From aquaponic agriculture and solar-powered "rain-making" panels to energy saving eco-homes, the latest environmental projects at Sharjah Research, Technology and Innovation Park offer a glimpse into the future of the UAE.
Water and environmental technologies are two of the six key research projects attracting collaborations between scientists, researchers and students from the American University of Sharjah. Transport, construction, big data and renewable technologies are other key areas of research, but it is the park’s farm and eco-estate that are attracting the most attention.
Anshu Santosh, a farm manager from India at the park, specializes in managing sustainable agriculture. “We mainly grow lettuce, leafy greens, tomatoes, chillies and beetroot,” she said. “We have a fully indoor growing area of vertical farms to allow us to grow crops year round, even at the height of summer".
Aquaponics is a more sustainable way of farming, using fish waste to fertilize crops without using soil. The fish release waste that drains into a swirl filter tank. The water rotates and deposits sediment. The clean water then re-circulates back to the plants.
The process allows natural bacteria to convert the ammonia from the fish waste into nitrates to add nutrients to the plants.