Published On: Tue, Apr 22nd, 2014

Promoting fruit and vegetable cultivation through new technologies

WhitemanWILLEMSTAD – Curacao is going to try to give the cultivation of fruits and vegetables on the island a boost by using techniques.

Minister of Public Health and Environment and Agriculture, Dr. Ben Whiteman will soon start with a pilot project to introduce the so called Groasis Waterboxx.

The Groasis Waterboxx is a device designed to help grow trees in dry areas. It was invented and developed by Dutch former flower exporter Pieter Hoff, and won the Popular Science Green Tech Best of What’s New Innovation of the year award for 2010. Pieter Hoff has written "The Blue CO2 Booklet: CO2 a Gift From Heaven,"in which he proposes to plant trees to solve problems with CO2 emissions to the earth's atmosphere.

Large land areas in the world are too dry for trees to survive. Although water may be present in the ground, it is often too deep for small trees to develop a root structure to reach.The Groasis Technology is a biomimicry technology that consists of: 1) improving the soil with my corrhizae 2) leaving the capillary structure intact 3) using plants with appropriate types of primary roots 4) the use of the waterboxx and if necessary when planting on rocks 5) the use of the capillary drill. The technology is a copy of how nature solves the problem of planting plants in deserts, eroded areas, badlands and on rocks. This way it gives the possibility to replant deserts or eroded areas, restore the vegetation cover and make them productive with fruit trees and vegetables.

The Groasis is a polypropylene bucket with a lid. It has a vertical tunnel in the middle for two plants. A wick allows water from inside the box to trickle into the ground. The devicemimics the insulating effect bird feces provide to germinating seeds.

As of 2010, the development has taken 7 years at a cost of $7.1 million.

Use of the box initially involves digging a hole in the ground by a human or a machine. One to three plants are planted in the hole, and a cardboard panel is placed around the plants. A wick is inserted in the bottom of the Groasis which is then lowered over the plants and filled with water. Two lids are put on, funnels inserted and a cap plugs the top lid.

The product functions as a plant incubator, sheltering both a newly planted sapling and the ground around it from the heat of the sun, while providing water for the plant. The lid collects water from rain and nighttime condensation, which is then stored in the bucket. The water-filled Groasis releases small amounts (around 50 ml per day) of water into the ground by a wick to water the tree and to encourage the tree to develop a root structure. The box acts as a shield for the water in the upper ground, and this water then spreads down and out instead of being drawn to the surface and evaporated.Both temperature and humidity beneath and inside the box are more stable night and day than without.

The box has been tested for 3 years at Mohamed Premier University in Morocco where nearly 90% of plants survived with the box compared to 10% without. Apart from projects in warm arid areas, the box is being tested in wineries and cold mountain regions. The Waterboxx is also being used to grow water loving trees in temperate regions, including growing giant Sequoia (Sequoidendron Giganteum) in the Great Lakes Region.

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