Adelaide Airport and Southern Australian state-owned water company SA Water Environmental have successfully completed trials to show that planting alfalfa close to the runway can reduce air temperatures by more than 3°C on warm days.
The project partners will decide later this year whether to expand the trial. They have identified the potential to grow alfalfa on 200 ha of land, and a further 50–100 ha of irrigated turf near the main 3,100 m-long runway and other buildings at Adelaide Airport.
Adelaide is known for its hot, dry summers, with its daytime temperature so far this year exceeding 37°C on 12 occasions. Warmer, less dense air means that aircraft must travel faster down the runway to take off. In these conditions aircraft take-off weight must be reduced, affecting airline costs and profits.
The three-year trial involved a variety of crops, grown in a 4 ha site, 600 m south of the main 3,100 m-long runway. The site was irrigated by recycled suburban storm water stored in an underground aquifer. Alfalfa, which can be cut into hay and sold as stock feed, proved to be the most effective crop in reducing ambient temperatures.
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