Farmers in drought-prone climates may soon have an alternative for growing crops whenever Mother Nature isn’t working in their favor.
A greenhouse designed by the organization Roots Up has dual benefits when water is scarce: It can water itself and produce safe drinking water. The design was inspired by the plight of Ethiopian farmers who often struggle with little to no rainfall for six months at a time, Fast Company reported. Additionally, only 49 percent of the Ethiopian population has access to safe drinking water, according to USAID.gov.
The greenhouse works in tandem with the outside climate. As the temperature rises during the day, the heat causes water to evaporate from plants inside the greenhouse. Once the temperature drops in the evening, the top of the greenhouse is opened with ropes, causing the surface to cool and water vapor to condense into droplets of dew. The droplets then fall into a water tank container where it is stored and reused for irrigation or to drink. Roots Up estimates that the greenhouse can collect 200 L. (about 53 gal.) of water during the dry season and up to 700 L. (about 185 gal.) during the wet season.
According to Fast Company, the designers of the greenhouse plan to help farmers grow a rotation of crops including lentils, kale and a variety of herbs and flowers that deter plant-eating vermin. Farmers have the option of harvesting the water for human consumption as well. Fundraising is currently underway on Indiegogo to build a demonstration greenhouse.
Top photo courtesy of the Roots Up Facebook page