Time For The Prize: Big Water

I inadvertently started a vigorous debate a few weeks ago with the Time for the Prize post about a shower feedback loop. That debate was on the effect of curbing household water since households make up a relatively small percentage of total use. I think we should be thinking of solutions for all parts of the problem and so this week we’ll be looking for ideas that can help conserve water in large-scale use cases. Primarily these are agricultural and industrial but if you know of others feel free to make your case.

According to the United States Department of Agriculture, about 80% of all ground and surface water is used in agriculture. I’m not particularly interested in hearing a debate on water rights and the like (there’s a rather interesting article here if you want more on that). The agriculture industry produces food, and employs a lot of people. The conflict is of course long growing season versus lack of water compounded by severe drought. Even if we could move our food production elsewhere it would be a monumental undertaking to also relocate the infrastructure supporting it. Of course we need to look to the future, but can we leverage our engineering prowess now to conserve the water that is being used right now?

Enter with an Idea

Write down your ideas for agricultural and industrial water conservation as a project on Hackaday.io. Tag the project 2015HackdayPrize. Do this by next Monday and you’re in the running for this week’s awesome prizes.

You aren’t necessarily committing yourself to finishing out the build. At this point we want to get the idea machine rolling. One good idea could spark the breakthrough that makes a real difference in the world.

This Week’s Prizes


We’ll be picking three of the best ideas based on their potential to help alleviate a wide-ranging problem, the innovation shown by the concept, and its feasibility. First place will receive a DSLogic 16-channel Logic Analyzer. Second place will receive a an Adafruit Bluefruit Bluetooth Low Energy sniffer. Third place will receive a Hackaday robot head tee.

The 2015 Hackaday Prize is sponsored by:

73 thoughts on “Time For The Prize: Big Water

  1. I want to see someone design a cheap, open-source, rugged, reasonably accurate electromagnetic flowmeter that can be built without a huge investment in tooling. The tech has been around for decades! Nothing beats a mag for water flow measurement!

  2. The problem is that water is unrealistically cheap to big ag biz. They pay a fraction of the waters worth, so there is little incentive to conserve it, or invest in infrastructure or procedures that would save it. The amount the “new way” would have to save in order to make it financially worth while to the ag biz is way to big to ever be successful – at least for now.

    Something as simple as adding a surfactant (wetting agent) to the water would easily save 10-20% of the water, but ag biz, which has known this for decades refuse to do it.

    The solution for the most part isn’t technical, it’s financial. Until big ag biz is forced to pay significant amounts of money for wasting water, they will not change.

    1. You have a point but the problem with this is that BAB (Big Agra Biz) will not pay the price of increased water costs themselves, they will happily pass them on to their customers and those least able to pay will suffer. Now if you can figure a way to make a surfactant practically free for BAB then you have something, but when prices go up the poor, unfortunately, go hungry.

      1. Always someone saying “Stick it to big business!”, most of them you cannot get through their thick skulls the simplest bit of economic reality – that EVERY expense a business has is rolled into the final price paid by the consumer. Raise taxes on business, prices go up. Raise wages, prices go up. Charge more for water, prices go up.

        The failure of so many people to know and understand this simple fact is a major failure of education. How do people “learn” the idea that individual pieces of an economy should be tweakable without having an exponential cascade through all the rest?
        It’s the opposite of tossing a rock in a pond, where a big splash peters out quickly.
        Drop a rock in the pond of an economy and it makes a small ripple that becomes a tsunami all around the shore.

        1. the “ripple” of high water prices will not destroy the economy. at most it will destroy some industries (almond) that have been taken over by speculators. Oh darn, we can’t stick it to big business because the cost of desert lettuce will go up. Better just drain our aquifers and convert vast swaths of land to a salt laden hellscape!

        2. “… EVERY expense a business has is rolled into the final price paid by the consumer. ”

          The core of the problem is that this is not at all the case with water and many other natural resource based products.

          The infrastructure and operation of water supply systems, particularly to the western United States (who are getting very thirsty these days which is why this is suddenly important in the media) has been paid for by public subsidy and national tax distribution. While this benefits the public good in the form of widespread availability of products, and lower produce and grain prices (and thus downward pressure on more inefficient water-inefficient products such as burgers and beer), the farmers/agribusinesses don’t pay the actual cost, but rather it’s distributed indirectly among taxpayers and thus there is less motivation to conserve.

