Enhancing Controlled Environment Agriculture in Desert Ecosystems with AC/DC Hybrid Solar Technology
Controlled Environment Agriculture (CEA) plays a crucial role in promoting sustainable farming practices within the challenging climate of the Arabian Peninsula. Traditional CEAs, however, are confronted with excessive water and electricity consumption due to the region's elevated temperatures and humidity levels. To address these challenges, an innovative project was carried out at the Al Dhaid Research Station, United Arab Emirates, integrating solar-powered cooling and irrigation, closed hydroponic systems, net-house structures, root zone cooling, and ultra-low-energy drippers. The study employed a cooled greenhouse alongside two net houses, one equipped with a solar-powered cooling and irrigation system. Cucumber crops were cultivated within each structure, demonstrating that the combined technologies could prolong production periods despite increasing temperatures, while simultaneously reducing energy consumption by 95% and water usage by 80%, without compromising crop yield. The findings of this study suggest that the implementation of this novel approach holds significant potential for boosting crop productivity and water efficiency in desert agriculture systems.