Engineers from the University of Texas at Austin have created a new type of soil that has the potential to bring in water from the air and distribute it to plants. The project is comprised of an atmospheric water irrigation system that is based on super moisture absorbent gels, known simply as SMAG.
The SMAG-soil harvests water from the air during cooler periods overnight and captures it for later use. Once the soil is heated to a certain point during the day the SMAG will release the stored water and make it available to plants. The work was recently published back in October in American Chemical Society Materials Letters. The experiments show that if the SMAG-soil is mixed into dry, sandy soils, the gels can increase water availability for long periods, thus allowing plants to grow in otherwise dry conditions.
Listen to the radio report below.