Popular Science, (part of the Bonnier family, our parent company), recently named the Groasis Waterboxx, a planter designed for arid conditions, as the Innovation of the Year. Designed by a Dutch flower grower, Pieter Hoff, the Groasis Waterboxx is shaped like a doughnut and filled with five gallons of water that should last an entire year.
The planter is designed to prevent evaporation, as well as capture any rain water that may fall. Each Waterboxx has a lid that cools faster than the outside air, so that the water condenses and drips back into the planter. Mimicking the protection of animal or bird excrement that protects seeds in more optimal growing conditions, the Waterboxx, which is the size of a car tire, creates a protected environment for seedlings as they grow in harsh conditions. Inside the planter, the plant is watered by a wick that drips about two tablespoons of water a day, enough to nourish the plant, but little enough so that the roots continue to grow downwards in search of additional water.
After a year, when the roots have established themselves in the dry soil, having reached additional sources of water, the planter can be lifted off and used again. If the Waterboxx takes off, it could, conceivably, significantly help reforest the planet. Hoff is offering a nonexclusive license, for the cost of a small royalty, to anyone who wishes to manufacture and distribute the Waterboxx. A biodegradable version that will feed the sapling is in the works as well.
See videos of the Waterboxx here and read more about the process on the Groasis site--the video of trees growing in Union Minera del Norte Spain, a polluted mining area, is partiularly impressive and informative.