Usually, we try to steer clear of mysterious powder imported from Mexico, but “Solid Rain” has us rethinking that maxim. The purveyors of this “powdered water” claim it can help mitigate the damage of droughts. It comes in a little packet, and all you need to do to make it work its magic is add water. No, wait, where are you going?
“Solid Rain” is actually a compound called “potassium polyacrylate,” which is super effective at absorbing water. It can absorb up to 500 times its volume, Modern Farmer writes: “Think of it like a little powdered reservoir.”
This stuff has been spreading across Mexico for years as farmers enthuse about it to other farmers. You just make little holes in your field, mix some of the “rain” (sometimes dry, sometimes already hydrated) with soil, and put the soil in the holes. The company that makes it claims that, for example, you’d have to water a Solid Rain-treated lawn just 35 times a year to get luscious green grass, while watering a regular lawn 300 times a year still gets you sad brown hay.
One official test, at least, showed the product actually worked:
Side-by-side, farm plots showed up to 300 percent increases in crop yield when Solid Rain was used. For instance, the comparison of oatmeal showed a huge jump in yields — 2500 kg per hectare in fields without Solid Rain versus 5000 kg per hectare in fields with it. Sunflowers were 1000 kg per hectare versus 3000 kg. And bean yields went through the roof, with a difference of 450 kg per hectare versus 3000 kg.
Seems worth a try. I mean, you experimented that one time with cocaine; this is probably a lot safer.
Update: Turns out our initial instincts may have been right: don’t trust strange powders.
- Can Powdered Water Cure Droughts?, Modern Farmer
Get Grist in your inbox