With respect to the commercial market rather than the ‘Aid’/ Environmental imperative, the non seed version called the EcoH2O has the potential to satisfy a growing and huge demand for cheap, available, and clean fresh water to major urban city areas around the world, particularly within say 100 kilometres from the sea shores.
Naturally, this technology can be used far from the sea wherever inland lakes or rivers are part of the local geography. Further afield, where sources of water are not readily accessed, this concept can be used to trap infrequent rain as well as pumped water from small or mini- dams built in many arid countries.
In order to ensure that this particular source of water is not compromised by, for instance, siltation caused by soil erosion of bare hillsides, the application of the tubular version of the Ecosphere technology laid or contoured round the hillside to catch the rain water to allow bush / grass / tree seeds / seedlings to germinate and establish on the hillsides, is required.
The Ecosphere technology is designed to allow strips of the tubular version to be laid on farms, whether in the Midwest of North America, China, India or the village farmer in the Sahel region of Africa. The technology has an internal hydroponics mechanism to drip feed the crop seeds impregnated in the tube strip along with the necessary nutrients to help in its healthy growth ready for harvesting.
In this way, there is a minimal amount of water spillage and this has several advantages:
Logging companies will find the ‘pod’ and ‘strip’ versions a useful means of both cheaply and quickly allowing for the sustainable redevelopment of deforested rainforrests that they chop down. Apparently it is more convenient to move on without accepting their responsibilities towards replanting.
The reasons for this are largely due to the logistics of setting up seedling nurseries close to their logging operations, cost of transporting them and the fact that it is labour intensive. Furthermore, once the seedlings are planted and the loggers move on, they know that a substantial proportion of the seedlings will die due to a lack of water which negates the whole point of their financial investment and incentive to re-plant.
In terms of planting fast growing trees for logging as soon as possible for both the paper and furniture industries, this technology allows for a much more controlled yet cheaper way to achieve their economies of scale.
Indeed, the same argument applies to the big fruit and crop plantation industries, however, the need for large numbers of caretakers as at present will probably continue to remain. Still, as with the farming industry, considerable savings in chemical and pesticides should be quickly apparent given the appropriate amounts will be applied at manufacture.
Agroforestry in general will find this new technology a useful compliment to conventional practices, especially since the emerging scientific advances in producing vaccines of genetically engineered agro-bacteria into fruits, crops and trees is clearly showing promise as a cheap and user friendly way to allow poor countries to develop suitable drugs in order to improve the health of their people, particularly children.
Another industry that I believe shows considerable promise, is the relatively new field of so-called ‘Energy or Biofuel Crops’. One in particular, is that of alternative renewable fuels although I would prefer to consider ‘alcohol fuel’ as a compliment to the fossil fuel industry as it will always be relatively small compared to the normal source of global fuels. Indeed, the political and public mood is slowly moving toward a more ‘greener’ source of environmentally friendly fuel energy to power the car for instance, while the manufacturers are making a considerable effort toward meeting this challenge. Biofuels additives are one way of doing so.