and disassemble for product maintenance, which allows for greater durability of the product.
- Allows the reuse of drippers already in use in a drip irrigation system.
- In case one of the components is damaged, customers can exchange only the part that needs to be replaced.
- Made from recycled and recyclable material. The transparent dome is made of plastic from greenhouses in Almeria. We could therefore speak of “proximity recycling”.
- Made of material resistant to chemicals, UV rays and high temperatures.
- Shelf life of the DeepDrop®: No studies have been conducted but almost all components have an estimated shelf life of more than 5 years considering that all components and materials have already been used in other applications although the capsule may have a slightly shorter shelf life due to solar radiation.
- It is a mechanical-manual system that does not require the use of rare materials and allows checking at a glance if the water is circulating correctly through the soil. This last aspect is very relevant in view of the external dependence of the use of electronified materials. With the DeepDrop® system, the “sensor” is equivalent to the capsule itself in which the dripper is protected: if, at the time of irrigation, we see the water circulating, then we know that the water is reaching the subsoil, otherwise we will know that there is a critical point and we will also know that we must act on that specific localized point and assess whether the soil is clogging the pipe where the water arrives or if the dripper is clogged and needs to be replaced or cleaned, for example. While some may think that it takes a lot of time to implement drippers on farms, this time is then saved by being able to visualize and act quickly and in the right place without generating water losses at a time when we cannot afford to lose a single drop. It is also an inexpensive system that pays for itself quickly.
- The DeepDrop® irrigation system
DeepDrop® irrigation system
drastically reduces water stress on plants and trees.
. In this way, it contributes to saving water and to the plant health of our fields in a very simple way at a very delicate moment of this basic resource that allows us to be or not to be in the primary sector, or, as it says in the Horizon 2030 Spanish Bioeconomy Strategy “to maintain the capacities and potentialities of the productive systems in a new context of food production and demand.”. In other words, to ensure our own food sovereignty.
In the future we want to become circular
In 2018, the European Environment Agency presented the report “The circular economy and the bioeconomy. Partners in sustainability“. One of the key aspects he pointed out is that “The Bioeconomy Strategy pays little attention to aspects related to eco-design, waste management and recycling, as well as the role of innovative business models in these aspects.”
Thus, one of the challenges, in addition to the aspects of eco-design mentioned in the previous section, is to reduce the impact on the environment of possible waste generated by agricultural activity.
Although the DeepDrop® irrigation system is designed for durability, after a period of time, its components will need to be replaced (depending on the parts, we estimate between three and five years). We do not want these materials to become waste in the environment, so they should be able to be reintroduced into the factories we work with. Although it is difficult to make temporary forecasts at this time, DeepDrop® is planning to study, in the future, the implementation of a “return return system” with our customers to recycle DeepDrop® materials in order to be as respectful as possible with our environment. The environment, the one that sustains us, provides us with food and protects us and, therefore, that we must take care of.