(CNN)At the beginning of March, a team traveled to Dubai and planted watermelon, zucchini and pearl millet in a plot of desert.
Five months later, the arid land is filled with rows and rows of green leaves, punctuated by freshly grown fruits and vegetables.
This unlikely feat was made possible by Liquid Nanoclay-- a new innovation produced by Norwegian startup Desert Control. Made with just water and clay, Liquid Nanoclay is designed to be sprayed on sand or sandy soil. It soaks in and attaches to sand particles, boosting water retention and enriching the soil with plant-essential nutrients.
According to Desert Control, the mixture increases the fertility of nutrient-poor sandy soils and can reduce water usage by more than half. What's more, Liquid Nanoclay can turn arid land into arable land in just seven hours, says the company.
Greening the desert
Invented in the mid 2000's by Norwegian scientist Kristian Olesen, Desert Control's technology turns thick clay into a liquid "nearly as thin as water," explains CEO Ole Kristian Sivertsen. When sprayed onto sand, this runny consistency allows it to "trickle down and percolate out," he says.
The company has reduced the size of the clay particles, so they are as small as possible, says Sivertsen.
"You can apply (Liquid Nanoclay) using any known irrigation technique," he says. "You could even use a sprinkler."