Everyone knows rain in the desert is rare - that is what defines a desert. However, when the rare rains do come, the ground is frequently so inhospitable to water that flooding results, and the water quickly rushes away back to rivers and streams toward the ocean. We are unable to use the water for irrigation purposes, and the vegetation that would be able to use it is frequently swept away.
Is there a way to harvest this rainfall, all while slowly flash flooding? We know trees slow the speed which rainfall reaches the ground with their leaves force the water to slowly percolate down to the ground. Also, trees planted along waterways (called riparian buffers) serve as physical barriers to water rushing into already swollen streams. Tree roots also loosen the soil, allowing compacted desert earth (called hardpan) to accept water rather than running it off like glass. So, clearly planting more trees in the desert would be a valid way to help with flood control.
However, trees don't easily get established in the desert. As mentioned, most rainfall comes in a very short period in the desert, and the ground does not absorb it. This process is explained in the video below.
So, trees (and other plants) need a stored source of water to continue living after the monsoon-like rains disappear. For this purpose, a device called the Groasis Waterboxx was invented. The Groasis Waterboxx is a self-refilling water battery for trees, a dew and rain collector that stores water and slowly releases it to the roots of a growing plant. The principles of the Waterboxx are explained below.
Since the Waterboxx can be completely refilled with just 4 inches of rain, once yearly monsoons can provide much of the water a tree needs. In fact, the Waterboxx had an 88-99% success rate sustaining young trees for one year in the Sahara desert planting trial.
After the tree grows and gets almost too large for the Waterboxx, the Waterboxx can be removed and reused for other trees for up to ten years. The Waterboxx planted tree will have deep roots that reach underground capillary water, allowing it to survive the periods between rains without dying. The deep roots also prevent the tree from being washed away during storms, a serious problem with store bought trees with shallow roots.
Dew Harvest® LLC was started because we saw the incredible value of the Waterboxx, and we hoped to encourage its use in the United States. We believe huge numbers of trees could be established with this device, storing carbon, mitigating floods, providing food for wildlife and profit and enjoyment to landowners. Learn more about the Waterboxx, or buy the Waterboxx here.
You can see all our blog posts about planting trees with the Waterboxx here.
If you would like to learn how to grow plants without watering with the Waterboxx, the best resource is the book The Waterboxx Gardener: How to Mimic Nature, Stop Watering, and Start Enjoying Your Garden available here on Amazon.com.