Roots technology increases crop yield by 30%

By Trevor Hoey. Published at Sep 16, 2019, in Technology

Roots Sustainable Agricultural Technologies Ltd (ASX:ROO) has successfully used its Root Zone Temperature Optimisation (RZTO) cooling technology to increase the harvest yield of basil plants by 30% under extreme heat in the Arava desert in Israel.

While basil is grown and harvested in warmer months, the plant is highly susceptible to extreme weather conditions, leading to high mortality rates for producers and unprofitable farming practices.

Using RZTO cooling technology, Roots was able to reduce plant mortality by more than 60%, resulting in a 30% increase in yield compared to uncooled control crops.

The following chart shows substantial impact that RZTO technology has in terms of both lowering the temperature and maintaining a more balanced growing environment without the peaks and troughs (green line) normally experienced during summer.

Israeli government investing $17.6 million in precision agriculture

The positive results follow previous tests in winter near the Mediterranean coast where Roots’ RZTO technology was used to heat the roots of basil to increase yields by 66% and average plant size by 35%.

Highlighting the support for the industry, a 30% subsidy has been provided to basil growers by the Israeli Government under the Precision Ag Program.

This is part of a collaboration between the Israel Ministry of Agriculture and the Ministry of Finance, which is investing $17.6 million in innovative ag-tech and machinery.

Underlining the flexible farming options and financial benefits of RZTO, Roots chief executive, Dr Sharon Devir said, “The basil cooling test results reaffirm Roots’ product offering and validates the value we can offer producers year-round.

‘’Our RZTO cooling technology significantly improves yield on a range of crops, including basil, when compared to uncontrolled crops and saves on plant replacement costs due to reduced risk of mortality rates from volatile weather conditions.

“RZTO offers options for producers with increased planting cycles during traditional off-seasons and provides significant savings on energy costs when compared to commonly used air heating and cooling systems.’’

RZTO cooled basil crop (left) vs uncooled basil crop at a commercial farm in the Arava desert, Israel.
RZTO cooled basil crop (left) vs uncooled basil crop at a commercial farm in the Arava desert, Israel.

Roots opens stronger

Today’s news comes only a month after the company announced that it had initiated a planting program specifically aimed at examining the effects of its technology in improving several protein laden crops.

Trial planting has begun with a view to entering the plant-based meat market with high protein beans and peas chosen for planting.

If successful, Roots will continue to allocate further marketing resources to progress this initiative.

This development was well received by investors with the company’s shares increasing some 60% on the back of the news.

While there has been a retracement in the group’s share price in recent weeks, further success in its traditional markets as announced today could result in some positive share price momentum.

Roots’ shares traded as high as 5 cents in the first 30 minutes of trading, up 4.2% on Friday’s close.

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