          Making agribusiness pay the true cost of its production would indeed raise prices, but would also reflect the true nature of what it’s doing and provide enormous motivation to do a better job. Sadly, it’s easier to invest in Congress than in conservation. Without verging too far into political polemics, this is another case of the unintended consequences of ongoing corporate welfare benefits, and finally the consumer will pay for it one way or another.

        3. EVERY expense a business has is rolled into the final price…
          Yeah this is incorrect.

          It would only be correct if you’re looking at a sustainable, idealized model of business. Instead you have subsidies and exploitation that distort this model beyond recognition.

          All an industry needs to do is quickly exploit the given resources and maximize profits for shareholders while postponing the payment of as many overhead costs as possible. Once the costs can no longer be postponed you declare bankruptcy, change markets, and/or move on to the next endeavor. Easy examples of this can be seen all over the states with the mining industry. Billions in addition to the escrow payments already paid by the mine owners would be needed to clean up the actual damages caused by the industry leaving behind slag piles, toxic pools, and chemical runoff.

          Industries have risen and fallen, and companies within those industries have done the same thing inumerable times. When the almond business uses up the water in california beyond their needs they will move on. If opportunity exists they’ll move on to another area and we’ll import our almonds from there, likely at a very similar cost. If it isnt practical the execs will take their millions and cry all the way to the bank. The net effect is the same, leaving water resources depleted which isnt acceptable to anyone wanting to continue living there.

          1. Galane has it exactly right. Some of you other guys appear to have learned your business economics from people tha never owned or operated a successful business, let a farm or ag business (probably why they got into teaching it in the first place).

            Are almond orchards the new flavor of Villian for those whose idealism exceeds their experience. Almond ( and their shells) are valuable commodities Not only as food and fuel, but are also used in textiles. So yeah, stick it to em! Make them cry. Make them take their stupid bussiness elsewhere and then WE can just pay more to import what we already have in our back yard. Too bad about all the families that used to work for them and all the other family owned orchards that bit the dust as a result of your dumb-ass social engineering experiment. Hey but maybe after they lose their homes they can go apply for a job overseas where the trees are. Hey if you make it arbitrarily expensive enough you could probably drive the businesses that support and rely on them oversees as well. Think of all the precious water you could save then!!!

            I worked out in almond country for years. I got to know People whose Families had been growing almonds for generations. If anything they have gotten more, not less effecient. That’s not sustainability, but driving People out of business cause you think you have almond allergies is??


        4. The key word is Big. Nobody is out to take down businesses or the economy. Just to reduce the waste associated with big enterprises. So yes, let’s “Stick it to big business!” when it comes to our food supply since there will still be plenty of profit and more jobs if we have smaller more sustainable farms. Yes there are ripples associated with change, but that doesn’t mean “don’t make waves”. Change is good, especially if we’ve been doing it wrong.

          1. Sustainable also includes viable. The U.S. Currently produces more food per capita than just about anywhere in the world. Thanks in part, to industrialized farming. Can it be done better? Of course. But just as bigger isn’t automatically better, it isn’t automatically worse either. There are a lot of people starting up smaller farms and ranches and I try to support them whenever possible. But not every large ag business is the same. They are not all evil as some would have you believe.

    2. I’ve heard surfactants reduce soil microbiology. I can see how that might be the case, as many aquarium/pond algae treatments are nothing more than surfactants, and I have witnessed their effect. Maybe there’s little useful microbiology left to save in a modern farm’s chemically-drenched soil, but what about runoff to surrounding areas and waterways? Is substituting other chemicals for good ol’ fashioned H2O really a indisputable win?

    3. The problem is not that water is unpriced. The problem is that water “rights” are tied to the land, and thus are capitalised in the value of the land. Alternative systems, eg in Australia, allow water rights that are tradeable and can then be used in higher value uses, whether transferred to permanent plantings and fallowing annual crops, or transfer from ag to industrial or domestic uses. Fixing the system will be tricky. Once water is priced in this way, it can be allocated to its most valuable use.

      Also keep in mind that water carries different prices, based on its characteristics. For example, characteristics such as quality (eg dissolved nutrients, bacteria). location, pressure, volumes deliverable, security, measurement, associated infrastructure, containment. This is why water at a domestic tap will always be more expensive per unit volume than agricultural water, just as water in a bottle at a convenience store is more expensive than the tap in a house.

