The Waterboxx - A Cure for Desertification?

I have always been fascinated by the story of the ancient Roman soldiers who survived being in the desert by laying out sheepskins and each morning collecting the dew water that was caught on the wooly surface overnight. The water vapor in the air precipitated as small water drops on the fleece in the cool of the night and was wrung out in the morning.

Pieter Hoff, a Dutch 'green' inventor, utilized this principle of nature to create his celebrated Waterboxx.

Mr. Hoff was the largest grower of lilies in the Netherlands and the largest exporter of bulbs in the world when he sold his business several years ago with this stated goal:  "I wanted to leave a better world for our children."

He developed the Waterboxx, a protective shelter for young tree saplings, that catches water from the rare rain showers in the desert and more specifically from the air, in the same way that the ancient sheepskins worked. The condensated water from the air collects on the ridged surface of the  waterboxx and  is distributed in small doses to the tree inside the waterboxx. Additionally the Waterboxx protects the tree roots against sun, wind, weeds or rodents and prevents water in the topsoil from evaporating.

After a year the tree within the waterboxx is strong enough to grow by itself and the polypropylene structure can be removed and  used again 12 more times.

Hoff explains, "Trees can grow in arid areas but are not able to germinate. The WaterBoxx gives them a head start". He recently tested his invention in the Moroccan Sahara desert with the result that 90 percent of the 3500 fruit tree saplings planted with a WaterBoxx were alive and green after a few months in the extreme hot summer.  This contrasted with those trees planted without a waterboxx - there, 90 percent of the trees died even though they had been watered every week.  After three years, over 88% of the waterboxx trees are rapidly growing. Now, similar studies are ongoing in Kenya and Spain and he has chosen Napa/Sonoma and Palm Springs/Joshua Tree for his United States study.

Hoff is convinced that large parts of the earth can be reforested, without sacrificing agricultural land. The Waterboxx makes it possible to plant trees or bushes on rocks, on mountains, in burned woods, overgrazed lands, eroded areas, deserts or any other place, without the help of irrigation with a 92% planting result.

Hoff is seeking investors to apply his invention in the Middle East, India, Africa and other arid territories. Hoff maintains that "If we can reforest 2 billion hectares, the trees consume more CO2 than men produces and the whole CO2 problem will be solved."

To see a short video presentation by Pieter Hoff click here - The Groasis Waterboxx. - (All images from Aquapro)

A similar dew catching technique comes from WatAir.  Each WatAir unit features 96 square meters of lightweight dew-collecting panels that gravitationally funnel moisture from the air to one collective source. The designers, Joseph Cory of Geotectura and Eyal Malka of Malka Architects from Haifa, Israel, estimate that each unit can collect roughly 48 liters of water in remote places or places that do not have any clean water sources. The panels are flexible, easy to collapse when not in use, and readily available to provide shade and even some shelter.

All these examples remind me of that magnificent Japanese movie directed by Hiroshi Teshigahara, 'Woman in the Dunes' (砂の女, Suna no onna)..I can't explain why because then it ruins the movie for you.....


  1. Wow those clever Dutch! That looks amazing, could you imagine if they did manage to use something like this to reforest desert lands. Great story, has me thinking now. thanks

  2. Stone Art you raise a good question! I imagine the same thing. Kudos on the blog post...a good story and a great read


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