Great video explains how to turn sandy desert soil into fertile soil for low cost. This is now scientifically proven and being used in test plots in Egypt and many other countries. The secret is to mix powdered clay with sand then add plants and water to produce mycorrhizal fungi. Search related articles on our blog by searching for keywords such as desertification, soil, etc.

Be sure to watch the original video on TEDx where researcher Ole Morten Oleson goes into the details by. They’re using liquid nano clay (tiny particles of clay in water) and pouring it directly on to the desert. This method enables mycorrhizal fungi to grow on the roots. This simple breakthrough is producing results 416% better than any other method. The breakthrough was so startling and significant that no soil scientists would accept the results. It took six years to determine what exactly was happening and verify the experiments before other scientists would believe it worked.

Special thanks to Mark at I Am Organic Gardening who’s been publishing a whole series about how he’s building soil naturally and organically on his farm.

Insightful comment from poster James Kniskern: The idea is to get water to stay in the sand. Sand lets water flow down and out, leeching nutrients with it. Using clay, the water and nutrients stay where plant roots, fungus and soil life can use it. After a few years of crops are grown on this new soil, biomass builds up and holds those nutrients as well. Either the Chinese method of biogel or this nano clay method do this. Both are valid, and both seem to work just fine. What is needed is to get the foothold of life in the deserts, then, and only then can nature begin to do her job of making it green. And after it gets set up, forests allowed to grow, rain will again begin to fall on its own, as trees are rain makers too.

To this I recommend growing a forest garden in rows like we’ve recently started doing. This is a well documented type of agro forestry. This is the type of garden we’ve been growing for almost 5 years.


Comments

From Sand to Soil in 7 hrs! The Biggest Scientific Discovery Ever? — 5 Comments

  1. When will Nano clay be available to commercial ag industry in the United States? I could use some right about now. There are scientific papers explaining the polymer science of this technique since 2013.

  2. Yes Dr. Owen. Very exciting! Its a “miracle” in that the “impossible” has happened thanks to the unrelenting human search for a solution. “Necessity is the mother of invention” and “where there is a will there is away!” Soil from sand–wow! There is hope for our planet! Thanks for sharing.

  3. Email comments:
    Is nano clay the same as finely sifted clay powder? It’s easy to make clay powder and do a little experimenting. Mix it with water and see if it drains down through the sand. Maybe add a wetting agent such as a little liquid soap?

    Mixing clay with sand makes adobe or something similar? Yes, but in this instance I think they’re only adding a small quantity — just enough to stimulate the growth of micorrhizal fungi. The process is patented so anyone could check the % of clay used.

    Yes, it would be very, very hard to grow plants like this in the worst case situations. But there are many areas where it would likely work. Certainly it’s worth a try.

  4. The biggest question in the YouTube comments is about how to get water for the plants. Desalination does work but it’s costly and uses lots of energy. Keep in mind that sometimes there is underground water, periodic rains and/or nearby rivers and streams. Desert greening projects could be started in areas where water is available. You could start with drought resistant plants the first few years to minimize water use.

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