Improve Soil Drainage Using A Common Sponge (Agriculture-Guide)

Read at :

http://www.agricultureguide.org/how-to-improve-drainage-for-plants-and-trees-in-cheaper-and-easier-way/comment-page-1/#comment-30443

How To Improve The Drainage Of Plants and Trees In A Surprisingly Cheap and Easy Way

Actually there are many ways to improve drainage using several soils that are readily available for purchase, but if you want to improve drainage in a cheaper and easier way (at least I think so), use a sponge . Yes… you read right — a sponge!

The Agriculture Guide’s Foolproof Way To Improve Soil Drainage Using A Common Sponge:

Buy several sponges or collect them throughout your home.
Locate a pair of scissors.
Begin cutting your sponges into pieces that are the size of a walnut or hazelnut.
Mix these small sponge pieces into the soil around trees or plants that need better drainage.

(continued)

 

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MY COMMENT (Willem Van Cotthem)

Very useful idea, indeed. Instead of using the rather expensive expanded, baked clay pellets (Hydroton, hydrokorrels) as a reusable growing medium, pieces of sponge can play a similar role in the soil (water retention, aeration, …).

I use a rather considerable layer of sponge pieces in the bottom of containers (pots, bottles, trays, …) to create this double function of water stockage and aeration.

When positioning a vertical cilinder of sponge pieces along one or two sides of the container wall, one can also enhance the water retention capacity in containers, thus avoiding irrigation water standing too long at the bottom of a container.

TERRACOTTEM soil conditioner : an experiment in Togo (Vicoire de Jésus Olympio / Willem Van Cotthem)

SUMMARY

REPORT ON TERRACOTTEM SOIL CONDITIONER EXPERIMENT

LOMé (TOGO)

Sister Victoire de Jésus Olympio

TEXTE FRANçAIS (TRANSLATION SEE BELOW)

L’expérience du TerraCottem a duré un mois. Nous avons utilisé un légume africain (adémè), dont je ne connais pas son nom en Français (WVC: pourpier, Portulaca oleracea). Ce légume sert à préparer la sauce.

L’expérience a été réalisée dans le quartier de Hédzranawoé à Lomé (TOGO). Nous sommes dans un quartier où l’eau est très profond dans le sol. Dans notre centre nous avons un forage, mais l’eau est salée et notre terre est très pauvre selon le résultat d’analyses qui ont été effectué en Italie. Or, nous avons constaté que le TerraCottem peut valablement remédier à notre problème en améliorant notre culture.

La graine semée avec TerraCottem mesure 77 cm dans l’espace d’un mois et celle semée sans TerraCottem (témoin) mesure 15 cm, soit 62 cm de différence. C’est un résultat excellent.

Malheureusement, nous n’avons pas les moyens pour acheter ce produit un peu trop cher pour notre bourse.

Merci à monsieur Willem Van Cotthem pour ce don.

============

2001-04 : Purslane treated with soil conditioner TerraCottem (Photo Victoire de Jésus Olympio)

The experiment with TerraCottem took one month.  We used an african vegetable (adémè), of which I don’t know the French name (WVC : pourpier, Portulaca oleracea , purslane).  This vegetable is used to prepare the sauce.

2001-04 : Purslane treated with soil conditioner TerraCottem (Photo Victoire de Jésus Olympio)

The experiment is carried out in the district of Hédezranawoé in Lomé (TOGO).  We are in a district where the water table in the soil is very deep.  In our center, we have a well, but the water is saline and the soil is very poor, according to the analyses done in Italy.  Well, we have observed that the soil conditioner TerraCottem can significantly solve our problem, improving our production.

2001-04 : Purslane not treated with soil conditioner TerraCottem = control plants (Photo Victoire de Jésus Olympio)

Seeds treated with TerraCottem grew up to 7 cm within a month and seeds growing in a soil without TerraCottem (control plants) grew up to 15 cm only, on average a difference of 62 cm.

2001-04 : Purslane not treated with soil conditioner TerraCottem = control plants (Photo Victoire de Jésus Olympio)

This is an excellent result.

2001-04 : Difference in purslane production with and without soil conditioner TerraCottem (Photo Victoire de Jésus Olympio)

Unfortunately, we do not have the financial resources to buy this soil conditioner, too expensive for our purse.

Thanks to Mr. Willem van Cotthem for this donation.

How to condition your soil ? (Google / The Southland Times)

Read at : Google Alert – soil conditioning

http://www.stuff.co.nz/southland-times/life-style/gardening/4885108/Conditioning-your-soil

Conditioning your soil

JANE WRIGGLESWORTH

If gardening throughout winter doesn’t appeal, preparing the ground for a flurry of spring action might be a better option.

