A Hungarian invention can halve the water needed for irrigation

2021. december 14.

A product called Vízőr is a liquid that helps to retain soil moisture when sprayed on the soil. Its inventor Antal Vattay, the managing director of Water & Soil Kft., was a guest of the Blue Planet podcast.

 

Modern agriculture is one of the greatest achievements of our society but unfortunately, it is not at all innocent of harming the environment. Not only must a lot of land be used, but also, a lot of water is used for irrigation - and this is only increasing as humanity grows. There will be no more water and space, but the number of people to be fed will increase; what can be done?

The Hungarian invention called Vízőr can help with this problem. Antal Vattay, one of the inventors of Vízőr and the managing director of the company producing it, Water & Soil Kft., was the guest of the Blue Planet podcast on the 8th of November.

The sustainability program of President János Áder started with shocking data: Vattay said that as a result of modern farming the organic matter content of arable land has decreased and as a result, almost half of the irrigated water evaporates - in Hungary, this proportion is on average 42-48 percent, compared to 32-42 percent that can be absorbed by plants.

That wasn’t the case a hundred years ago,” he notes bitterly, then added: these numbers are even worse in dry places like parts of Africa or Asia, meaning they use even more water, so to speak, unnecessarily.

Available for five years now, Vízőr provides some help with this. This liquid is sprayed on the soil, increasing its water-holding capacity by about 50 percent. Vattay says the product is currently being tested on rice fields in India. And while there are no exact results yet, the improvement is spectacular; it is sufficient to flood the rice field every other day instead of the usual daily routine, with the same amount of water - that is, a 50 percent drop in water use. But as Vízőr proved successful not only in India but also in Africa, the question arose as to what the situation was here in Hungary.

The situation in Hungary is not at all good, very few people use Vízőr: it is presently used on 1,200 to 1,500 hectares, which is a very small number”, Vattay said. To find out how Vízőr could be more successful in Hungary, Vattay’s company contacted the National Meteorological Service (OMSZ) to obtain drought maps based on which they can identify areas with greater need.

To our greatest shock, it turned out that Hungary does not have a drought map. They had drought maps for the purposes of value assessment in insurance incidents.” Water & Soil agreed with the OMSZ on the methodology so that a drought map of Hungary could be completed, dealing with the past eight years.

This shows that there is a drought in Hungary, for example, covering an area 20 to 30 kilometres in diameter, and then a year later in an area five kilometres away, with a 15-kilometre diameter so we can’t really speak of a recurring drought that would make farmers feel that it is important to “incorporate Vízőr into their technology”.

According to Vattay, it would make sense to use it in Hungary, but they lack the capacity to expand here, so they are currently looking for a partner. According to the company's CEO, Vízőr can be used on one billion hectares worldwide, of which India covers 130 million hectares and Hungary 5 million hectares.

Our product, in my opinion, could be used here on 400-800 thousand hectares. We should find a professional trader here who sees this opportunity. We continue to focus on markets where water scarcity is a major problem.”

Click here to listen to the full podcast.

 

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