The Aquatrap Project is an innovation created by Mark Algra that uses old car tyres buried in the ground to save water and feed the root systems of plants. It is easy to make and all of the components are available for free.
“I wondered whether a false water table could be created after seeing how badly Africa was affected by water issues. I manufactured and buried the first two Aquatraps and bought a cheap moisture metre to measure and monitor the results. They pointed to a 50% water saving,” says Algra. The Aquatrap is made by taking out the sidewalls from car tyres and filling the hole with a disc made from an old car or truck inner tube. Once they have been buried they hold on to the water and stop nutrients leeching away quickly, especially in sandy soil, supporting healthier and faster growth of plants and vegetables.
“Rubber is a natural insulator and creates a stable temperature zone below the soil surface so heat is kept in the soil longer and cold is kept out, which makes for ideal growing conditions,” says Algra.
“Cabbages grown at Lizo Nobanda Daycare Centre in Khayelitsha using the Aquatraps the size of soccer balls. The cabbages next to them without the traps were the size of cricket balls, and both used the same amount of water.”
The invention was snapped up by the Quaker Peace Group for their Nyanga community food garden, which then led to Abalimi Bezekhaya, Nazareth House, Constantia Primary School and Pelican Park Primary, among many others, implementing it successfully.
“Aquatrap products create opportunities for individuals to convert and recycle tyres into useful products that can be resold, used and installed,” says Agra. “Over the years it has proven to save massive amounts of water.”