Adding a layer of organic mulch to your garden is the easiest solution – it will break down on its own accord and boost soil health and improve structure.

Or you can plant a green manure crop. Green manure is a cover crop that is grown primarily to add nutrients and organic matter to your soil. The crops are typically grown over winter as beds become available (once you’ve dug up your summer/autumn veges, for example) and then dug into the soil at the end of winter in time for the new growing season.

Leguminous crops, like alfalfa, clover and lupins, are ideal because they add large quantities of nitrogen to the soil along with organic matter. Compare a planting of legumes to a layer of compost: compost returns to your soil around 98 per cent of the nitrogen you originally started with (remember that continuous cultivation depletes your soil of nutrients), whereas a green manure crop replenishes what’s been lost plus adds considerably more nitrogen. Continue reading How to condition your soil ? (Google / The Southland Times)

Magnesite as soil conditioner (Google / ABC News)

Read at : Google Alert – soil conditioning

http://www.abc.net.au/news/stories/2011/04/08/3186024.htm?section=business

Tarkine mine test drilling begins

A Melbourne-based resources company is testing the viability of mining for magnesite in north-west Tasmania.

…………………

The company’s General Manager, Allan Daley, says there is considerable demand globally for magnesite which has many uses.

Right from being a water purifier, conditioning soil, as a kid you might have taken it as milk of magnesia but its bulk use is as a refractory material in the steel making process,” he said.

(continued)

Soil conditioning (Google / No Pickles)

Read at : Google Alert – soil conditioning

http://www.nopickles.net/home-and-garden/soil-conditioning-and-feeding/

Soil Conditioning and Feeding

When mulch is added to a soil bed, the quality of the soil and the health of the plants is almost instantly improved. Organic Mulch helps to provide added nutrients as well as protection to the important soil bed which helps the roots receive the nutrients they need to stay healthy.

(continued)

Belgian scientist uses hydrogels to turn dirt into gardens (Google / Ecofriend / Popular Science)

Read at : Google Alert

http://www.ecofriend.org/entry/belgian-scientist-uses-hydrogels-to-turn-dirt-into-gardens/

Belgian scientist uses hydrogels to turn dirt into gardens

Anupam | Jul 10 2010

willem van cotthems hydrogel planting technique_1

Eco Factor: Water saving technique allows plants to grow everywhere.

Belgian scientist Willem van Cotthem is aiming to grow tropical crops anywhere in the world where it’s warm. The technique is based on the use of hydrogels, powerful absorbent polymers that can suck up hundreds of times their weight in water. Hydrogels are commonly used in disposable diapers, but this new technology uses them to grow plants using less water.

The difference with agricultural hydrogels is that after trapping water, they slowly release it again into the roots of plants. Since water alone won’t make plant flourish in sand, the scientist has created a “soil conditioner” called Terracottem. Terracottem is an 8-to-12-inch layer of dirt impregnated with agricultural hydrogels, along with organic agents that nourish the natural bacteria in soil.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ps9LqU2Mi8s&feature=player_embedded

The tests have been fruitful and have helped in converting barren plots of land to food growing heavens. To make sure that farmers over the world get enough seeds to maximize the use of technology, the scientist has also launched a non-profit organization called Seeds for Food that ask people to mail in unwanted seeds that can be planted elsewhere.

Via: Popsci

Improving plant growth with a soil conditioner in the drylands of Tamil Nadu (India)

A Belgian group around the Past-President of one of the Rotary International clubs in Antwerp (Belgium), Dr. Stany PAUWELS, and SCAD (Social Change and Development), an Indian NGO directed by Dr. Cletus BABU in Tamil Nadu (South India) were recently introducing trials on the use of the soil conditioner TerraCottem (TC) for improving plant production in the drylands of Tamil Nadu. The Belgian group offered an important quantity of TerraCottem to SCAD and trials were set up at SCAD headquarters in Cheranmahadevi, at SCAD KVK Agricultural Center and in different villages in the drylands of Tamil Nadu.

SCAD has initiated intensive training programmes to promote the use of Terracottem and to motivate the rural people to set up kitchen gardens. The period of June – July is the prime Agriculture Season of Tamil Nadu. Farmers who received some soil conditioner have started application in their test plots.

As far as the test plots raised at KVK are concerned, the Terracottem-treated fields are showing a lot of favorable results. The Bhendi (okra)-fruits harvested from the treated plots are healthier and more vigourous than those of the control plots.