  3. Speaking as a farmer who works with irrigated hay and grain in a semi-arid area, there is a lot of water saving tech I can’t afford. There is a big need for cheaper monitoring systems (water flow, soil moisture, equipment failure), cheaper water filter systems for drip and sub-surface installations, and variable rate emitters.
    And new methods for controling gophers and moles.
    The other big thing will be a robot that can pick weeds mechanically without hurting the crop so we don’t have to spray herbicides (not that herbicides are bad for you, they are just really expensive).

    1. Is there a good way to PM or e-mail you about monitoring systems? I have a project focusing on soil sensors mounted on an affordable aerostat, but I’m having a hard time finding information about what sensors I should focus on. At the moment it’s looking like nitrogen scanning LIDAR + a spectrometer tuned to monitor soil moisture, but without knowing a farmer to consult with, I’m not sure what actual needs are or what the bar for affordable is.

          1. No patents to be had here, I want the HAD prize!

            All the info I find will be on my HAD.io project page, but right now that page is terribly threadbare on account of lacking info I can claim as factual. I really do need a farmer to consult with to help me calibrate expectations and decide what is and isn’t useful before I move forward.

      1. Isn’t subsidizing water to make it easier to use MORE water the exact opposite of the objective at hand?

        Also, Semi-arid climates have too much rain to be a desert, but not enough rain to grow better than brown-green ground cover unless you irrigate. Some consider it a subtype of desert, others don’t.

  4. “80% of all ground and surface water is used in agriculture.” This seems odd. In California, 70% of rain and snow fall runs into the ocean. New water retention systems have been strongly opposed for the last 50 years. How could 80% be used in agriculture?

    1. You glossed over ground water. California and the American Southwest have been living on borrowed time for the past +100 years. The rate of water use for groundwater has long been higher than the recharge rate. As a result they drill deeper and sometimes the aquifers they’re drawing from are no longer open systems or have recharge rates so slow to effectively be non-renewable. Compounding this is land subsidence in lots of areas that is destroying aquifers at worst, and significantly decreasing their volume at best.

      As rasz_pl pointed out, the 80% is probably 80% of the used water in California, not 80% of all water in the State. An ambiguous sentence maybe, but context and common sense clear it up.

  5. what’s happening in california is that a crisis of sorts is being used to pull the wool over the eyes of people to steal their money and their purchasing power to give it to private water companies and to give the state more power to fine the little people and extract money from the powerless residents.

    big corporations use crisis to push through devastingly regressive extraction policies which generally are devised to provide the appearance of progressiveness but usually aren’t even progressive once you look under the hood. sometimes they actually encourage water waste and artificial scarcity. but the only consistent EFFECT is to extract money and rights from the public consumers at large–farming them like cattle.

    you will know this is true when ‘jerry progressive brown’. uses the current problem to justify taxing and fining people who account for almost NONE of the problem of excessive water consumption , while allowing farmers and industrial users to continue to go SUBSIDIZED BY THE STATE and taxpayer. worse, the residents and consumers who do consumer excess water——–those on golf courses, municipal parks, and other major non-industrial users will simply be allowed to continue business as usual. to add insult to injury, the smallest users of water will be put into a quota system for fines and court appearances to generate revenue for the state, jobs for meter maids, and an appearance of ‘government action’.

    all of this while nestle and others are given free access to municipal water in many cities and the rights to sell bottled water everywhere.

    we are living in a james bond villains fanatasy.

    1. I’m just adding that a growing number of golf courses are using treated sewage water for watering the greens. So they are not using “fresh” water, but more like “gray” water.

  6. a. Low cost distributed sensor network running off solar for information gathering.(current law makes the more logical drone approach difficult. Plus farmer).

    b. Collection and analysis of data.

    c. Magnetic softening of water.

    d. Grid based networked watering system.

    Application 1. Ground evaporation reduction. Watering system on ground under reflective mylar.(also increases plant sunlight collection.) Rain is collected and stored to reduce over hydration and waterlogged spots.

    Application 2. Grid water system to allow for optimal distribution of individual areas based on collected data.

    Application 3. Controlled distribution of fertilizer, reducing runoff contribution.

    Application 4. Reduce the surface tension by removing the minerals in the well water using induced magnetic fields.

    Application 5. Sunlight control via electrically polarizing film above crops.

