Unisa scientist Neil Stacey has developed a technology to reduce global water usage drastically by approaching the matter from an unusual angle: he looked at where water ends up. Two of Stacey’s research articles, published in international scientific journals, have shown that more than 90% of the water used in agriculture is lost to evaporation. And since 70% of global water usage is for agriculture, those evaporative losses exceed losses from all other forms of water usage put together. Stacey and his team set out to find ways to minimise these losses. By using a greenhouse as a model they demonstrated that there is a limit to the reductions that are achievable through conventional means. Plants require carbon dioxide, which they obtain from the air. Huge airflows are needed to supply enough of the crucial CO², as it is highly dilute in air at just 400 parts per million. That airflow drives evaporation, because all that air has to be brought to the warm, humid conditions that plan...

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