BNR News Radio Eyeopeners Meindert Schut A plant bucket that needs 90% less water when growing plants and trees and which has a survival rate of more than 90%. We are talking about the Growboxx from Groasis. They have been awarded as the winner of the SME innovation top 100 of the Dutch Chamber of Commerce. And Pieter Hoff from Groasis is here, welcome. Yes thank you
– And congratulations. Yes, we are very happy with it. Yes, I can imagine that. Let’s go to the product for a moment. If you look at it, it is actually a kind of intelligent bucket. Yes
– Is that right? It is an intelligent bucket that looks like a square box with an opening in the middle. You could also say, a kind of donut. Yes, a cardboard donut.
– Yes It is made from the same materials as egg cartons.
– Yes And so you can make them into a shape. In fact, it is actually paper mache or pulp that you make in a certain model and then you can create a bucket of it. We have to add additives otherwise the box will be leaking. Okay, the water cannot escape from the bucket? Correct, what we do is that we add an x amount of additives, so just enough water escapes from the box. – Yes The box sweats through the bottom and gives water to the tree, since we plant it in the middle of the box. The tree does not get sufficient water to grow, but he gets stimulated to search for more water in the soil. – And then the roots will grow deep into the soil. Yes, a tree is actually just like, imagine comparing it with a human being. When a man is born, then that person knows, in the first second, I have to breathe. Yes
– There is nobody who says that to the baby. Well, every tree knows that, if I want water, then I have to deeply root with my roots. Yes, but it is actually holding a carrot for the nose of a horse all the time. And then taking it away.
– Correct. Yes, it’s a bit mean, but you also have to stimulate him. Because, what we have to achieve, is that the root in the first year, will grow more than 3 meters deep. – Yes. There will be enough moisture in the soil and the tree will never die again. Yes, of course this is not really intended for the Netherlands? This is for dry areas, I can imagine, where those roots should indeed go so deep. – Yes and no. In fact, you have a lot of dry lands, apparently dry countries.
– Yes. Who still have dry periods for one month, three, four or five months. Which is just too long for the tree to survive on its own. Every Dutchman has seen this this year. That also in our country, while we actually have 700 mm of rain per year, which is more than enough. Yet a quarter of the newly planted trees this year, in the cities, have died. That is in the Netherlands, now the case?
– Yes And that is why they just did not come across that. And what is the point. It is a matter of calculation for the one who plans, yes, such a tree costs me 100 euros. I might want to invest that 10 euros so that my trees will never die again. Because that costs, the Growboxx?
– Yes The Growboxx is much cheaper. We sell him between 2 and 3 euros. So that’s a very low price. But to apply the Growboxx, you also need your organization. Yes, exactly.
– People have to put it in the ground. So all with all, there must be water. Let’s say, you are the head of the public garden department of Amsterdam.
– Yes. Then you have to calculate the 10 euros for a box, because that is your cost. Otherwise you have to plant a tree that dies and you have to remove it, which costs a lot of money. Yes, well here, next to us, the Growboxx with all kinds of colorful plants in it.
-Yes It looks fantastic. Well there is much more here. Can you grow multiple plants in such a Growboxx? The problem we encountered was that poverty also prevails in many countries where there is drought. If there is poverty, there is no money to buy such a box. And then we thought, if we can add a cash crop to the box. That means vegetables. While you plant your tree, you plant vegetables at the same time. Melons or tomatoes or you name it. They will then deliver 20 to 40 kilos of product. You and your family can eat a part of the vegetables and the other part can be sold. And with that money you generate, you can, for example, redeem your microcredit, which you used to buy this box. Well and that tree in the middle, we actually need it to make the land fertile again. Yes, if you look at where that poverty is. Then it is very difficult for people, they are always agricultural companies. Yes Yes.
– 70, 80 to 90% still work in the agricultural sector. That used to be the case here too. And actually in the old days, every farmer, also had an orchard. So what we are actually trying to stimulate. There are four to five hundred million farmers in the world. If all of that now, planting an orchard of 1, 2, 3 or 4 hectares, then they can generate their income and create wealth from it. Yes, are they sensitive? Because I can also imagine that they also think, Well, we do not put a tree in it that might help us in the future. But we just put a cash crop in, which gives the same money. We now notice that we ourselves may not have seen it very well. We notice that there are indeed many people who are interested in the box, just for vegetables because that indeed yields a lot more money. But it is true, if you eventually have your own orchard, then you are debt-free and after a year or five you have all the years, x kilograms of fruit that you can sell.
– Yes. So the combination is very interesting but it will certainly happen later that vegetable growers will soon only buy the container
-Yes, exactly But it is therefore wise to plant trees
– Yes So you ultimately have many more future possibilities. Well there was already an earlier version of the Growboxx. The Waterboxx was called that.
– Yes correct. What is the biggest difference between the two? The Waterboxx is made of plastic.
– Oh yeah. And that was something that people did not like.
– Yes. You could pick them up and use them over and over again.
– Yes. So you did have a reuse function, nevertheless after 10 years such a box is finished and then you’re sitting with an old plastic box. This is a box that decays and is degraded. There are also nutrients released, so this is much more environmentally friendly.
– Yes. But if it is degradable, how long will such a box last? In fact, a tree can settle down within a year. So it is not necessary that the box lasts longer than a year. And with that you have won the SME innovation top 100.
– Yes. A prerequisite for this is that the product has already proven itself.
-Yes To what extent did you manage to put this product on the market? We are already in 42 countries, our website is in 8 languages, our YouTube channel is in 16 languages. And that means that we are actually active worldwide. We have local representatives everywhere because they know their local market much better. Which then sell either to an organization or to a local government. And we are already producing in three countries.
– Okay, because you think, of course about dry areas especially to Africa, parts of Africa. But there are also parts in Europe where it is dry. Spain, for example.
– Do you already have success stories? Yes, we are successful. In our website you can find a Dropbox with scientific documents from 18 countries, in which we show how successful it is. People can see that for themselves. All by scientific institutes, because it is very difficult to say of yourself, it succeeds, because nobody believes it. So it’s better to do that with institutes
– To be assessed independently. Your ultimate mission is of course to make the earth green. Yes, we call that the Treesolution, it is a dream that we want to achieve. There is about 2 billion hectares of land on earth, which has been degraded by ourselves. Degraded means trees cut down, then goats on it, then it becomes bald. The sun that is going to shine on the ground and then it becomes dust and then nothing grows. And for that we want to use an IPO, so that sufficient capital is available to realize our dream. But in general, the ground itself is fertile, so you should not compare it to a desert like the Sahara. Yes, exactly. Look at, I wish you a lot of success with that, with the Growboxx, Groasis. Thanks, Pieter Hoff from Groasis. And we want to make that land fertile again and that is our dream. And possibly there is an IPO.
– I thought it was separate. Yes, we think, the scale of the problem is so large, 2 billion hectares. To give you an idea, that is for 60 years, every week, planting 700.000 hectares. So Groasis can never do that alone, we need everyone who wants to be involved. We have now established a Friends of Groasis. When you go to our website you can participate. You can become a co-owner in the company. Yes.
– But there comes a time when machines are needed on a large scale to make this box. Locally, so that no transportation costs are incurred that are not necessary.