Project properties

Title Advanced subsurface irrigation system using rockwool
Group Soil Physics and Land Management group
Project type thesis
Credits 24-39
Supervisor(s) Angel de Miguel and Jos van Dam
Examiner(s) Coen Ritsema
Contact info
Begin date 2021/05/25
End date
Description The use of modern irrigation technologies allow us to apply the exact amount of water (and nutrients) required by the plants. However, most of the farmer still use old and inefficient systems. This project aim to develop a new and cheap irrigation and water management technology, looking for a more efficient water use and higher crop yields, while saving on labor, operation and maintenance cost.

This project use the technology developed by the company Hydrorock (HR), composed of sub-surface installed blocks made of rockwool. These elements are characterized by a high-water retention capacity and a high infiltration rate. So far, HR is using this technology for drainage, to reduce the risk of flooding. However, the technology could be also be used the other way around, providing water to soil according to the crop water demand. Since the water is provided underground, and therefore close to the roots, no losses from direct evaporation or deep percolation are expected.

For this, the project aims to develop some laboratory experiments and a pilot under semi-arid conditions (Dubai) to test the performance of the system.

Research Objective/Question
�What is the optimal design of the irrigation system?
�How the system could be operated and monitored remotely?
�How much water could be saved compared with traditional and modern irrigation systems?

What is expected from the student (type of research)

The student will mainly analyze the performance of the current pilot installed in Dubai. Experiments are also expected, either at laboratory or field scale, in order to test different configurations of the material. Field works in The Netherlands and/or Dubai depends on the travel restrictions imposed during the project period.
Used skills
Requirements good analytical skills. Experience with R and/or soil water modelling tools is an added value.