    1. c. Magnetic softening of water,
      Is this real or just quack science? I’d love to replace the reverse osmosis water softener in my house with something that doesn’t consume anything more than electricity, but I hear that those “wire around the pipe” systems are just scams.

      1. The jury is still out on whether the magnetically treated water forms a different kind of scale, but one thing is for certain, it does not remove any minerals from the water.

  7. 80% sounds supspiciously like an arbitrary number, doesn’t it? And any water that isn’t absorbed by the plants, goes right back into the ground water supply, no? Has anyone ever taken that into account when calculating water usage? It seems to me the negative effects of the draught has been exacerbated by the trends of dam removals and the lack of new reservoirs being built. Couple that with the Mis management and lack of maintenence of existing water storage and distribution systems, i.e; Hetch Hetchy and you have the situation we have now, which is a bad draught made worse. I am avid sportsmen and conservationist but the almost insane mentality of many in the environmental movement to restore every square inch of habitat to its pre colonial condition ( including the removal of all non- native flora and fauna) without any consideration for the impact on the human population has helped fuel the problem as well. Yes, it is awesome to have natural and pristine rivers, but the fact of the matter is that for us to live in this environment and thrive, there are a certain amount of natural resources that must be consumed. And while man made lakes may not be natural, they can provide a significant amount of rich habitat for many more species than a typical river basin (IMHO) and at the same time provide clean energy and water for human use. Of course, if the desalinization of sea water wasn’t being used as a political football over the last few years ( even as the cost has come down) we might be well on our way to be drought proof. Then the areas with the largest populations ( on or near the ocean) would have to rely on water from the mountains or other distant sources which would mean less expense on the systems moving it. I would also think that there would be less water lost to leakage and evaporation to some extent. While I am in favor of better conservation efforts I was pretty pissed when we got a notice a couple of years back from the local water department that they were almost doubling the rates charged to residential and commercial customers in the east bay to compensate for “lost revenues due to successful conservation efforts” even though we were told that conserving water would save us consumers money in Addition to helping Mother Earth. Great so now, we pay more and get to drive our dirty cars home to our brown lawns and ugly drought resistant native specie filled landscapes. The city of Hayward (along with other “progressive” cities is even trying to regulate vegetable gardens. Thanks assholes. No doubt we can do better.

    1. And any water that isn’t absorbed by the plants, goes right back into the ground water supply, no?

      No, at least by some definitions. ground water could mean only subsurface water as in aquifers, the water that doesn’t soak into the soil and flows into rivers, lakes and oceans is called “runoff”.

        1. Good point sir.
          That water however is only lost for the moment, not for good.

          I’t is my understanding that many farms employ irrigation systems that are designed to minimize runoff. But those systems tend to be cost prohibitive. How about a 2 year tax moritorium for farms that employ such systems to allow the farm operators to recoup their cost.

    2. Regulating vegetable gardens? I wonder how many of the pols behind that are owners of grocery stores? Lost revenues due to successful conservation. That’s what happened in Idaho a while back when the State raised its gasoline tax so much that people cut back enough on driving that there was less revenue on the gas tax than before.

      The increase in average fuel economy of vehicles in the past 30 years has also hurt the tax man. With more electric cars using no gasoline and hybrids that at least part of the time can move without using gasoline, the pinch is getting worse. States are looking for ways to make people pay based on how far they drive, perhaps even a different fee for fuel only, hybrids and electrics.

      If you have a diesel powered vehicle and are making your own biofuel, keep that on the downlow. Your State government may come after you for the diesel tax on every gallon. In most States there’s no State tax on diesel used for farm equipment and for interstate commercial use (mostly semi-trucks) the tax isn’t paid at the pump. The drivers have to keep logs of how much they drive in each State then pay annually to each State according to their various tax rates and how many miles were driven in each State.

    3. ” And any water that isn’t absorbed by the plants, goes right back into the ground water supply, no? ”

      We flow most of the irrigation water down open canals and ditches to the farms that they supply. From there we pump it into aerators and throw it into the air in systems like the ones pictured above. It then sits on a heat soaked high surface area surface (dirt) in the open sun. All of these steps lead to massive amounts of evaporation.

      Some small amount does end up as runoff. This runoff is highly contaminated with excess fertilizer and pesticides. That runoff doesn’t make it back into aquifers which we often use.

