Grow Trees in the Desert: WATERBOXX

June 28, 2011

We found another design solution for dew collection: WATERBOXX. Groasis waterboxx was elected Popular Science’s 2010 Best Innovation of the Year.

Waterboxx was invented by Pieter Hoff. His ideas was to help trees grow in dry environments and replant the desert. The idea is to catch rain water and dew and store it inside a plastic box. The box surrounds a little tree sapling. During the dry season, the baby tree gets additional water from the Waterboxx, allowing it grow and flourish in places that it otherwise not survive. Here’s a summary of it would work. Pieter Hoff said that his invention was like a “water battery”, storing water for a “rainy day”—or just the opposite!

It’s a good idea. But here’ how it compares to our D.R.I.P.S. project:

  • Waterboxx costs almost $40 per unit. We want to our cones to be “dirt cheap”, so even in area with low socio-economic conditions, people could still afford to use them to grow food.
  • Waterboxx stores the water in a plastic box. We designed a system that delivers the water below the evaporation layer, so it is stored in the ground.
  • Waterboxx is made out of bio-degradable plastic (this is one of the reasons it is so expensive). We want to use cheap local materials—different materials might be appropriate for different location. We also want to use recycled materials.
  • Waterboxx is designed to help trees survive the dry season in a desert. The idea to reforestation. D.R.I.P.S. is all about growing food.
  • Waterboxx is available for sale from its inventor. Our D.R.I.P.S. project is open source—anyone can use our ideas, improve on them, and pass them on to other to use.

Waterboxx sounds great. It’s very similar to Tal-Ya system designed and implemented in Israel. But the more ideas are out there, the better!

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