Today's featured Invention Award winner is the Groasis Waterboxx, which waters plants without irrigation.
Dutch flower exporter Pieter Hoff often spent nights in his beloved lily fields to monitor them. One evening, he noticed that the first droplets of morning condensation were collecting on the leaves of his lilies well before midnight.
Invention: Groasis Waterboxx
Inventor: Pieter Hoff
Cost: $7.1 million
Time: 7 years
Is It Ready Yet? 1 2 3 4 5
The plants lost heat to the air at night, and the cool surface of the leaves sucked water droplets from the warm, humid air. Nature’s watering system, Hoff thought, is incredibly efficient. So in 2003, he sold his business and began developing a planter that could capture water the same way plants do and foster saplings in the harshest conditions.
Today, one third of the world’s population lives where water is scarce or of poor quality, a number that’s expected to jump to two thirds by 2025. Making matters worse, in some areas deforestation and overfarming have led to eroded soil that can no longer support many crops. Hoff designed his Groasis Waterboxx with this in mind—it’s a plant incubator that’s made from plastic or a biodegradable material and designed to cool faster than the night air, like his lilies. The box is coolest at its top, the part that has the most contact with the open air. Water condenses on the cover and flows down into a small holding tank, where it’s trapped, along with any rainwater. The collected water and the box itself keep the plant and its roots hydrated and protected.
Hoff is hoping to recruit people to buy a few Waterboxxes from his Web site (groasis.com) to see how the invention works in other regions he hasn’t reached. “Everywhere you look, there’s space to plant,” he says. “But I can’t do this alone.”
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