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The Waterboxx can help to alleviate food crises, lower CO2 emissions and bring fruit growers back to man-made deserts through the efficient use of water.
Pieter Hoff, a former flower exporter and founder of Groasis, decided to invent something that would hinder the water tables from dropping. For more than 10 years, he worked to develop a new way of planting that he called Groasis Technology. His main product, The Waterboxx, is a plant growing system for use in, what he calls, “man-made deserts”.
Hoff explained that for a plant to grow, it needs a 30-inch broad hole of space with 10 inches of depth and 40 liters of water to create a “capillary column”. In addition to this, he discovered that most of the plants that are currently bought from nurseries have a modified main root that affects the way they grow. By using the Waterboxx, the main root of the plant is “pruned” so that it grows horizontally, can anchor itself to the ground and then reach down to the water table. After one year, the grower can remove the Waterboxx and he or she will be left with a healthy self-sustaining tree that will continue to grow for many years.
When I asked Hoff what he believes are some challenges for Groasis in the near and distant future, he said, “I think that both the near and distant future will bring one big challenge for me. Creating a belief that we can do what I am preaching is going to be the hardest challenge”. He said that it is not a secret that people that currently live in the desert areas are generally poor. So another challenge for him is to convince these growers who need instant cash flows to survive that they should start using the Waterboxx. One of his goals is to start manufacturing the Waterboxx locally to reduce costs and transfer those savings to his customers.
The original idea started back in 2000 when Hoff worked in flower exportation and many of his suppliers were complaining about the dropping water tables they relied upon for drip irrigation. He traveled around the world and found that water levels were diminishing all over the place. As a natural born environmental and socially entrepreneur, he set out to find a solution for this problem by identifying an alternative way of planting.
Hoff was motivated by his main goal of reforesting the man-made deserts around the world. The benefits of doing this are endless and are very important to him. His passion is evident when he speaks about his innovation. He invented the Groasis Waterboxx with the intention to have farmers around the world use it to grow plants where they were once able to grow and make a profit. He is very committed to his missions of reforesting dry areas around the world, reducing CO2 emission and reducing the water needed to irrigate plants. His box provides the plant protection from climate, pest and generates a constant supply of water by using the water in the air. Ultimately, Hoff wants to feed the hungry by using his technology to plant fruit trees around the world. He closed our talk with a quote from his book, The Tree Solution, “if an area was once green and we were able to cut it, then the area can be green again, as we are able to replant it”.
This innovation has many benefits for both business and society. Hoff told me that “one of the most important things to think about when inventing something, is to create a benefit for the user of your product”. In this case, the user makes money by planting trees. In the meantime, the environment will benefit as well. Trees can give us fruits, lumber, oil and extracts that can be sold and will generate revenue for the grower. With no irrigation and 90% survival rate, the Waterboxx diminishes costs for the growers and gives them higher revenue.
Hoff is working on worldwide issues that could be solve with replanting dry areas around the world. He stated that when started this project in 2003 over 2 billion hectares were “man-made deserts”. By this, he meant that humans had depleted the green out of these hectares of land. He told me that if these hectares were once arable then, if done the right way, replanting these strips of land would bring the green back.
He told me that each hectare, if planted with fruit trees, can generate 5 tons of food. Multiply this by the 2 billion hectares of deserted land, and that is a lot of food, which can be help solve the food problem.
The “climate problem” is the CO2 molecules in the air that harm our environment. He said that, on average, an acre of trees could unbind 2 tons of CO2 annually so if all 2 billion hectares were planted, that would be a lot of CO2 removed from the atmosphere.
In the short term, he mentioned that his innovation could restore the possibility for families to migrate back to rural arid areas. Long-term unemployment can be lowered as planting trees creates a job per hectare. In the long run, 2 billion extra jobs will be created.
Growers are able to make a profit by growing fruit and vegetable plants in deforested and deserted areas.
Employment, reforestation, sustainable water practices, and poverty alleviation.
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Pieter Hoff, Founder of Groasis