Desert Control turning deserts into fertile land

Norwegian startup, which aims to help the UAE to become food secure, finds India as a potential major market

Desert Control deploys Liquid NanoClay (LNC) technology in the UAE and sees prospects to help hundreds of countries facing desertification.

Hyderabad: Climate change and global warming degrade land, spread deserts and rise temperatures in a vicious cycle. It is estimated that 12 million hectares of productive land perishes annually due to drought, land and soil degradation. Growing water scarcity magnifies this challenge. Disrupting this trend by restoring ecosystem and fostering sustainable use of scarce resources is crucial. This is where Norwegian startup Desert Control steps in with its patented Liquid NanoClay (LNC) technology that enhances health of sandy arid soil by reducing salinity and improving the ability to absorb and hold water and nutrients.

Desert Control is a ClimateTech company specialised in transforming deserts and restoring arid soil into fertile land. The startup, which also has presence in the UAE, has a patent to produce LNC in a chemical-free process, allowing usage in green ecosystems to restore and protect land and soil from degradation.

The LNC is a mineral-based, 100 per cent natural product. Norwegian scientist Kristian Morten Olesen has patented the process to mix nano-particles of clay with water and bind them to sand particles to condition desert soil.

How is it made?

LNC is produced on-site with mobile production units, much like concrete is mixed on-site for construction. The primary clay particles get processed into NanoClay flakes (nano-sized particles). Each particle is shaped into a chip, 1-2nm thick with diameters up to 300nm (1 nm equals to 1 millionth of a millimeter).
LNC can be poured directly to the surface, and the clay will automatically percolate the ground and form bonds between soil minerals, thus increasing the ability to absorb water. This process allows areas to be treated with less than two kilos of clay per square meter.

Applications

Ole Kristian Sivertsen, CEO, Desert Control, told Telangana Today, “Desert Control has been established in 2017 with over 10 years of R&D and field testing prior to the incorporation. The core focus is to make earth green again by restoring and protecting soil crucial to biodiversity.”
He added, “R&D has been led from Norway and testing has been conducted in multiple countries including Egypt, Afghanistan, Pakistan, the UAE etc. The uniqueness of LNC is that it is a liquid solution nearly as thin as water. That means it is easily applied to sandy soils and can even be used on existing vegetation non-intrusive and non-invasive. The patent is approved for the technology, process and mechanics. Any country/area with sandy soils and areas exposed to desertification will benefit from the technology. More than 110 countries are on the United Nations’ list for desertification exposure.”

LNC has wider applications that include farming, agriculture, food production; reforestation and projects to reclaim degraded and desertified land; climate impact projects; commercial greenery such as urban development, parks, sports fields and cultivated green outdoor areas that require irrigation in areas with sandy soil.

India potential

Desert Control, which has so far been operating in the Middle East, said it has not tested India market yet. He said, “We have identified India as a potential major market. More in-depth study needs to be done in terms of soil analysis to identify which regions and areas have sandy soils where LNC will be an effective treatment.”

The UAE today imports 90 per cent of its food and is aiming to become self-sufficient by creating arable land for farming and produce food locally. The company aims to help the UAE become food secure by around 2070. The effort will be phased but may be accelerated after seeing the consequences of Covid-19 on food supply chains. “We are still early-stage and first milestone is to scale up production capacity, industrialise mobile factory units and thereafter commercialise at full scale,” Sivertsen added.

Author: Willem Van Cotthem

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

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