Tree growth with TC in Algeria

On November 14th, 2006, I posted on this blog a short message on the success booked with TerraCottem soil conditioner (TC) in Algeria (see “Success with TC in Algeria“).

I told you that Unicef Algeria invited me in 2005 as a scientific consultant to study possible improvement of the living conditions in the refugee camps of the Sahraouis people in Southwestern Algeria (Sahara desert), looking for ways and means to enhance local food production. The main objective was to look for new possibilities to grow vegetables in small family gardens in the refugee camps in the desert, irrigating them with a minimum of brackish water, taken from the subsoil.

A Memorandum of Understanding was signed with the Belgian TC-DIALOGUE Foundation, through which a project was set up to construct a large number of family gardens in different refugee camps. In these gardens, the soil conditioner TerraCottem (TC) is used to limit the consumption of fresh water for irrigation and to limit the application of fertilizers.

Already in 1983-1992, I have developed a soil conditioning method (called “TerraCottem“, see the website with that name ) at the University of Ghent (Belgium). With this granular soil conditioner one is able to stock a lot of water and nutrients in the rooting zone of the soil and to improve the microbiological activities and the formation of a larger root system. The result of all this : a better plant growth with less water and less fertilizer.

In October 2005, a small demonstration test was set up in front of the Sahraouis Ministry of Public Health in Rabouni (Tindouf area, Algeria). One out of 10 already planted seedlings of the Prosopis tree was treated with 30 g of the TerraCottem product. In November 2006, I showed you already a number of pictures showing the effect of TerraCottem (TC) on that seedling.

Today, I am publishing a new series of pictures, showing the remarkable effect of the TerraCottem (TC) soil conditioner on plant growth under dry conditions.

2005-10 TC-treated seedling 02D
2005-10 : Just reaching to our knees ! : Young Prosopis treated with TC, observed in presence of the Minister of Public Health of the R.A.S.D. (center) and the Representative of Unicef Algeria, Mr. Raymond Janssens (right).

2005-12 TC-treated Prosopis
2005-12 : Excellent growth of that young tree in 2 months time : from 30 cm to more than 100 cm with only minimal watering.

2005-12 : Control plant still small : from 30 cm to 40 cm, although getting the same minimal amount of water as the TC-treated plant and at the same moment !

Construction works
2006-05 : Due to construction works, most of the control plants had to be destroyed. Only one control tree subsisted (right one).

Surviving trees
2006-05 : The two surviving trees : Left, the TC-treated one already 150 cm high, Right the control one only 45 cm high.

Control tree
2006-05 : The surviving control tree : poor growth (15-20 cm in 7 months time).

TC-treated Prosopis
2006-05 : The TC-treated Prosopis : splendid growth (120 cm in 7 months).

TC Prosopis
2006-12 : In 14 months time the TC-treated Prosopis is already more than 250 cm high. The Sahraoui Minister of Public Health, two of his staff members and two consultants of UNICEF ALGERIA confirmed the remarkable effect of TerraCottem on the growth of this tree. Unfortunately, the last control plant died in August 2006.

TC-treated Prosopis
2006-12 : This beautiful young tree is not watered anymore ! In order to promote stem formation it was decided to prune it.

TC-treated Prosopis
2006-12 : Pruning all lower branches to create better stem formation. All pieces of branches put around the stem on the soil for composting.

Pruned Prosopis
2006-12 : The TC-treated Prosopis is pruned and reddy for continuing outgrowth.

Prosopis pruned
2006-12 : Full expectations for a fantastic outgrowth in 2007. The demonstration test is a complete success : with only 30 g of TC soil conditioner and minimal irrigation this young tree reached 250 cm in 14 months. The control plants did not develop well.

Author: Willem Van Cotthem

Honorary Professor of Botany, University of Ghent (Belgium). Scientific Consultant for Desertification and Sustainable Development.

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