During the day, the greenhouse keeps the hot air trapped inside, causing it to remain humid. (Roots-Up)
Growing food is a constant, ongoing struggle in many parts of Africa.
In lands surrounding the massive Sahara Desert, water can be exceedingly scarce. Crops face tremendous obstacles. Hunger is a real and present threat.
That’s why an exciting new greenhouse design, being developed in Ethiopia, is blooming into a minor Internet sensation.
The Roots-Up greenhouse, which captures the morning dew as it condenses, using it to irrigate crops, is still very much in development. But a bumper crop of online excitement over the idea is already blooming.
“Here in Ethiopia, it rains two or three months a year, and after that it’s very dry,” says greenhouse designer and company co-founder Bassel Jouni.
“Many local farmers find difficulty in conserving that rain.”
But Jouni knows well that rain is not the only source of water in his homeland.
“In the early morning, in the desert, you will find dew drops everywhere,” he explains.
Jouni says this is especially true close to oceans, which are massive and inexhaustible sources of humidity. But he also notes that dew does not merely hug the shorelines.
“In the end, water is still carried by air. Wherever you go, there is still water in the air. For example, in Morocco, it is very dry. It will not rain, but it’s humid. In the desert, there is nothing stopping the wind from the ocean from taking all its humidity to the desert.”
At night, the farmer opens the top allowing it to cool, and water droplets form on the surface. (Roots-Up)
The Roots-Up greenhouse can also harness and redirect condensation, a frequent and difficult problem for growers. The ongoing development process is geared to collecting and harnessing moisture, in whatever form it may appear.
But it is not fully ready yet. Jouni expects a new prototype to be ready in the coming weeks.
Roots-Up does not have the kind of reach or potential to help large-scale agriculture. But if you live in an arid place, and want an innovative way to maximize your greenhouse yield, this is certainly something to keep an eye on.
This system allows farmers to harvest water used as safe drinking water and irrigation. (Roots-Up)
One arid place that has garnered a lot of attention recently is, quite literally, out of this world. In the movie “The Martian,” a stranded Matt Damon survives all alone on the Red Planet, largely thanks to a clever greenhouse he constructs. Could Roots-Up actually work on other worlds?
“On the moon, I don’t think so,” says Jouni.
“You don’t have clouds. I believe maybe on Mars, yeah, why not? You have water, you have clouds, almost the perfect conditions.
“I believe, though, we should think more of our planet before we go to Mars.”