Images via Groasis
Pieter Hoff, a lily-grower-turned-inventor, took a good look at how seeds grow in dry areas -- specifically looking at the way seeds distributed by birds can take root based on the protection and fertilization of the excrement with which it is mixed. Taking a cue from biomimicry, he created the Waterboxx, a highly intriguing way for plants in dry areas to have enough moisture to take root and survive. While it is intended for regrowing vegetation in dessert areas, it could also be a big boon for California wineries who also need to figure out ways to use as little water as possible on vineyards.
Popular Science has a great slideshow that shows the details about how the Waterboxx works, but essentially it protects seeds from the elements while they take root, trapping enough moisture from the atmosphere to keep the seedling watered but also sending moisture deep into the soil to encourage the plant to send roots far below the surface, giving it a better chance of survival over time.
Blue Living Ideas points out that the Waterboxx is being tested out in Robert Mondavi's vineyard in Napa, California, where it is expected to save the winery 145,000 gallons of water a year. For a state feeling the pinch of water, that's a big deal. California wineries are already realizing the massive impact the water crisis will have on their industry in the near future and are looking at ways to stave off a shortage of water.
The Groasis Waterboxx won Popular Science's Invention Award. Hoff is conducting experiments with 20,000 Waterboxxes in places like Pakistan and Ecuador this year, and they're already commercially available.
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More on Planting for Droughts
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How to Get Your Garden Through a Drought