Root cooling tech a food security boost

Alex DruceAAP
Roots has used temperature tech to increase the harvest yield of desert-located basil.
Camera IconRoots has used temperature tech to increase the harvest yield of desert-located basil.

Root cooling technology has been used to boost the yield and lifespan of basil plants in desert conditions, with the ASX-listed firm behind the project hailing the potential for global food security.

Roots Sustainable Agricultural Technologies Limited said its recent basil trials, carried out in the Arava Desert in Israel, increased the harvest yield of basil plants by 30 per cent, and reduced mortality rates by 60 per cent compared to uncontrolled crops.

The company, which graduated from the Israel Chief Scientist Office's tech incubator program in 2016, said the trials in 40-plus degree heat follow tests in winter near the Mediterranean Coast, where basil roots were heated to increase yields by 66 per cent, and average plant size by 35 per cent.

Roots has previously run temperature control trials on cannabis crops, as well as lettuce and chives.

Chief executive Sharon Devir said the basil tests confirmed the ability to create year-round food security for producers.

"(It) saves on plant replacement costs due to reduced risk of mortality rates from volatile weather conditions," Dr Devir said.

Roots', which lists Perth as its Australian headquarters, is a collaboration between the Israel Ministry of Agriculture and the Ministry of Finance, which it said was investing $17.6 million in innovative agtech and machinery.

Roots listed on the ASX in December 2017 following a $5 million capital raising at an issue price of 20 cents.

The company's stock hit an all-time high of 67 cents in January 2018 and its shares were steady at 4.8 cents at Monday's close.

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