These past few years America’s Golden State has been enduring a drought that's damaged ways of living, especially for its many tomato and almond farmers. Solutions are badly required as you can imagine, with one bright spark offering up the humble cactus.
Better known for causing bother for old Loony Tunes characters, the green, prickly plant actually has several properties that could make it a saviour of sorts for west coast Americans. The project is known as Grassroots Cactivism, and it won a ‘dry future’ contest looking at how to prepare for the future in farming. Its creator, Ali Chen, is planning for a large cactus farm which will help produce livestock feed and due to cacti acting as natural water filters she intends to pair it with a water treatment plants.
Chen noted its ideal properties to CoExist.com:
"It was quite an amazing coincidence to find that cactus is not only drought tolerant and edible, but that it has the ability to clean water. It was only logical and efficient to combine these two functions into one facility to minimize transportation costs and fuel."
In her plan, the cacti grow in circular patches with irrigation in the middle. The plant can also serve as a healthy substitute for feeding cattle.
Chen looks at the plant as the next step to making water profitable, something she considers crucial as her own country and others try to figure out how to manage a progressively dry future.