How to make deserts bloom – Groasis

Capture the humidity in the air, store it in a box, and use that condensation to water plants.

High five to Dutch entrepreneur Pieter Hoff, the man behind the Groasis Waterboxx! His unique box protects plants in dry areas, harvesting water through condensation instead of relying on irrigation. The Waterboxx was just chosen as Popular Science’s innovation of the year.

I first heard about the Waterboxx earlier this year when Jim Witkin featured it in the New York Times Green Inc. blog, where Hoff described it as a “water battery” for its ability to conserve water. Then, from reading up on Hoff’s work, I discovered that his design was inspired by the way bird poop actually protects digested seeds and helps them grow. Since its time as a promising prototype, the box has become a commercially available “irrigation-free plant incubator.” A shipment of 10 Waterboxxes goes for $275.

The box has undergone successful experiments around the world. As Popular Science points out, 88 percent of the trees planted in Waterboxxes in the Sahara not only survived but thrived, compared with about 10 percent of traditionally-planted trees in the same area. Most of those unboxed trees straight-up died.

Popular Science chose the Waterboxx as its “Best of What’s New” innovation of the year because of its design as well as its potential to prevent 50 million people from having to migrate over the next several years when deforestation and over-farming negatively impact agricultural productivity.

It’s exciting to see that the box now has a biopolymer version that will provide nutrients to the ground when it biodegrades over time. The polypropylene version is supposed to last for 10 years. Hopefully by then there will still be some water left.

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