A company out of Holland recently used bird poop as the inspiration for a new device designed to grow trees in eroded, arid and rocky environments.
Some of the most efficient and successful technological designs are those that imitate the processes Mother Nature has been using for millions of years. This type of design is called “biomimicry” and it’s a great way to solve environmental problems cheaply and effectively.
The Groasis Waterboxx was introduced by AquaPro Holland, a private company founded by the inventor Pieter Hoff. The device is modeled after the way that birds will pass plant seeds through their digestive system, depositing them on top of (not under) the soil with a healthy dose of natural fertilizer wherever they might be flying at the moment. The excrement forms a protective covering for the seed, and prevents water in the soil from evaporating.
In a similar way, the Groasis Waterboxx is an “intelligent water incubator” that produces and captures water from the air through condensation and rain. The condensation is caused by artificial stimulation and the water is captured because of the design of the device, without using energy.
Even in harsh climates, growing trees on rocks or in deserts is not a problem. Planting and germinating — protecting the tree through the planting period until it gets its water from the capillary — is the problem. That is what the Groasis Waterboxx solves.
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The device was tested for 3 years in the Sahara desert by the Mohammed I University of Oujda in Morocco, with astounding results. According to the Groasis website, “trees that were planted during the summer with the Groasis Waterboxx survived well. The trees planted were measured and showed an average growth of more than 90 percent in length within the first year. The test without the Groasis Waterboxx was watered on a weekly basis but 90 percent of the trees still died.”
Gizmag reports that “this fecally-inspired device could ultimately be responsible for reforesting billion of acres of parched land, and it just won Popular Science’s Best Invention 2010 award.”
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