Mexico has the harshest and driest of weathers in the world, and during the years with scarce rains their agricultural sectors suffer a lot. Keeping that in mind, a Mexican chemical engineer created a product you surely would not have heard about!
The magic product that aims fend off the effects of droughts is called “Solid Rain”, which has been helping Mexican farmers in the tough times for over a decade. It is an amazing powered polymer, which has super absorbent properties and can suck water 500 times its original weight while being able to retain it for a very long time!
This concept has been previously known as the “super slurper” when it was designed back in 1970’s in the US for being used in the disposable diapers of babies. But for the first time, the idea was taken to a new step by the Mexican chemical engineer who made it into “Solid Rain”.
The engineer, Sergio Rico Velasco, modified the diaper absorbent powder and developed a different version of potassium polyacrylate which could be used in agriculture. The power can be mixed with soil and once it has been fed with enough water, it can slowly drain it out to feed the plants over a long period of time.
Sergio claims that just 10 grams of Solid Rain powder are capable of absorbing up to a litre of water. Upon absorption, the powder turns into a thick translucent gel; keeping the water from evaporating or quickly flowing back into the soil. So in essence, the gel starts acting as a long term fresh water reservoir exclusively for the plant roots.
The powder doesn’t need to be frequently reapplied, as the company claims it can last from 8 to 10 years in the soil. In a study conducted over a year by the Mexican government, farming plots in a semi-arid area that used Solid Rain produced over 300 percent more crops than the natural plots. In a plot growing sunflower, the yield was 3000 kg per hectare with Solid Rain as compared to just 1000 kg in regular conditions. In another plot, a yield of 3000kg of beans was grown using Solid Rain when compared to just 450 kg without it.
The product has been quite a hit among the farmers of Mexico, but due to lack of marketing, it hasn’t been very popular in other parts of the world. However, media articles like this one will ensure that the product gets the coverage it deserves, and already the company has had requests from other dry countries like India and Australia.
The creators claim that their product is not toxic and is made from a bio-arylamide. So after it has run its course, the gel disintegrates into powder-like substance becomes part of the plant.
There has been some criticism from people like Chalker Scott who say that the company has still to prove the claim that it can keep the water for a year. Also, he argues that in case the gel begins to dry, it will start to soak in more water meaning they will be taking water directly from the plant roots, in essence destroying them.
But the real-life success of the product proves otherwise. Some farmers in the Mexico, Sinaloa have started to use the product even when there is no drought, claiming that the production increased by 50%. Solid Rain has been nominated for the Flobal Water Award twice and has also won the Ecology and Environment Award from the Fundacion Miguesl Aleman.
Would you consider using Solid Rain on your farms right away, or are you still a little speculative about its effects?