Muscat: Water consumption for farming can be lowered by up to 90 per cent through the use of hydroponics — a low- to no-soil based farming method — according to an Omani researcher.
Dr. Abdullah Al Ghafri, Director of the Aflaj Research Unit at the University of Nizwa, said that hydroponics offer many benefits, such as "saving space, as well as boosting the speed of growth and saving water. This can also be applied anywhere as long as light and air are available."
In a video where he showcased a small hydroponics setup, he said that hydroponics can lower water waste by 90 per cent. This can be helpful in Oman, where arable land constitutes only 7 per cent of the total land area, according to the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries.
Dr. Al Ghafri recently showcased a small hydroponics in a video that he shared on social media. According to a talk he presented in 2017, "Hydroponics is a method of growing plants using mineral nutrient solutions, in water, without soil. Hydroponics offers the advantages of small space, fast growth, very low water consumption, high yield, clean and fresh plants, and low costs. Hydroponics can produce vegetables, fruits such as melons, small to medium fruit trees, and cereals."
An amateur farmer in Muscat said exclusively to Times of Oman, "I tried having a small system in my old home and it worked amazingly well, especially for lettuce. The yield and quality was superior to other sorts."
According to a conference paper by Ahmed Tawfiq among others, hydroponics are useful in Oman: "Soil-less (hydroponics) production systems were introduced under a joint research programme between ICARDA and the Agriculture Research Centre in Oman. Yield and crop quality were superior compared to production from the traditional soil techniques."
These techniques can be useful to Oman, as the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries said earlier this year that only 7 per cent of available land in Oman is actually arable and can be farmed.