Old fashioned cloud seeding worked by bringing the water from the cloud down to the ground in the form of rain, hail, or, in at least one notable instance, milk. The plants, however, were stuck in the dirt the old fashioned way.
A new technique elements that old-fashioned two-step process. Rather than planting tomatoes and corn in the ground, farmers in Texas are now experimenting with direct seeding, sowing seeds right into the cloud. “There’s all that water up there,” says Deaf Smith County farmer Ellis McCarthy, “and instead of bringing the water to the seeds, we bring the seeds to the water.”
Early experiments in direct cloud seeding involved the use of robotic dirigibles trailing strings of growing vegetables. Now, however, genetic engineers are developing plant strains capable of staying up by themselves.
On the whole, this new technique promises to be a great boon to farmers in drought prone regions. Initial tests show yield increases of as much as 54% over in-ground growing techniques. However, there have been a few complaints. On several occasions, floating tomato plants have landed on unsuspecting pedestrians, occasioning anger and sometimes even leading to brawls. And in one case, a young girl was killed by a falling watermelon. If further such accidents occur, they may bring direct cloud seeding to a halt, but scientists and farmers are confident that further improvements in the technology will obviate the risk of any future incidents.
Image based on “Lettuce iceberg variety from Salinas valley California”. Licensed under Public domain via Wikimedia Commons – http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Lettuce_iceberg_variety_from_Salinas_valley_California.jpeg#mediaviewer/File:Lettuce_iceberg_variety_from_Salinas_valley_California.jpeg.