This simple passive water-harvesting device takes advantage of one attribute that most deserts have — a major temperature differential between night and day.
Dew is created at night when the tiny amount of moisture in the air condenses on semi-permeable surfaces like leaves. As soon as the sun rises, the dew quickly burns off and returns back to the air. But the ingenious little Waterboxx channels the dew to a collection tank where it helps the young roots of a sapling get established.
Eventually the roots become strong enough to seek their own water deep underground.
Pieter Hoff, the Dutch inventor of the Waterboxx, recently completed a study in a desert in Morocco. The results were astonishing. With next to no care whatsoever, 100 percent of the trees in a Groasis Waterboxx survived, and nearly 90 percent were thriving. Contrast that with a standard tree-planting effort in which only 10 percent of the trees survived.
Likened to a “water battery,” the Waterboxx is a passive drip irrigation system, slowly wicking a trickle of the water it collects into the tree’s fledgling root system.
While there is no doubt that our #1 environmental priority is to prevent further deforestation — the leading cause of greenhouse gas emissions — the Groasis provides a glimmer of hope on the horizon for preventing climate change (while restoring water supplies and building soil fertility) in regions that seem beyond hope.
Note: The current Waterboxx is made out of polypropylene, but the company is working on a biodegradable version that decomposes as soon as roots have been established.