Since the farmers have started their work with TC recently, they are yet to see the results.

This year, SCAD has fixed 2000 Kitchen Gardens as a target in the Tuticorin District alone. In the first phase local native seeds have been distributed to 1250 gardens, along with the seeds offered by the Belgian groups. The production in these gardens will be closely monitored.

SCAD is also interested in “bottle gardening“, an idea launched in a former posting on this blog (see “My vegetable garden in plastic bottles“, 2008-02-13). SCAD has already given a training on bottle gardening to the Self Help Groups (SHG)-members. They showed a lot of interest on that method, motivating local people to eliminate plastic bottle from their environment.

Nowadays, SCAD KVK-scientists are closely monitoring the effect of TerraCottem (TC) on vegetables and other plant species and on the planned Kitchen Garden programmes. Promotion of TC among the farming community is going on in selected SCAD-sponsored villages. Feedback from the communities will be send later.

Family gardens or kitchen gardens are relatively new to this dryland region. The rural population has no tradition in gardening during the dry season. Together with bottle gardening, this method can improve food patterns and public health in a significant way. It can also alleviate poverty, offering farmers a chance to take their vegetables produced locally to the nearby market, thus competing with vegetables important from distant production centers in other Indian states.

Here are some pictures illustrating the actual situation in June-July 2008 :

2008-06 : Village Vedanatham – Mrs. Mariyammal – Crops raised : Gourds, Sesbania, Cluster beans, etc. (DSCN 1768)

2008-06 : Village Vedanatham – Mrs. Mariyammal – Crops raised : Gourds, Sesbania, Cluster beans, etc. (DSCN 1769)


2008-06 : Village Vedanatham – Mrs. Mariyammal – Crops raised : Gourds, Sesbania, Cluster beans, etc. (DSCN 1770)

2008-06 : Village Vedanatham – Mrs. Mariyammal – Crops raised : Gourds, Sesbania, Cluster beans, etc. (DSCN 1787)

2008-06 – Village M.Velayudhapuram – Mr. Muniyasamy – Crops raised : Gourds, Sesbania, Cluster beans etc. (DSCN 1835)

2008-06 – Village M.Velayudhapuram – Mr. Muniyasamy – Crops raised : Gourds, Sesbania, Cluster beans etc. (DSCN 1838)

2008-06 – Village M.Velayudhapuram – Mr. Muniyasamy – Crops raised : Gourds, Sesbania, Cluster beans etc. (DSCN 1839)

2008-06 – Village M.Velayudhapuram – Mr. Muniyasamy – Crops raised : Gourds, Sesbania, Cluster beans etc. (DSCN 1840)

2008-06 – Village Thulukkan kulam – Mrs. Pushparani – Crops raised : Zinnia, Bhendi, Amaranthus & other greens (DSCN 4430) – Mixing the TC with top soil.

2008-06 – Village Thulukkan kulam – Mrs. Pushparani – Crops raised : Zinnia, Bhendi, Amaranthus & other greens (DSCN 4439) – Applying TC to Drumstick (Moringa) tree

2008-06 – Village Thulukkan kulam – Mrs. Pushparani – Crops raised : Zinnia, Bhendi, Amaranthus & other greens (DSCN 4449) – Mrs. Pushparani applying TC to Brinjal (Egg Plant) raised in a small pot (Container Gardening). Asparagus and Alternanthera in the small containers.

2008-06 – Village Thulukkan kulam – Mrs. Pushparani – Crops raised : Zinnia, Bhendi, Amaranthus & other greens (DSCN 4464) – Proud owner of the garden with Zinnia, Marigold plants. In the rear end, some papaya trees.

2008-06 – Village Thulukkan kulam – Mrs. Pushparani – Crops raised : Zinnia, Bhendi, Amaranthus & other greens (DSCN 4477) – Little girl sitting in her TC-treated kitchen garden with Amaranthus greens.

2008-06 – SCAD KVK – Women SHG members – Test Plots showing healthy Bhendi (Okra) fruits – (DSCN 7690) – SCAD Anbu Illam cook is harvesting the Bhendi fruits (Abelmoschus esculentus).

2008-06 – SCAD KVK – Women SHG members – Test Plots showing healthy Bhendi (Okra) fruits – (DSCN 7692) – Healthy bhendi plants with long fruits.

2008-06 – SCAD KVK – Women SHG members – Test Plots showing healthy Bhendi (Okra) fruits – (DSCN 7695) – SCAD Anbu Illam cook in the TC-treated Bhendi garden

2008-06 – SCAD KVK – Women SHG members – Test Plots showing healthy Bhendi (Okra) fruits – (DSCN 7696) – Fresh and healthy bhendi fruits harvested from TC-treated bhendi garden.

