Problem and solution

The problem
 
• Water is becoming more scarce and more expensive, due to draught and climate change.
• Farming uses up to 80% of available water resources in some countries.
• Farmers don’t have bargaining power with their providers nor with distribution channels, their margin is squished, due to fixed pricing on inputs and demand.
• Agriculture effluents and farm runoff are contaminated by fertilizers, pesticides and herbicides. The excess of nutrients is deriving in water eutrophication, creating algal blooms and affecting water quality, making it unsuitable for human consumption. It also affects tourism and fishing industries. e.g Lake Erie, Utah ,Galicia (Spain), China, Lake Varesse (Italy), etc…
• Most aquifers are nearly depleted, polluted, overexploited and, in some coastal areas, salinized due to sea-water intrusion or salt accumulation.
• Creating new water resources, require expensive new infrastructures: dams, basin water transfers, desalination plants, etc…
 
The Solution
 
 
PermeaPod is a tank made of porous ceramic (terra-cotta clay), which connects to existing irrigation system, and is buried next to the roots of the plant or tree.
Roots in contact or proximity with the tank, dry the soil, leeching water out of the block by capillary force.
Tank is directly connected to existing piping, and tank filling is controlled by a small mechanical float-valve, it also can be filled up manually.
 
 
 
 
  • Water consumption and fertilizer use is cut in half (average), compared to traditional surface drip systems.
  • Very close to 100% efficiency. Losses of water and fertilizer due to evaporation and deep percolation are virtually eliminated.
  • Reduction of overall Water Footprint.
  • It also reduces the use of herbicides and pesticides by not swamping the soil, thus preventing germination of weeds and proliferation of pests and diseases.
  • No pressure needed, fields do not have to be level, so it also saves energy as it requires no pump or pressure group.
  • Float valve can be separated from block without unburying it, easy maintenance. No tools needed.
  • Easy to use, just leave water running, being self regulated, no water is wasted.
  • PermeaPod prevents under and over-watering, plants never get water-stressed, so produce and fruit quality increases.
  • Easy implementation makes it beneficial to all produce and fruit farmers especially in arid and water stressed areas, indirectly benefits the public by reducing fertilizer and pesticides used in agriculture.
  • This solution has no harmful side-effects , it is fully recyclable and scalable at low quantities or full massive scale.
  • It can be used by small urban farms or huge agroindustry growers.
 

How it works

The microporous ceramic in PermeaPod tank allows the soil around it to absorb water until it reaches field capacity.
This means soil will get maximum humidity possible without wetting it. (wet feet).
 
Roots in contact or proximity with the tank, dry the soil, the diferential of hidraulic potential pulls water out of the block by capillary force.
 
Microporosity is obtained by mixing certain additives with clay during manufacture, and using kiln temperatures just below vitrification point, so desired permeability and hydraulic conductivity are achieved while maintaining mechanical strength and durability.

Potential applications

  • Irrigation of plants in agriculture, specially greenhouses and orchard crops.
  • Irrigation of gardens and terraces. irrigation of big containers.
  • In forestry, increasing survival and growth ratios when revegetating in difficult or arid areas.
  • Vermiculture and vermicomposting

Competitive advantages

  • First to market, although this technology has been known for milennia (literally), it has never been tried from an industrialized, mass produced approach. Other attempts use less efficient, unreliable hand made pottery with low yield and high production costs.
  • Defensible approach. Patent pending. Trademark.
  • Allows for mixed crops and complementary crops, even those with different water needs in the same irrigation line without any special care.
  • Has all the advantages of buried irrigation (no evaporation, less weeds ) and none of the problems: mole and rodent attack, fixed and costly installation, tendency to clog, difficult maintainance.
  • 100 % recyclable

FAQ

What are the expected savings in economical terms compared to traditional drip irrigation methods

It depends very much on local weather, kind of crop, type of soil and other factors but you can expect: Water and fertilizer. 50% reduction Weeds. 80% reduction Fungicides. 60% reduction (greenhouse) Pesticides 50% reduction. A dry surface prevents proliferation of many insects and nematodes. Energy and Labour. Difficult to estimate , a lot less pumping and filtering, depends on your current setup