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To ensure democratization of growth light assisted hydroponics systems and penetration for a mass movement in Urban Farming.

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Growing Corn in the Desert (Sharjah, UAE)

VeggiTech / Precision Agriculture  / Growing Corn in the Desert (Sharjah, UAE)

Growing Corn in the Desert (Sharjah, UAE)

Zea mays (Corn) are one of the most significant cereal crops cultivated after rice and wheat. Corn is well known as a ‘poor man’s Nutri cereal’ due to its high carbohydrates, fats, proteins and important vitamins and minerals. The grain of the fresh sweet maize is a great source of vitamins C, E and B, and some minerals and is attractive options for consumers. It also has ferulic acid, which has a wide series of healing effects against cancer, diabetes, and cardiovascular, neurodegenerative diseases and high antioxidant activity. It also demands high energy micronutrient-rich food, being cultivated worldwide. In most of the developing countries the corn is used for food production, and in developed countries is used it for industrial purposes. The nutritional value of sweet corn kernels is about 72% is of water, total biomass 27.3%,  hydrocarbons (81%), proteins (13%), lipids (3.5%) and others (2.5%) and the dominant hydrocarbon component is starch.

Drought and heat stresses are the most important abiotic stress faced by maize, grown in a semi-arid, tropical and temperate environment and an annual average yield loss estimate 15% on a global basis. Therefore, heat stress both alone and in combination with drought stress is likely to become an increasing challenge to maize production.

Zea mays L (Sweet Corn- Sugar-75) were cultivated in the arid land of VeggiTech Arabia FZE at Sharjah, United Arab Emirates. It was observed that the desert soil treated with different fertilizers and irrigated with various mineral nutrients through drip irrigation has a significant advancement in the growth, development and yield production and the number of cobs. It is necessary to improve agricultural productivity, in a sustainable way, against unfavorable environmental conditions. Therefore, the large scale production of Zea mays L. (Sweet Corn- Sugar-75) in desert soil is used with advanced fertigation techniques for the high corn yield by drip irrigation methods. Maize seedlings is transplanted after 20 days of growth to the plot, the average number of Maize crop is 10000 to 12000 per hectare. The irrigation water was mixed with the water soluble essential macro and micronutrients based on the soil analysis report. The result observed that the plant height (202.6 cm), with 10 to 14 leaves during four-month growth, with average cobs length 25 to 28 cm, cob diameter (6 -7cm2), and cobs weight (505.3gm).

The total fresh yield of the sweet corn is 9.5 ton/acre in the arid land of Sharjah, United Arab Emirates during October 2020 to January 2021. The yield and yield losses were found under poor fertigation, irrigation, and climatic changes. So compare to the yield of previous maize cultivation on summer season in the same plot, we achieved a 30 to 40 percent more yield during the period of October to January 2021. The study suggests that large scale production of sweet corn can cultivate in arid-land of the United Arab Emirates with advanced fertilization and drip irrigation for the production of quality cobs.

Author: Dr. Unnikannan.P
Expert in Leafy Greens & Senior Researcher in Hydroponics

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