  8. >The agriculture industry produces food


    >and employs a lot of people

    no, unless you meant a very narrow definition of “a lot” meaning “less than 2%”, at least according to Wiki (“As of 2008, less than 2 percent of the population is directly employed in agriculture”). Coincidentally 2% is also the amount of economy AG brings to California ;-).
    Yes, its a cute family run farm on the butter/milk commercial. In reality its a factory owned by one of the giant corporations like Roll Global (nutty $2Bil a year farming in the desert).

  9. What about big solar thermal collectors that focus sunlight to boil seawater, use the steam to generate electricity, then condense the used steam into fresh water.

    And also phase out inefficient factory farming in order to replace it with sustainable farming. But that’s not exactly a hack…

    1. >And also phase out inefficient factory farming in order to replace it with sustainable farming

      big farming will always be more efficient than sustainable .. when it optimizes for particular efficiency. Best example of such optimization is buying out politicians to secure extremely cheap subsidized water – it turns out politicians are cheaper than conserving resources, no amount of technology will fix that.

      1. The claims of factory farming being efficient (at making food) are misleading at best. Yes, they can claim that a relatively small building can make a lot of (poor quality) food, but they ignore how much land and water it takes to supply all the grain used.

        To give them credit, they are pretty efficient at making antibiotic resistant bacteria. Exactly what we don’t want in food.

        So use that as a good reason to phase out factory farming. (Phase out, not overnight ban, because the market doesn’t take fast forced changes very well!)

        1. Agreed, history has proven bigger isn’t always better. Smaller farms give us higher quality food and will limit damage in cases of e coli or salmonella contamination. Plus more people will be employed in food production. It may cost more but we can’t afford to go back to that method.

    2. I was thinking that. The only thing I would add is that you would have that setup on a ship. It can move to capture more sunlight if it goes it the right direction. It can avoid bad weather. It won’t take up precious land space. It would draw water directly from the sea and store the freshwater shipping tanks. Once they’re full, the ship can be recalled to port for draining and sent back to sea to start the process all over again. As for the electricity generated, it could be use to power pumps on the ship and for locomotion.

      To go one step farther, do the same with bio-fuel production. We already ship petroleum back and forth between countries and have off-shore oil refineries, so this shouldn’t be out of the realm of our capacity to do. Plus, we would create more jobs and can easily shift jobs for those who normally work in such industries to more green production of energy with no losses in jobs. Hell, done right, we would be creating more jobs.

  10. Compared to last week, this question is much, much harder (though the prizes are much cooler). I am still working on my ATC related project I would like to post on Hack-A-Day, so rather am not motivated by that.

    I have a ‘standard’ background in Biology and Chemistry, and though some electronics projects in this category certain might produce some (minor) efficiency gains, one must be reminded that ‘Big Agra’ already regularly utilizes satellite imagery to measure both crop growth and water usage.

    Further, the small scale operations that might be able to take advantage of small productivity improvements are simply less likely located in more drought prone areas.

    So, as a suggestion for someone with more experience in biochem than I, as a kind of ‘pie-in-the-sky’ concept, we must recall that plant life exists not only on land, but also regularly and easily in shallow bodies of both fresh and salt water.

    Anyone with a sense of history knows both the Atlanta ‘scorched Earth’, or variously in other regions, ‘salted earth’ campaigns and their meanings– The end of flora for terrestrial beings.

    But if plant life *can* live regularly in salt-water conditions, perhaps this is a ‘more noble’ search for GM solutions. Further, I also think it would be one the ‘public’, of course not entirely, but on some level (like the ‘Green Revolution’ in Asia) would be more ready to accept.

    I mean yes ‘Nori’ is a bit ‘salty’ but perhaps these products could be marketed as ‘no salt needed’.

    Further, I don’t get all the complaints about genetically modified food– hardly in the lab, but like selective breading for dogs, we have been doing it for thousands and thousands of years.

    However, I get it, rather than toying with an apple whose color doesn’t spoil, or a grain matched to one particular sort of pesticide, what if a certain select amount of genes were transferred or adapted so as to be fed with ocean water, or accept a more saline environment. Again, I am hardly a soil scientist, and pouring salt water onto ‘fresh land’ may have other negative effects.

    But, at least it is my thought for what is a quite complex, and very important, problem, especially in coming years, we all face.

