An agreement was signed on 19th October 2021 between the NSSA, the National Initiative for Agricultural Development  (NIAD), Arabian Gulf University, Agriculture and Marine Resources at the Ministry of Works, Municipalities Affairs and Urban Planning with Dutch company Smart Farm Sensing, which provides services and solutions for the agriculture sector based on intelligent sensor data, remote sensing and geospatial information.

The project aims for the early detection of red palm weevil using space technologies and the deficient or under-irrigation, all in an attempt to optimise date palm tree efficiency.

The contracted Smart Farm Sensing has technical expertise in this field, as it has implemented similar projects in the region, for example in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, he Kingdom of Morocco and the Republic of Sudan to increase crop production and quality and reduce losses in date production due to pests and inefficient irrigation.

This unique national project aims to benefit from space technology, Artificial Intelligence (AI) and the Internet of Things (IoT) technology by using it for early detection of the presence of the red palm weevil in palm trees before it spreads, which contributes to the speedy response to this insect. When it comes to palm trees, the red palm weevil is one of the most destructive pests on the planet, burrowing inside to lay hundreds of eggs that eventually kill the plants from within. The larvae that hatch from the eggs feed on the palm tissue and penetrate into the palm’s core, weakening the trunk.

The second part of the project also contributes to studying the determination of the palm’s tolerance for deficient irrigation and its impact on the quality of dates, nutritional value and reducing irrigation water waste, in addition to evaluating the use of hydrorock (water rock) to provide irrigation water for palm trees and reduce losses through what is known as deep seepage, especially under conditions of the light soil texture that characterizes the dates production areas in the Arab Gulf states and most of the dates production areas in the Arab world. The study also evaluates the experience of using soil moisture data and weather factors to manage irrigation water in integration with artificial intelligence systems and smart farm management.