UAE – Pure Food Technology, a sustainable agriculture firm in the UAE, has introduced a vertical hydroponic garden that grows crops without soil.

Situated in the Jebel Ali Industrial Area, this farm leverages robotics, solar power, artificial intelligence, and patent-pending technology to cultivate vegetables, including baby potatoes.

The system, specifically designed for desert conditions, replaces soil with a nutrient-rich water solution, allowing plant roots to grow in a deep-water culture.

Sebastian Carlton, CEO of Pure Food Technology, explained the farm’s unique approach: “This system has been specifically developed for the desert, where water resources are scarce, but sunlight is readily available. With minimum interference and with the robotics and AI all you need will be a source of water and solar energy.”

The farm’s operations are almost entirely automated, requiring minimal human involvement. From planting to packaging, automation and AI ensure precise and efficient processes. Carlton emphasized the importance of investing in advanced technologies to meet the growing food demands.

“As the population grows, the only way to feed these populations is by investing new technology into farming,” he shared.

In addition to producing fresh vegetables, the farm supports the UAE community by providing produce to labor camps, enhancing worker welfare. Carlton highlighted the farm’s potential to make the UAE self-reliant in food production, aligning with the nation’s sustainability goals.

“When we consider how we can revolutionize agriculture, we must focus on utilizing the land and not limit ourselves to any area. With this system, we can plant anywhere in the desert. One of our devices also filters the water to suit the seeds, so any water can be used, whether salty water or unfiltered,” Carlton concluded.

North America’s drought-resistant potato initiative

Meanwhile, in Atlantic Canada, scientists are working on a new potato variety better suited for North American climates impacted by climate change.

Bourlaye Fofana, a research scientist at Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, leads a team studying wild potato varieties from the Andes in South America. These wild types may hold the key to developing drought-resistant potatoes.

Fofana’s team focuses on diploid wild potatoes, which have two copies of each chromosome, unlike the tetraploid commercial varieties with four copies.

This chromosomal simplicity makes wild potatoes easier to work with in the lab. “I have been working on diploids since 2014 and we are getting clones that are viable in terms of yield, tuber size, and quality. We know, for example, the starch content is quite good, and the processing quality is quite good,” Fofana said.

Future of potato farming

These initiatives in Dubai and Canada highlight significant advancements in potato farming. In Dubai, Pure Food Technology’s vertical farm demonstrates how technology can overcome geographic and resource limitations, ensuring a steady supply of fresh produce.

In Canada, the development of drought-resistant potatoes promises to bolster North American agriculture against the challenges posed by climate change.

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