Mexican farmers have been fighting drought with Solid Rain for more than a decade, but the powdered water designed by chemical engineer Sergio Jésus Rico Velasco only hit the American market last year. A highly absorbent substance with a potassium base, Solid Rain stores one liter of water in just 10 grams!
Velasco spent years developing a solution that would help Mexican farmers produce crops in drought-stricken parts of the country before he struck liquid gold with Solid Rain, according to Modern Farmer.
He was inspired by diapers, which hold a lot of moisture in a small amount of space, but it was also essential to devise a substance that would not be harmful to crops.
Once water is added to the granulated potassium polyacrylate, it turns into a thick gel that retains its moisture for up to one year.
“…it will not evaporate, run off into the soil or go anywhere until it’s consumed by a plant’s roots. Think of it like a little powdered reservoir,” writes Modern Farmer.
The Mexican government ran a season-long test pilot to ascertain the product’s efficacy, and the results were outstanding.
Oatmeal yields doubled compared to crops planted without Solid Rain, sunflower yields tripled, and bean yields increased from 450 kg per hectare to a staggering 3,000 kg.
But how does it work?
“The incorporation of solid rain in the soil improves its structure and moisture holding capacity, this reduces leaching and improves water and nutrient availability to plants,” according to company literature.
“With the use of solid rain, the water requirements can be minimized due to the reduction of losses by percolation or evaporation,” they added.
“The interval between irrigations can be doubled, tripled or more. Additionally, the extra reserve of water in the soil prevents plants from water stress. This is especially important in areas or periods with low precipitation.”
Sound suspicious? We thought so too, but its developers swear that the product is non-toxic. What’s more, it soaks right into the soil, preventing runoff, which means just about every drop of water is spared.
“We’ve been providing this product to farmers for over 12 yrs and found there are no long term effect [sic] while using Solid Rain,” a company representative wrote in a response to a Modern Farmer reader’s comment.
They added that the product has been tested and approved by the FDA.
While that may not provide much assurance given the FDA’s record of approving a slew of dubious foods and medicines, world water woes are such that the product, which has twice received recognition from the Stockholm International Water Institute and received the Ecology and Environment award from the Fundacion Miguel Aleman, is definitely worth a try.