Since diving into the deep end when it comes to energy issues, almost every day sees new fascinating concepts, approaches, and technologies. Fascinating ... exciting ... even hope inspiring at times. And, as well, as the passion builds, so many of these are truly Energy COOL.
Sometimes the most interesting things come from people contemplating natural processes and ancient practices, turning the problem around and around, and figuring out how to make those techniques work in our techno-heavy world.
People have been looking to dew collection (as a path for clean water supplies in the desert. For millenium, rock piles have provided liquid supplies keeping alive plants -- even supporting agriculture in very arid regions.
Tal-Ya Water Technologies looks to have come up with a snap and play system that will make child's play of improving arid regions' agricultural water supply and practices.
Tal-Ya Water Technologies has developed what, on first glance, looks to be one of those slap the forehead, "why didn't I think of that items" which could actually have a real impact on changing agriculture in arid regions.
- An inverted pyramid tray with a hole on the bottom which is for the plant's stem and water will fall.
- Even in the most arid regions of the world, night/day time variations will cause dew formation and condensation (from moisture that might otherwise have been lost through evaporation).
- This "dew catcher" ends up dribbling this pure, distilled water directly to the plant's roots.
Voila ... irrigation without burning up energy for getting water from elsewhere.
Having seen dew formation literally for decades, having wondered about how much water could be gathered by this, having read about dew collection projects occasionally over the past, and having grown up with at least a few years addicted to Lego, consider my forehead quite red with: "WTF didn't I think of this?"
The very simplicity of the approach (clicking together like legos) and low cost ($1 per plant, for a reusable, for ten years and then recyclable, tray) for implementation suggests that this is an item that could quickly become de rigeour for gardening and intensive farming in desert and arid regions around the world.
The trays are also made in larger sizes for trees, Avraham Tamir, the company head and inventor tells ISRAEL21c.
Not just water ...
In addition to the water supply, forget about bending over for weeding since the trays block out the sunlight.
And, the reduced water usage lowers fertilizer requirements. The combination of these means lowered groundwater contamination.
Since dew and condensation are distilled water, they reduce salinity problems from traditional irrigation.
And, the system provides some protection from extreme weather shifts, such as a sudden (and short duration) frost early in a growing season.
Back to water ...
The reported field tests are showing reduced water usage of up to 50 percent to support agricultural production.
It isn't just the "dew" and reduced evaporation, but rainfall is collected to be directly fed into the root system.
FYI -- this isn't necessarily a panacea for every location or situation.
Of course, "the amount of water collected depends on location," the inventor, Avraham Tamir points out. Humidity factors, temperatures and precipitation are important to consider.
In addition, this clearly doesn't work for all crops. Imagine wheat fields with these trays. $1 per stalk of wheat? Don't see that happening. But, for labor intensive crops like tomatoes and for trees (olives), this looks to make some real Energy CENTS.
Thinking beyond ...
Of course, this has other impacts.
Water and irrigation are one of the largest energy users in the world. Moving beyond the quite serious issues of clean water supply (and how this system could reduce agriculture's calls on stretched water supplies, leaving water for other uses (like drinking?)), this approach provides a tool for supporting quality agricultural while lowering the energy and global warming and other pollution footprints to produce food for humanity.
And, there is another potential, more out-of-the-box item: what is the potential reflectivity of these trays and the potential for them to help in moves to increase the albedo factor and help reduce warming globally. In other words, my head is spinning with the potential.
PS: For those who don't speak Hebrew, Tal-Ya means "God's dew".
PS2: Not sure and wondering how (or if) this plays with desert permaculture
Hat tip to Green Prophet (which is, FYI, a pretty interesting/good blog re environment and energy in the Middle East).