Ag-tech disruptor, Roots Sustainable Agricultural Technologies Limited (ASX: ROO) has been granted a patent by the Australian Patent Office for a key part of its unique Root Zone Temperature Optimization (RZTO) technology which optimises plant physiology for increased growth, health, productivity and quality by stabilising the plant’s root zone temperature.
The patent titled Heat delivery system and method (WO 2015/155763, application number AU 2015246007) relates to a multi-purpose ‘smart pipe’ system which diffuses heat or cold only directly at a plant's root zone level, rather than between plants, where pipe system segments are insulated. The pipe, at alternating pressures, can also act as an emitter of fluids (water or fertigation) at root zone level. These features, in a single pipe system, will save farmers considerable expenditure as it negates the need for separate root zone heating and cooling pipes and drip irrigation pipes.
The Australian patent runs until April 2035 and provides a precedent and strong reference for other countries such as Israel, China, United States, South Korea and Spain where Roots has also filed patents as part of local operations.
Dr Sharon Devir, CEO and co-inventor said, "The granting of this patent is significant for the company as it solidifies Roots’ innovation and intellectual property leadership in root zone temperature management. We have proved through successful pilots on several crops in different countries that our unique RZTO technology can substantially increase crop quality and yield, mitigate extreme heat or cold stress and improve farm efficiency through quicker crop rotations while using less energy than other irrigation systems and making optimal use of available water.”
“This patent also ensures Roots’ competitors who may wish to emulate this disruptive technology with an additional barrier for entry, delaying and obstructing their plans to enter the root zone heating and cooling sector with anything like our advanced system that offers so much value to farmers in several countries.”
The smart pipe is developed and manufactured exclusively through a joint venture arrangement between Roots and WFI, a leading Israeli plastic extrusion manufacturer that specialises in advanced technology applications in the construction and piping industries.
“The addition of the ‘smart pipe’ system to Roots’ RZTO technology will allow farmers who use underground drip irrigation to save money as they no longer need multiple pipe systems to drip irrigate or heat or cool crop root zones, and the smart pipes reduce energy loss between plants and optimise the RZTO system's overall energy use.”
The scope of the patent is broad encompassing 29 approved features including: • specially manufactured monolithic pipes, with alternate heat insulated segments and heat transferring segments; • heat transferring segment which correspond with the location of a respective heat ‘consumer’ (plant); • heat insulated segments and heat transferring segments made from different materials, which provide different heat transfer coefficients; • a heat delivery system that includes a fluid emitting system comprising at least one emitting pipe with several different types of drip irrigation or spray emitters; • a ground source heat exchange and delivery system comprising piped buried in the ground, allowing flow of a heat-accommodating fluid through it and transferring heat from the ground around it through the sidewalls. And a second piping within it that allows heat accommodating fluid to transfer heat to plant root zones; and • the method of manufacture for agricultural applications.
The new smart pipes will play a key role in the RZTO system that is receiving positive attention from farmers in different regions. Root Zone Temperature Optimization (RZTO) optimises plant physiology for increased growth, health, productivity and quality by stabilising the plant’s root zone temperature. Leveraging the principle of Ground Source Heat Exchange (GSHE), Roots installs a closed-loop system of underground coils for heat charging and pipes at the root zone area for heat discharging. The lower part is installed at a depth where soil temperature is stable year-round and not affected by weather extremes, and the upper part in the target crop’s root zone just below the soil surface. The water discharged at the lower coils, heats (or cools) the crop roots, depending on the season.
By stabilising and optimising the root zone temperature with very little energy use, the technology significantly increases yields, improves quality, mitigates extreme heat and cold stress and allows for off-season planting and growing
The whole system is monitored by a 24/7 analytics system where all data around pump and header flows and pressures and roots, air and ground temperatures is sent to the cloud for review in real time from a PC or smart device.
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