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.

Continue reading Tree growth with TC in Algeria

African lake levels dropping fast

Did you here about the bad news ? I could not resist to copy the major part of this article in my weblog.

Vast African Lake Levels Dropping Fast

Associated Press

December 09, 2006 | CHARLES J. HANLEY

JINJA, Uganda – At Jinja pier the rusty red hull of a Lake Victoria freighter sat barely afloat in water just six feet deep – and dropping. “The scientists have to explain this,” said ship’s engineer Gabriel Maziku.


At 27,000 square miles, the size of Ireland, Victoria is the greatest of Africa’s Great Lakes – the biggest freshwater body after Lake Superior. And it has dropped fast, at least six feet in the past three years, and by as much as a half-inch a day this year before November rains stabilized things.

Continue reading African lake levels dropping fast

Striga Eradication from Maize Croplands

Striga is a parasitic weed preying upon different cereals, causing food insecurity in many regions.

A new booklet on this subject was published in 2006. It is entitled “Empowering Farmers to Eradicate Striga from Maize Croplands“. African Agricultural Technology Foundation. Nairobi, Kenya. 17 pp.

Continue reading Striga Eradication from Maize Croplands


 I read regularly the newsletter of the African Crops News Service (ACNS), called “AFRICAN CROP NEWS“. It is a very interesting publication, in particular for those interested in food production in Africa, but also for a broader group of people interested in plant production under difficult conditions. The newsletter is “Delivering news. Improving crops“. In its Christmas 2006 edition, I found this information on a brochure that could interest many readers amongst us. Please have a look at

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Community garden (Horticulture) in Burkina Faso

Together with my team of the University of Ghent and in cooperation with the Dutch Committee Maastricht-Niou, I have set up different development projects in Burkina Faso since 1988. Reforestation and creation of community gardens for women have been the main topics (see other postings).

In 1997, we started the application of the soil conditioner TerraCottem (TC), as a project of the Belgian TC-DIALOGUE Foundation (see the website In the community garden for women of the village of Niou (Kourweogo Province, Burkina Faso), some 2500 square meter of the vegetable garden were treated with that water saving soil conditioner. A smaller part of the garden remained untreated (control plot).

Capacity building
1997-07 Capacity building in the garden : members of the local women’s association Gueswende got information about TC-application and its role (Photo Monique Van Endert 1997)

Continue reading Community garden (Horticulture) in Burkina Faso

Remarkable reforestation in Burkina Faso

In 1988, I was invited by the Dutch Committee Maastricht-Niou to carry out a reforestation project with my team of the University of Ghent (Belgium) in the village of Niou (Kourweogo Province, Burkina Faso). I will describe the success of that project later. Today, attention is paid to a similar reforestation project, set up in 1988 together with the Canadian Cooperation in Arbolle (Passoré Province, Burkina Faso).

It was decided to plant seedlings of a number of tree species with different dosages of TerraCottem soil conditioner (TC) on a clayey soil, completely barren in 1988 due to heavy deforestation by the local villagers during the preceeding years.

Start project
Hard clayey field completely denuded, due to firewood collection

First, plant pits were created and the excavated soil was mixed with different dosages of TC to study the optimal dosage under these local conditions. Some plant pits functioned as control plots (no TC was added to the local soil).

1988-07 Participation of local people in plant pit preparation
1988-07 Participation of local people in plant pit preparation

Continue reading Remarkable reforestation in Burkina Faso

Use of TC in Beijing 1999 (P.R.China)

Since 1995, the soil conditioner TerraCottem (TC) has been tested intensively in many locations in the P.R. China. It was successfully used for reforestation, horticulture, agriculture, landscaping, sports turf and some other specific applications, like growing flowering plants in containers and pots.

TC tests located on map of China 1999

A nice test case was the one at the Ministry of Forestry (Hepingli Dongjie, Beijing) were magnificent lawns were installed in front of the main entrance.

Lawns 02
Beautiful lawns

Continue reading Use of TC in Beijing 1999 (P.R.China)