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20 million Euro invested already

Romania targets hail clouds with rockets

NFO reports that the technique isn't new, and perhaps not the best health-wise, but as of August this year Romania has had six launch- pads with silver iodine loaded rockets, with which potential hail clouds are bombarded. The country hopes to protect around 6% of the total agricultural area against hail in this way. The effectiveness of the rocket method isn't as solid as it may seem. This technique has been used for a while in Russia and China, not always with the best results.

'Cloud seeding'
Romania has been working on an effective way to protect crops since 2000. The most common method to do so is so called cloud seeding. Cloud seeding is spreading specific chemicals in cloud formation with the intent of changing rain or hail formation processes in the cloud. The most commonly used chemicals are silver iodine and potassium iodine.

Fifty countries spread across the world have cloud seeding programmes intended to suppress hail or increase rainfall. Cloud seeding is a hotly debated technique: it is said to be polluting. Silver as a metal isn't dangerous. As a chemical connection however, it is as poisonous as a lead connection.

927 rockets fired
Romania mainly uses silver iodine loaded rockets. In 2017 there were 34 operational launching platforms in Romania that covered a surface of 500,000 hectares of agricultural ground. In 2017, during the 'hail season' between April and September 927 rockets were fired from these platforms.

After an investment of 20 million Euro in 26 new systems, as of August 2018 there were 60 operational launching platforms for 870,000 hectares of crops. This is worth 6% of the total of 14.6 million hectares. The Romanian government plans to expand the network of hail suppressors to 200 launching locations that cover 8.4 million hectares of crops by 2022: 57% of the agricultural area. The programme is the responsibility of the Ministry of Agriculture, through the Authority for the Control of the National Hail Suppressing and Rainfall Increase System. The claimed effectiveness of the system is 1 to 14. That means that for every million Euro spent on the system, damage worth 14 million Euro is prevented.

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