The Israeli farmers who pioneered the revolutionary technology known as drip irrigation weren’t trying to solve one of the world’s most urgent problems. They were just trying to survive. They lived in the desert, and they didn’t have enough water to grow their crops. One day, they met an engineer named Simcha Blass who told them about his amazing new invention.
In its simplest form, it was little more than a hose with holes in it. But behind each hole was a sophisticated little device called a dripper, a sort of button-like valve that emitted just the right amount of water. Snaked along a row of crops so that the holes were positioned directly above the roots, the hose could direct each precious drop of water directly to the plants, growing a bigger bounty while using a fraction of the water.
The farmers decided to start manufacturing these hoses, and over time, they improved upon the technology, perfecting the drippers that regulated the flow of water, and connecting the pipelines to computers that could determine exactly how much water each plant needed and when.
By the late 70s, they understood that they had stumbled upon something big. If the global population kept growing, the rest of the world would increasingly resemble their little community in the desert—a bunch of farmers with barely enough water to grow the crops needed to feed their families. So they began selling their irrigation systems in other parts of the world, eventually expanding to more than 110 countries. Today, their products are helping farmers in India and Africa grow bigger, better crops with less water. The company says it’s lifting people out of poverty and conserving water at a time when the importance of doing so has never been clearer.