This startup is turning desert lands into nutrient-rich soil

Desertification is human-caused degradation of land in dry climates and it has been on the rise. This is one of the contributing factors to the challenge of feeding a growing global population in a changing climate. Norwegian startup, Desert Control, is attempting to get ahead of this problem by transforming arid soil into nutrient-rich, food-growing soil.

So, how do they make this happen? Desert Control uses a substance called Liquid Nanoclay (LNC) to coat sand particles with a layer of clay 1.5 nanometers thick. This way, the soil can better capture nutrients and water rather than letting them flow right through it. 

The method doesn’t use any toxic chemicals, just clay, and water, and takes advantage of natural clay fertilization techniques that farmers have been using for centuries. The company is testing its method in a field near Abu Dhabi where they reported cauliflower and carrot yields that were 108 percent bigger in treated areas. Similar testing locations in Egypt reported a four-fold increase in the yield of wheat.

One drawback to this innovative method is cost. It currently costs between $2 and $5 to treat a square meter of land, which makes it unaffordable for many farmers. Additional research is also needed to assess whether the treatment impacts the broader ecosystem in any negative way.

Moving forward, the company plans to expand testing sites and scale up production to make the technology more widely available. If successful, this method could be an incredible solution for naturally restoring degraded soils, especially in vulnerable arid climates. This great solution was shared with us by an Emissary and we are excited to follow where the startup goes!

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