The company Responsive Drip Irrigation (RDI) invented an irrigation system that communicates directly with plants to provide them with what they need exactly.
When plants need water and nutrients, they emit a particular chemical to uptake what they require from the surrounding soil. The technology, called GrowStream, uses tubes that can sense those chemicals and release water and nutrients through billions of “smart micropores.” Once the plants have had enough, they stop emitting the chemical, and the technology’s pores close until the plants need irrigation again.
The company has installed this irrigation system in 14 different countries so far. For instance, in the dry areas of Pakistan, vegetables like tomatoes and bok choy grow 81% faster and twice as large than with regular drip irrigation. Also, in Los Angeles, RDI works with the city to irrigate green spaces while using 45% to 50% less water than drip irrigation.
Why does it matter? Water is more and more scarce around the globe because of global warming. Growing food in dry climates where water is rare is crucial for the survival of billions of people. Moreover, in highly-populated cities, green spaces are essential to avoid heat islands and improve overall well-being.
In this context, RDI’s technology revolutionizes irrigation in the face of global warming, droughts and water shortages.