    1. I for one, see a huge difference between selective breeding and cutting/splicing genes. So yes, we have been modifying dogs and horses and grains for millenia, but only until the last 50 years or so, have we been able to put an animal gene in a plant chromosone or vice versa. (often it is more like putting a bacterial gene into plant or animal)

  11. Build multi- tiered indoor farms, without the water seeping through all the dirt into an aquifer, and without the over exposure of the sun, and confined air- less water evaporates out. Measure water use as necessary. #FarmingIn21stCentury.

    1. Low airflow and high density monoculture sets up all the conditions needed for catastrophic crop failure. Using grow lights puts a higher burder on the electric grid, which in the US is still predominantly fueled by non-renwable resources. Then there’s the dependence on oil derrived fertilizers which most high density growing practices rely on (hydro-, aero-ponics, mittleider, &c)

      Not impossible problems, but currently not sufficiently solved to be viable.

  12. How about a cheap simple soil moisture monitor (at multiple depths) perhaps combined with a humidistat and thermometer that controls water flow injected under the soil (to avoid as much evaporation as possible)? Would apply to both commercial and residential systems as well.

    1. Despite the idiocracy of the voters, you’d be surprised how many Californians break the law to capture water on their property, or do repairs without the proper permits on their houses.

  13. I think I am going to start cracking water, just to protest these posts. But I think I will need to harvest the oxygen and use it to burn something toxic like plastic. Let me rephrase this in hippy talk: “I got a great idea about how we can use technology to use water to recycle plastic bottles.”

  14. This is, ever increasingly, an especially important problem, not just for ‘California’ but for all of humanity.

    From earlier comments, to bring matters more back to ‘ground’, I was quite struck by this NYT article earlier this week, which got me thinking (http://www.nytimes.com/2015/04/12/science/drinking-seawater-looks-ever-more-palatable-to-californians.html).

    Typical desalination methods are huge energy consumers, so why not make them ‘part and parcel’ of the ‘producers’ ?

    Take, for example, the recently online Ivanpah Solar Power Facility– actual production estimates seem to vary, but at least during daylight hours let us assume a 392 MW capacity.

    Granted, such solutions have their own ecological drawbacks (http://spectrum.ieee.org/energywise/green-tech/solar/ivanpah-solar-plant-turns-birds-into-smoke-streamers)– That said, for the sake of a generally difficult question in many respects, if one does a sort of ‘back of the napkin’ quite conservative calculation, 355 MW translates into 1,278,000,000,000 J/Hr.

    Given, as described, the facility is run of steam based generators, I started to wonder some of the implications instead of using sea water (again, granted, there is the risk of ‘cooking’ endless numbers of micro-organisms– how this is dealt with in desalination, I don’t know).

    But, in a simplistic version, consider the specific heat equation: Q = m•C•ΔT

    One could be very conservative, and say that the seawater (somehow) is actually frozen, assuming ΔT = 100.

    Further, given the specific heat of sea water at around 35 ppt, for a measurement (http://web.mit.edu/seawater/Seawater_Property_Tables.pdf) averaging table values and then adjusting on a per gram basis we have something like 3.9914 J/G.

    Working this in, to figure out the unknown mass of water gives us (with conversion) 3,201,884.051 liters, or ~12,120,452.02 gallons per hour of boiled water– Which, notably *both* powers the turbine, and if condensed and collected properly, provides fresh, if but ‘distilled’ water on the other end (rather than some recirculating system as is more commonly used).

    There may be other more practical arguments against this I may be missing, nor is it the best of all worlds, though at least as other HackaDay members it is a thought towards a start.

  15. Hmm. DSlogic development seems dead since rev. 0.4 in August 2014 and they stopped responding to the forum in January 2015… such a shame. nice hardware but cripled by bad software. :-( although people are porting it to general Sigrok at the moment.

  16. Since we a focusing in Agriculture, I’d like the break the problem into multiple options:
    1. Use less water, ie. greater efficiency through sensors etc.
    2. Find (or create) more viable water sources.

    While most here will focus option 1, I’d like to mention option 2.
    Option 2 leads to desalination plants, (fresh water from salt) and increased use of “grey” water. It also leads to genetically modified crops, surviving on less water – or SALTIER water.

    For every plant you modify, you don’t just ease the pressure on USA’s drought: you help battle a worldwide problem of rising salt rendering farm land infertile.

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