Dubai Farm: The Farms of the Future

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Agricultural development leading to increased food production is hampered by the climate with Dubai farms – accounting for a mere 0.1% of GDP since 2010.  Dubai’s dependence on imported food and agricultural products comes as no surprise despite the efforts to develop its own agriculture sector. Having said that, modern Dubai farms are heavily relying on the modern farming techniques such as hydroponics, vertical farming and underground irrigation systems.

Boon for Dubai Farm – Underground Irrigation 

Evaporation is a common problem when watering above the surface. The underground irrigation system results in less water loss to evaporation. Consequently, it can transform the agriculture in UAE provided the technology is installed across the country.

Dubai farm’s underground irrigation can save about a trillion liters of water a year. This project may reduce water waste if used throughout the United Arab Emirates.

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One of the renowned farms, located on Dubai’s outskirts, has more than 1,260 date palm trees and aims to save a trillion liters of water annually in the U.A.E. This is roughly the same amount used by half the population of UAE. The farm has teamed up with an agritech company. It is in the process of implementing an underground watering system that reduces the amount of water lost through traditional irrigation methods, which could be as high as 30 percent. 

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There are about 20 million date palm trees in the U.A.E. The potential annual savings will be the equivalent of a 200-meter tank of water stretching along the iconic Sheikh Zayed Road from Dubai to Abu Dhabi. Previously, the farm, before using the new system, lost about 170 million liters of water on an annual basis. Subsequently, this figure has come down to about 86 million liters after they adopted subsurface technology. The new irrigation system inserts pipes into the ground, allowing water to directly find the tree’s roots.

Increase in Crop yields

Another benefit of the new technology is that it has resulted in a 10 percent increase in each tree’s crop. They believe that when they go below the surface, there is less water lost to irrigation. When you are rinsing above the feeling, much water is lost, and the roots become shorter. With their proposed system, they can grow about 60 percent to 70 percent. The agriculture sector uses 70 percent of all potable water each year globally.

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Consequently, the company has estimated that its underground system saved about 40,000 to 50,000 liters of water per tree every year. This represents a saving of 60 percent compared with watering the trees with the traditional above-ground methods widely used worldwide.

Dubai Farm – Agriculture revolution with vertical farm

One of the bigger Dubai Farms has started a farming revolution in the region. by setting up the first indoor vertical farm in Dubai. They have earned a reputation for supplying the most delicate microgreens and herbs to Dubai’s top restaurants, caterers, and chefs. Their mission is to reduce the gap between the chef’s kitchen and the farm. Their passion for locally grown fresh produce and the demand for gourmet leafy greens all year round has inspired them.

They have planted the seeds for something entirely different at their farm near Downtown Dubai. Using the latest hydroponics technology, they grow nutritious and delicious micro-greens and herbs without sunlight, soil, or pesticides. Their revolutionary farming methods use up to 80 percent less water, and they are sustainable and energy-efficient.

Vertical Farm in Dubai – Futuristic Dubai Farm

One of the renowned Dubai Farms have created a green patch in the heart of one of the world’s most dynamic yet agriculturally challenged cities. They are the first in Dubai to supply gourmet greens to restaurant kitchens when picked. Their ultimate goal is to put the U.A.E. on the map as an upscale fruit and vegetable producer.

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Vertical farming produces food vertically in stacked layers, vertically inclined surfaces, and integrated with other structures. They use a combination of indoor farming techniques and controlled-environment agriculture technology. The vertical farms control environmental factors such as humidity, gases, and temperature, use artificial light sources, and apply fertigation systems. 

Transition from an Apartment to large Dubai Farm

Another Dubai Farm was founded 20 years ago by a resident, who started on her apartment balcony in Bur Dubai. Recovering from a chronic illness, she had pledged to eat only the freshest organic greens. She had grown up surrounded by vegetable patches and fruit trees. She set up an Organic Farm in 2009 together with a group of friends. Its short-lived temporary success convinced her that growing organic produce using organic fertilizer on a larger scale in the U.A.E. was indeed possible.

