From VOA Learning English, this is Science in the News. Today, we tell about an American farmer and an unusual device he developed. For 20 years, people around the world have been buying his invention.
Blake Whisenant and his family are farmers. They live in the American state of Florida. For nearly 100 years, Mr. Whisenant's family has grown fruits and vegetables, and sold them to businesses around the world. The warm weather in central Florida is good for growing crops, especially tomatoes. That is what he grows the most of on his eight hundred hectares of land. In 1992, Mister Whisenant had some bad luck.
It began to rain. And...it rained. And it rained some more. Nearly 50 centimeters of rain destroyed the tomato crop that year. Blake Whisenant was not a happy farmer.
"I just thought there's got to be a better way!"
So, he began looking to find a way to make sure this never happened again. He wanted to develop a system that would provide water to the plants from below. He thought some kind of cover would keep rain away and the soil warm. He wanted the plants to be grown in a box that would take up little space. He became obsessed with the idea and thought about it day and night.
"And I told my wife, before I die I wanted to see if I could build me a box above the ground that I could grow tomatoes in."
And...after years of work...he knew what to do. He found a company in Pennsylvania that agreed to make the box. It would be made of thick plastic, and would be about one meter long and half a meter deep. Inside the box would be a plastic tube to pour the water in, and a plastic screen with many holes in it. Something like peat moss, but not soil, would be placed in the box on top of the screen, which would hold it above the water in the bottom of the box. A thin plastic cover would fit over the top of the box to keep out rain and harmful insects. Blake called it...the EarthBox.
1.hectare n. 公顷（等于1万平方米）
A hectare is equal to 15 mu.
2.obsessed with 非常喜欢
He was obsessed with American gangster movies.
3.peat moss 泥煤苔（泥煤的主成分）
Peat moss is a major constituent of most soil mixes.