Wout’s father Pieter Hoff came up with a clever idea in the form of ‘intelligent buckets’. These smart buckets ensure that a young plant has a good foundation to grow into a strong tree or bush. Wout explains how this works:
“The problem with drip irrigation or other forms of irrigation that you normally see in gardens is that the water always comes from above. It basically makes plants or trees lazy. With our solution, we actually stimulate the plant’s roots. Thanks to the intelligent bucket, the tree, shrub or vegetable plant develops strong roots that can be up to three meters deep after one year. After that, he can survive without the bucket.”
Two versions of the intelligent shovel have been developed:
- 1. Waterboxx is a reusable version, made of plastic. You can use this for 10 years to plant one or two trees, shrubs or vegetable plants each year.
- 2. Growboxx, on the other hand, is biodegradable. After a year, you do not need to remove it, but it dissolves in the soil and is absorbed as compost.
“With these techniques, you don’t need electricity. You also don’t need to install a complex installation in the garden. The buckets have the simplicity of a paperclip and the function of a Swiss army knife,” adds Hoff.
How does it work?
The operation of the intelligent shovel is very simple. You fill the doughnut-shaped bucket with water and place it around a tree or plant. After that you are done. When it rains, the buckets will fill themselves.
“Because the air cools down in the evening and the water in the bucket is still relatively warm, the bucket fills itself up in the evening using the condensation that the bucket generates and collects. Every few weeks you check whether you might need to top up, but in 90% of cases it is not necessary,” says Wout enthusiastically.
Don’t wait too long to remove
After planting the tree and placing the intelligent bucket, significant side branches will grow after nine to twelve months, now it’s time to lift the Waterboxx off – and plant the next tree with it. According to Hoff, this is best done when the side branches are still flexible. So don’t wait too long.
Wout: “Sometimes we see that trees grow faster and that customers wait too long to remove the bins, which is of course a shame. The tree will survive, but at some point it will destroy the container.”
Global crisis solutions
Hoff travels a lot to introduce the world to his products. A few months ago, for example, he visited a refugee camp in southern Algeria.
Wout: “Three hundred families received our Waterboxxes as a donation. They have produced enough food to feed the entire camp. Isn’t that amazing? In the middle of the desert, it is dramatic, because if there is a lot of drought, there is of course no possibility of getting food from nature.”
But the boxes not only offer a suitable solution in extremely dry countries, they are also useful in the Netherlands. “In the Netherlands, a thousand trees were recently planted along highways and in polders. None of them made it. We don’t think about that, but it is of course a pity that you plant a young tree and then let it die,” he adds.
Also for your backyard
Are you going on holiday during the dry summer months? When you use the intelligent buckets, you can leave with peace of mind. Watering or spraying a young tree is not necessary in this way. The boxes also ensure that the water evaporates less quickly at high temperatures.
The biggest challenge for Wout at the moment is the cost price reduction of Growboxx. “We would like to be able to replant two trees for every tree that is cut down, and that is only possible if the concept is ultimately more affordable.”
Because you can plant up to 20 trees or bushes with each Waterboxx, the cost is already under one euro per tree. The ideal price for Growboxx would also be a maximum of one euro per piece, but it requires further development.
Are you curious or interested? Watch the story again in 90 seconds here.