IMPACT JOURNALISM DAY 2015: ENVIRONMENT

Saving water with 'solid rain'

Solid rain being mixed with water. The compound can store 300 times its weight in water and allows farmers in Mexico to continue farming during dry seasons.
Solid rain being mixed with water. The compound can store 300 times its weight in water and allows farmers in Mexico to continue farming during dry seasons. PHOTO: EXCELSIOR (MEXICO)

This story was first published on June 20, 2015

FARMERS often look to the sky for rain when the drought season sets in.

But they now have another alternative - "solid rain" invented by Mexican scientist Sergio Jesus Rico Velasco.

The magic of "solid rain", a compound based on potassium acrylate, is that it can store 300 times, even 500 times, its own weight in water because of its molecular structure.

The product, which looks like white powder sugar, is made of ultra­absorbent potassium polyacrylate which Mr Rico Velasco and other scientists call "water silos".

This is how it works: Mix 20g of "solid rain" with one litre of water, and add it to the soil before planting the seeds.

Mr Velasco, who was nominated for the World Water Prize in 2012, said it can be used in all soil conditions and with all kinds of plants.

It produces no chemical reactions with pesticides or fertilisers because "it's just water".

According to Solid Rain Corporation from San Diego, California, the product is capable of saving between 50 per cent and 80 per cent of water, depending on the climate and soil conditions.

CLAUDIA VILLANUEVA/EXCELSIOR (MEXICO)

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 15, 2016, with the headline 'Saving water with 'solid rain''. Print Edition | Subscribe