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Rain stimulation project to combat drought effects achieves 98 percent effectiveness in Mexico

Christian Fernsby |
The main impact on the target population, which comprises eight million hectares, is the increase in plant coverage, since scrub and grasslands are already being observed that will be used for extensive livestock farming.

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The rain stimulation project, through which the Rainmate reagent is sprayed on the clouds to promote precipitation, has been 98 percent effective, since rain has been recorded in 71 of the 72 flights carried out in the six states where it was launched, reported the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development.

The federal agency, through the National Commission of Arid Zones (Conaza) and with the support of the Mexican Air Force (FAM), started the project last June in Sinaloa, Sonora and Chihuahua, with the aim of mitigating the effects of the drought in agriculture and livestock of these entities, for the benefit of agricultural and livestock producers.

A month later, the project was extended to the states of Coahuila, Zacatecas and Durango, which have also been affected by the drought that mainly affected the north of the country.

According to the Conaza report, the rain stimulation flights are reaching the number scheduled for a dry season. On September 7, the last flight was made in Sinaloa, after 26 successful flights.

In Chihuahua, 22 flights have been carried out out of a possible total of 26, given the stock of reagents at the site and the availability of airplanes; In Torreón, Coahuila they have added 10 flights and in Sonora there have recently been no conditions for flights, so they remain at 14.

So far, the highest accumulated precipitated rain corresponds to 3,740.22 cubic hectometres, generated by the 26 flights in Sinaloa, followed by Chihuahua with 1,614.02, in 22 flights; Sonora, 1,016.71 and 14 flights, while in Coahuila and Zacatecas 299.50 cubic hectometres have been accumulated in 10 events.

This implies that 6,670.45 cubic hectometres have been registered in total in the reference polygons, through 72 flights, where only one has not been successful, which marks 98.64 percent of effectiveness, the federal agency said.

Agriculture highlighted that the first results when comparing the "excesses of rain" caused by the application of the reagent, show increases greater than those estimated at the beginning of the season, which were 20 percent.

Thus, the "excesses of rain" have been higher than 40 percent, based on the comparison between the values ​​predicted by the meteorology team and the values ​​recorded in the rain gauges installed in order to make an accounting.

The main impact on the target population of Conaza, which comprises eight million hectares, is the increase in plant cover in relation to the initial condition, since scrublands and grasslands are already observed that will be used for extensive cattle ranching.

It also benefits rainfed agriculture, trees and bodies of water, coupled with the increase in the storage levels of the dams contemplated in the stimulation polygons.

In addition, it has contributed to the fight against forest fires in three entities of the country, since at the beginning of the project in Chihuahua - last June - there were 25 fires that required priority attention, of which three were located in Protected Natural Areas (ANP), same that were extinguished in a period of 10 days.

The fires in Chihuahua, in addition to others that occurred in the states of Sonora and Sinaloa, were put out in the third week of June thanks to the stimulation of clouds to promote rains.

The federal agency explained that the project consists of releasing silver iodide molecules in the clouds to precipitate the rain and in this way help the dams and basins to receive the liquid.

The objective is to recover soil moisture to promote the growth of food for livestock, the sowing of rainfed crops and in a collateral way, runoff is expected to the dams, which will benefit a greater number of producers in the states. involved.

The Secretariat recalled that the FAM contributed two King Air 350i aircraft to the project, with immediate reaction capacity for the operating conditions required, in addition to having experienced pilots.

The planning and scheduling of this type of flight is carried out from the analysis of the meteorological conditions by meteorologists from both dependencies supported with information obtained through mobile applications and satellite images.

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