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Equals no more thirsty crops. Say whaaat?
This is exactly what 17 year-old Kiara Nirghin thought when she came up with her idea for the Google Science Fair last year. Kiara, who is now in matric at St Martin’s School in Johannesburg, invented a super-absorbent polymer (SAP), using orange peel and avocado skin, to combat the effects of drought on crops. But wha… Shh, it’s science.
The SAP is capable of storing volumes of water hundreds of times its own weight. This means that in times of drought (like now, FYI) the crops will extract this moisture from the SAP slowly, reducing the affect of the conditions on crop growth.
It’s like putting sponges full of water inside your cheeks and then walking through the Northern Cape. You’ll be fiiine.
Kiara went on to win the Google Community Impact Award grand prize of more than R650 000 in scholarship funding. She aims to do a lot more experimenting with her new invention to get it out to South African crops as soon as possible.