Servizio Comunitario di Informazione in materia di Ricerca e Sviluppo - CORDIS

Final Report Summary - IRRISEASOIL (A cheap, easy-to-handle desalination approach for crop irrigation under Mediterranean conditions)

Shortage of water is an issue of primary concern for the southern and western Mediterranean countries which are characterised by arid and semi-arid regions. The increase in population along with socioeconomic development and climatic changes result to temperature rising and rainfall decrease and, consequently, further deteriorate water balance. The use of non-conventional water resources through desalination of seawater and irrigation flow water could form an alternative option; however the available technologies need to be significantly improved to gain efficiency.

Therefore, the principal objectives of the IRRISEASOIL project were to:

1. develop cheap, highly effective, recyclable polymers for the desalination of seawater, irrigation flow waters and soil
2. use biotechnological models and methods to promote efficient nutrient and water use by plants so as to improve their immunity and resistance to diseases and droughts
3. combine the abovementioned techniques to improve soil and water quality and add nutrient value to irrigation.

Crops, salted water and soil were characterised, following the selection of two pilot sites, and led to libraries of nutrients and organic compounds. Knowledge was also gained regarding the chemical composition of salted water and soil projected for desalination. A wide variety of receptors were designed and synthesised based on polymers and crown ethers and were subsequently characterised using numerous analytical methods. The most selective receptors were subsequently chosen for their attachment to solid supports and evaluated for their capacity to remove the species of interest from water. Several recycling processes were considered in this direction. The obtained results were also compared to commercially available ion exchangers.

On the other hand, optimal conditions for salt removal were determined through a series of laboratory and pilot scale tests and a mobile system for soil desalination was designed, taking into account technical, economic and social requirements. Furthermore, organic and inorganic silicon oligomers were used for the composition of plant nutrients which were added to the desalinated irrigation water or were used as growth activators, fertilisers and plant protectors. The ability of selected plants to respond to desalinated or post-irrigation water and treated soil under Mediterranean conditions was finally investigated.

The project was very successful in terms of objectives' fulfilment. Dissemination activities included plenary and keynote lectures, several presentations at national and international conferences, radio interviews, interaction with industries and findings' communication to the public sector. Finally, a patent application was planned to allow for future commercialisation of the developed innovative, easily recyclable material that could be used for sodium removal from water.

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United Kingdom
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