Optimal root zone temperatures = better and more crops

Source: ROOTS Sustainable Agricultural Technologies

Roots – Sustainable Agricultural Technologies Ltd is developing and commercializing disruptive, modular, cutting-edge technologies to address critical problems being faced by agriculture today, including plant climate management via root zone temperature optimisation and the shortage of water for irrigation.

Roots has developed proprietary know-how and patents to optimize performance, lower installation costs, and reduce energy consumption to a minimum — all in order to bring maximum benefit to farmers.

Roots was established in 2012 and graduated in 2016 from the prestigious technology incubator program administered by the Israel Chief Scientist Office.

KEY TECHNOLOGIES
1>> Root Zone Temperature Optimisation (RZTO)

Significantly increases yield, improves quality, saves energy and mitigates extreme heat and cold stress. This technology includes:

  • Root zone heating and cooling based on ground source heat exchange (GSHE), operated solely by circulation pumps
  • Root zone heating and cooling based on hybrid systems — GSHE with a circulation pump + heat pumps
  • Root zone heating and cooling based solely on heat pumps
  • Cooling and heating water and growing solutions in hydroponic facilities
  • A combination of root zone heating and cooling systems with irrigation by condensation
  • A combination of root zone heating and cooling systems with managing irrigation and fertilisation
  • Multi-purpose, “all in one” pipes for heat/chill diffusion and fertigation (fertilisation+irrigation) in the root zone
2>> Irrigation By Condensation (IBC)

Provides water for irrigation from moisture in the air and soil

Intellectual Property:
Two USA patents have been granted in 16 countries. An additional and significant patent is in the PCT stage and pending in multiple territories.

Products
Root temperatures influence all parameters of the plant’s physiology and an optimum Root Zone Temperature (RZT) range is essential for a plant’s robust growth, productivity and quality.
The RZTO system is based on the phenomenon that, at a depth of a few meters, soil maintains a relatively stable temperature that approximates the mean annual air temperature and is unaffected by daily or seasonal air temperature fluctuations. The underground temperature is always colder during the summer and hotter during the winter than the top soil temperature.
Leveraging the principle of Ground Source Heat Exchange (GSHE), Roots installs a closed-loop system of pipes, where the lower part is installed at the stable temperature depth, and the upper part in the target crop’s root zone. Water flowing through the lower pipes is charged by the soil’s stable temperature. The heated (or cooled) water is pumped through the pipes installed in the root zone, where the heat (or cold) is discharged. The system is able to heat the root zone during the winter and cool it during the summer (by up to 10° Celsius), maintaining the RZT at a relatively stable and favorable range throughout the year. The energy consumption of the GSHE system is for the water circulation pump only.
The result: the system is able to heat the root zone during the winter and cool it during the summer (by up to 10° Celsius), maintaining the RZT at a relatively stable and favorable range throughout the year. The energy consumption of the GSHE system is for the water circulation pump only.
In cases where it is not feasible to dig in order to install the GSHE system, a proprietary, efficient heat pump is used instead. The heat pumps have higher energy consumption compared with GSHE, but they can be programmed to provide a very accurate root zone temperature range as needed.
It is also possible to install a hybrid system that incorporates both GSHE and a heat pump. In this configuration, the heat pump is used only during extreme heat or cold spells and thus the overall energy consumption of the hybrid system is relatively small.

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Case Study
Case Study
Digging and installing GSHE coils for root zone hating and cooling
ROOTS Ltd’s IBC is a standalone, closed-loop, solar-operated (or other energy source) system that irrigates crops by condensing air/soil humidity on the external surface of pipes. Water is cooled in an insulated water tank to below dew point temperatures. Then the chilled water is circulated through pipes in the field or greenhouse that are placed on the ground surface and/or in the soil at the plant’s average root depth. The humidity that condenses on the pipes flows by gravity to the soil, irrigating and cooling the plants. In many cases, no additional irrigation is required to maintain plant survival and food production.
In many cases, no additional irrigation is required to maintain plant survival and food production.
The amount of water produced and the required energy inputs are related directly to the relative humidity, air temperatures, surface area of pipes laid in the field, and the temperature of the water circulating in the pipes.
Although IBC itself is not a new concept (IBC has been proved with the use of cold sea water in pipes in Hawaii), Roots’ closed cycle system is the only one that can facilitate food production and positively impact the entire food chain, completely off water and electricity grids.
A second pilot experiment currently in progress demonstrates the ability to sustain the growth of several crops (lettuce, cucumbers, tomato, spinach) using only condensed moisture from the air to irrigate the crop and chill its roots.

The Company is further investigating the technical, economic, and agronomical feasibility of IBC. No technology barriers are anticipated and the Company has developed extensive proprietary knowledge on how to integrate, operate and scale up IBC systems. Commercialization is expected to begin within the next 12 months.