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She started again in 2012 and set up another organic farm. Initially, the farm had a few scattered vegetable patches and one old grow house. They delivered the produce to residents of Arabian Ranches every week. The farm expanded slowly, and with increased yields, they introduced more frequent deliveries. Finally, they started an online store and the farm shop opened in 2013.

Building Relationship with Lebanon, India and Sri Lanka

The farm initially focused on selling its produce and gradually started building relationships with other organic farmers in the region. Later, they began to import organic fruit from India, Lebanon, and Sri Lanka. When they began importing other organic items, the focus was on clean organic nutritionally valuable health foods.

Since then, the Dubai farm has gradually expanded their main farm. They have also extended their product range, home delivery frequency/radius, and supplied a wide range of wholesale clients.

Dubai Farm Relying on Hydroponics

Another major player in Dubai’s farming landscape is located between Dubai and Abu Dhabi. The hydroponics farm site at Al Bahia opened in 2005 and the farm site was renamed in October 2008. The farm takes pride in promoting high-quality produce by utilizing the modern water-saving methods.

Growing fruits and vegetables is rapidly increasing its professional-level worldwide and becoming highly specialized in today’s economy. With quality crop management, it’s possible to increase both production and quality. The farm’s vision is to continue leading the U.A.E. into modern farming techniques, with clean and ethical farming practices to produce fresh, healthy fruits and vegetables classed as amongst the best available anywhere within the world.

We all love vine-ripened hothouse tomatoes, pest-free lettuce and cucumbers, and a myriad of vegetables grown commercially in greenhouses. Therefore, growing produce in a greenhouse can be a great way to reduce the need for pesticides and can make it possible to extend the growing season for our local produce.

Utilizing this hydroponics method for growing their vegetables allows the Dubai farm to accurately manage both water and nutrients as required by the plants throughout their growing stage, from when the seeds are first planted through to the final harvest. 

Dubai Farm – Greenhouse

The first greenhouse was created  in 2005. They are  the only company to have this revolution patented hydroponics technology throughout the Middle East. They cover a total area of 1,000 square meters. 

Their greenhouse is unique as it stands 9 meters tall. It has computerized climate and humidity control systems. Subsequently, these control systems monitor and regulate the temperature within the greenhouse. Consequently, the air within the greenhouse can be replaced six times in every hour. This provides fresh air and carbon dioxide within the greenhouse. It continually looks towards the future by exploring new and better means of delivering superior quality fruits & vegetables to its clientele.

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Since the farm first opened the greenhouse, it has gained a reputation amongst its clients as – Little Holland in the U.A.E.. This name came about as the lettuces grown at the farm have their seeds imported from countries as far away as Holland and produced under European management. Today, the hydroponics business of Dubai Farms has grown from the original 1,000 square meters to approximately 10,000 square meters of hydroponics system, growing mainly in European variety lettuces and herbs.  The plan is in place to add these produce for their clients.

Better and Cleaner Environment for the Future

Dubai Farms pride themselves on a better and cleaner environment for our future generations. They plan to achieve this by avoiding the use of pesticides wherever possible. In fact, in many cases, because there is no direct planting into the soil but rather within specially designed hydroponics systems, there is minimal usage and at times no usage of any chemicals.

Clean practices like implementing preventive measures, using organic sprays (a unique mixture of plant extracts) are the norm. They have implemented the method of natural biological pest control throughout the farm. Although they are not an organic farming group, most visitors, after visiting the farm, will refer to them as Organic due to the high standard practices that is visible throughout their farm.

Companion planting method acts as a natural repellent against unwanted insects. Due to this natural repellent, there is no need for pesticides. Many plants have natural substances within their leaves or flowers that can act as a repellent against certain insects. In many situations, they can help improve the growth rate and the flavor of other vegetables and fruits. 

No doubt, Dubai has a harsh climate for farming, but that has not deterred the Dubai Farms to opt for Technology and go about building farms for the future.

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