"Everywhere in the world, agriculture and horticulture have a problem with water. Either there is too much, or there is too little." So says Rob van de Meer, who is involved as a business consultant with a company that seems to have a solution for those parts where there is too little water. Hungarian company Water and Soil developed the Water Retainer: a product that retains water in the soil, reducing evaporation and improving both the yield and quality of various crops. With Ferry Szovan and Ruud van der Vliet, he is now working to bring the company and this biodegradable application to the attention of potential investors. "The solution is too strong to pass up," he says.
Whether you spray it manually or mechanically or even dissolve it in irrigation water doesn't matter - the effect is the same: soil treated with Water and Soil's Water Retention product is able to retain more water than untreated soil because the water evaporates less, so to speak. "As a result, it works in two ways," Ferry explains. "On the one hand, irrigation or rainwater is retained longer in the soil, so it cannot sink. On the other hand, evaporation is also prevented at the top, as water that would evaporate from the soil is also retained by the product. There is due more water available to the plants and over a longer period of time."
Tests by the Hungarian developers behind Water and Soil show yields up to 25% higher and water use as much as 50% lower. "It is not only biodegradable but also recognized and offered by FAO for use in water-scarce regions and can be used in organic cultivation according to EU regulations," Rob continues. "The liquid concentrate is diluted with water and is fully degraded after 3 to 4 months. There is no residue in the soil, and the products are also chemical-free."
Rob and Ferry combine their background in the finance and food sectors in their enthusiasm for this product. Ruud van der Vliet adds his agribusiness knowledge to the consultancy team. "In Australia, crop sowings have doubled because there is not enough water, but closer to home, this issue is also relevant. Water shortage is already a big problem, even within Europe. In Spain, for example, or for tomato growers for the processing industry in Italy, but also as close as Germany, where growers are forced to adapt their operations to the reduced availability of water, by converting their arable farms to solar panels, for example."
"Agriculture and food are too important to be lost," Rob continues. "We see potential worldwide, in and outside agriculture: grass fields, almond trees, dates, coconut palms. But also lettuce, cereals, and other arable crops. Tests in olives provide increased production of as much as 400 liters of extra olive oil per hectare. Which equates to a 25% higher yield."
For the team, it is clear - this product deserves a wider stage. And that is where they are now hard at work. "The technology has been developed and proven, the studies have been done, and the relevance is clear. The first reasonably large order is in, but what is needed to take this company to the next level is an investor with knowledge of the sector and a desire to contribute to a sustainable solution for agriculture and horticulture."