Julie M. Rodriguez

Company Aims to Defeat Drought with Powdered "Rain"

by , 09/04/13

solid rain, powdered rain, drought, irrigation, agriculture, climate change, arid climates, dry climates

Amid concerns about global climate change and changing weather patterns, one company is trying to find a new way to irrigate crops in an age of increasing water instability. “Solid Rain” is an incredibly absorbent powder that can store enormous amounts of water in the soil, allowing crops to grow easily in arid conditions. The best part? It’s completely nontoxic and biodegradable.

solid rain, powdered rain, drought, irrigation, agriculture, climate change, arid climates, dry climatesImage (c) Bert Kaufmann

Solid Rain is made from bio-acrylamide, a cornstarch-based polymer you’re probably most familiar with as the absorbent ingredient in disposable diapers. It’s powerful stuff: just 10 grams of the material can hold a liter of water. The creator of Solid Rain, Mexican chemical engineer Sergio Jesus Rico Velasco, has been quietly selling a version of the powder that can be mixed with arid soil to slowly feed plants in his home country for about 10 years. Now he’s poised to start marketing the product to countries like India and Australia, backed by government tests that show soil mixed with Solid Rain can increase crop yields by up to 300%.

There are a few concerns about the use of Solid Rain — mainly that it’s expensive and may not work quite as well as advertised. The company recommends using 50kgs per hectare of land, an amount that runs about $1,500. While Velasco claims it can last 8 to 10 years in the soil, some scientists say the gel doesn’t last that long and can end up actually drying out the crops planted in it over time. While more studies need to be done to see just how useful Solid Rain really is, mulch may turn out to be a cheaper and equally effective alternative.

+Solid Rain

Via BBC News

Lead image (c) Solid Rain

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