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01/21/06 - Invention of 'Alternative Soil' to reclaim deserts

The "Alternative Soil" invention by two UAE engineers, Hadi Al Mansouri and Khalid Mubarak Saeed is considered as a major break-through in the science of agrology. It is crucial for the agricultural development of the country not only because it will curb desertification but also because it will lead to reclamation of vast barren areas which are now lost to aridity and desertification. The innovation is the first ever of its kind in the world.

"In simple terms, the alternative soil is derived from a technical treatment of tree, plant and household waste by adding substances that enable the soil to enhance its fertility and keep up to 80 per cent of its irrigation water for as longer period as possible", said Khalid Mubarak Saeed, a co-inventor. He revealed that the invention was announced after laboratory experiments that achieved excellent results.

These results, he added, proved that the alternative soil far out-performed even the most fertile of soils, including clay soil that is usually found on the Nile Delta. It is environment-friendly and viable.

It is also easy to produce in the sense that you only need to transfer red soil from Al Ain, for example, to any part of the UAE. All that you need to produce this soil is mixture of paper, wood, plant and agro-wastes, in addition to some chemical substances. A treatment of these elements produces alternative soil".

Al Mansouri told the Abu Dhabi-based "Al Assima Magazine" that the technical features of the alternative soil are that it tends to be solid, a solidity that enhances the fabric of subsoil and thereby prevent sand movement.

Lack of sand movement is a key factor in stiffening the soil and therefore curbing desertification, explained Al Mansouri. "This pioneering invention could be used to improve various soils, including saline and clay soils.

We have reached conclusions that it is only the ecology that determines fertility factors of the soil. When we conducted experiments in high-saline and clay soils, the results were impressive. Even in environments where temperature was 47 degrees, the performance of alternative soil was excellent.

If land reclamation was seen in the past as an expensive project, it will now become very easy with this new technology. All that is needed to reclaim a land is to cover it with a layer of alternative soil that has a thickness of just 3 centimeters.

After a period of between 2-6 weeks, an another layer will begin to form as a result of many factors. This new layer will be fertile for agriculture. It will continue to grow as it is nurtured by plants' roots until its thickness reaches 10 centimeters".

Apart from the enormous benefits of land reclamation and desertification stoppage, the invention will enable UAE farmers to lessen if not abandon the use of fertilisers.
              Jerry Decker - http://www.keelynet.com
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