Roots takes another step in developing off grid technologies

By Trevor Hoey. Published at Mar 5, 2020, in Technology

When Roots Sustainable Agricultural Technologies Ltd (ASX:ROO) released its annual report at the end of February, management underlined the progress that had been made with its Irrigation by Condensation (IBC) systems.

The foundations were laid in June 2019 when the company hosted a government, departmental and business delegation headed by the South Australia Minister for Primary Industries and Regional Development, The Hon Tim Whetstone MP, at its research and development hub in Beit Halevy, Israel.

The delegation examined the Root Zone Temperature Optimization (RZTO) and IBC technologies as it looked to for new ways to help ameliorate the impact of drought on agriculture.

Roots also presented its IBC technology at the 2019 Agrivest event in Tel Aviv, where it was a finalist in the ‘Best Agtech company’ category.

The group went on to establish a collaborative agreement with cold thermal energy storage company Nostromo Ltd in October to progress the commercialisation of its solar-powered off-grid Irrigation by Condensation (IBC) systems.

Under the agreement, the collaboration centres on developing an autonomous and cost-effective solar-powered water cooling and energy storage system to replace lithium batteries in Roots’ IBC system.

The combined demonstration is underway at Nostromo’s laboratory in Israel using Nostromo’s IceBrick to irrigate crops at night, using only the condensation formed on the external surface of pipes.

Complementary opportunities using gas based pumps

Just this week Roots has taken another step towards progressing this initiative, announcing that it had commenced collaboration with FinePro Consulting Ltd’s representative in Israel of Robur, the leading Italian gas-based heat pumps manufacturer to explore complementary sales opportunities within the growing agricultural technologies sector.

This collaboration will also ascertain the level of demand for off-grid technologies with respect to root zone heating and cooling, and green house climate control.

Many farmers across a broad range of geographic regions are not connected to electricity grids, a limiting factor on their ability to operate climate management options in the greenhouses.

Tapping into this market will significantly bolster the sales potential of Roots’ patented Root Zone Temperature Optimisation (RZTO) technology.

One of Robur’s heat pumps is already installed in California, and following the successful results achieved from the installation, the company opted to expand the collaboration for both the Israeli and international markets.

The two parties will use Robur’s teams in Israel for turnkey installations, with Roots’ technical staff allowing farmers to use RZTO technology for off grid installations.

Gas pumps open up large new markets

Using Robur’s gas operated off-grid heat pumps opens vast markets in Israel, California and elsewhere to work with gas-operated heat pumps.

In addition, Roots received an initial design from Robur for an off-grid Irrigation by Condensation (IBC) set up that includes a gas operated chiller backed by small solar panel installation and batteries.

This design is intended to lower the IBC overall price and facilitate the use of IBC where electricity is not available or solar panels are not fully functional due to heavy cloud cover.

Special terms and prices will be awarded to Roots by Robur as a function of the number of units bought.

Underlining the positive impact that a global rollout of integrated RZTO and IBC systems would have on the group’s bottom line, Roots chief executive and chairman Boaz Wachtel said, “We see substantial opportunities for the integration of gas-operated heat pumps to operate with our RZTO and IBC systems.

“This marks an important technological development for the company and significantly opens up opportunities to sell our RZTO and IBC systems for off-grid farms around the world, providing considerable positive impacts on the company’s bottom line.

“We look forward to providing further updates on how this collaboration progresses in due course.”

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