2008-06 – SCAD KVK – Training for Kitchen gardens by KVK Staff Members – (DSCN 7712)


2008-06 – SCAD KVK – Training for Kitchen gardens by KVK Staff Members – Self Help Group of Women after training. -(DSCN 7713)


Effect of a new Indian organic fertilizer (Willem)

My Indian correspondent Yogesh PATEL has sent to me 5 kg of a new organic fertilizer he has developed. With my friends of the allotment gardens Slotenkouter in 9040 ST.AMANDSBERG (Belgium) we have set up some tests on different vegetables. In due time we will present a detailed report on the results. Today and with great pleasure, I can publish the first pictures showing the very positive effect on the growth of carrots. Please enjoy with us this remarkable success in one of the allotment gardens :


Edward VUEGHS in his nice allotment garden, showing proudly the effect of the PATEL- fertilizer on carrots.


Four rows of carrots sown the same day. A few weeks later the soil along the rows was treated from left to right as follows :

Row 1 and Row 2 (left) : carrots treated with a mixture of 4kg of PATEL-fertilizer per 80 kg of local garden soil.
Row 3 (center) : carrots untreated, growing in local, quite fertile garden soil.
Row 4 (right) : carrots treated with a mixture of 2 kg of PATEL-fertilizer per 80 kg of local garden soil.

See the remarkable difference in growth and this only 14 days after treatment.


Row 1 and Row 2 (left) : carrots treated with a mixture of 4kg of PATEL-fertilizer per 80 kg of local garden soil.
Row 3 (center) : carrots untreated, growing in local, quite fertile garden soil.
Row 4 (right) : carrots treated with a mixture of 2 kg of PATEL-fertilizer per 80 kg of local garden soil.

Still any doubts about the positive effect of PATEL’s fertilizer ?

In a couple of weeks, I will gladly inform you on the results of the carrot harvest by Edward VUEGHS. Stay tuned on the value of Yogesh PATEL’s organic fertilizer !


I am now wondering if this fertilizer can help us to combat drought and desertification. Therefore, I intend to use it in combination with our TerraCottem water and fertilizer stocking soil conditioner in some of the drylands, e.g. In the refugee camps in Algeria or in Tamil Nadu (India).

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Back from my mission in Algeria

Dear visitors of my blogs,

It took me a while to tackle all the classical problems of a longer absence : correspondence, reports to write, reply to emails, etc. But now I am back at my blogs and hope to catch up as soon as possible.

For now, let me tell you something about the success of our UNICEF project in Algeria “Construction of family gardens and school gardens in the refugees’ camps of Tindouf (S.W. Algeria – Sahara desert)“.

The Sahrawi people are extremely motivated to get their small gardens ready as soon as possible. From 208 gardens in 2006, the number of gardens grew to more than 1200. These gardens are treated with our soil conditioner TerraCottem (<www.terracottem.com>) to stock a maximum of saline irrigation water in the upper 20-30 cm of sandy soil. Seeds of vegetables are provided by UNICEF ALGERIA. Young trees are offered by the Forestry Services of Tindouf. Local schools are also participating in the project. Follow-up is assured by a Technical Committee and several agronomists.

In August 2007, I launched an action of seed collection in Belgium. With the help of the media (newspapers, radio, television), I invited my compatriots to send me the seeds of tropical fruits, which are normally thrown in the garbage bin (melon, watermelon, pumpkin, papaya, avocado, sweet pepper etc.). There was a massive and remarkably positive reaction of the Belgians ! For the first time, someone is not asking money for development cooperation, but only garbage seeds.

I received already more than 100 kg of seeds, half of which were already taken to the refugee camps on my last trip, or send by the Algerian Embassy for use in Algerian school gardens (another nice UNICEF project, called : “Schools, Friends of the children”).

It is really fantastic to see, for the first time in 30 years in these camps of the Sahrawis, vegetables growing in small desert gardens. What a splendid contribution to human health in those extremely difficult conditions ! This is the best way to provide continuously fresh food and fruits with vitamins and mineral elements, in particular for the children.

You look for success stories ? This is one of the best ! I will soon show you some more pictures.

Team with UNICEF seeds   Family garden Layoun  Family garden Layoun 2  watermelons in Dahla

(Click on the pictures to enlarge)

Unicef team and Sahrawis engineers carrying seeds from UNICEF / Some of the family gardens at the end of October 2007.