Water is essential for every single living organism on the planet. We humans need it, animals need it, plants and so much more. I am not a scientist but I am a super geek about water conservation.

I recently attended a field tour of a research project sponsored by the University of Arizona Extension Services. It was amazing!

This is what I learned

Clay particles can be separated and combined with water to be used to grow plants in the sand. Desert sand can be pretty harsh for growing anything around the globe.

Ole Kristian Sivertsen, President & Group CEO of Desert Controls came to demonstrate to our local farming community at the University of Arizona Research Farm in Yuma Arizona. U of A is one of the research farms helping to test the product on actual plants in sandy soil and under the extreme heat conditions of Yuma.

They have created and patented a solution called Liquid Natural Clay ( LNC) and have vowed to make the earth green again by using this technology. I learned that it not only works with sand but with degraded soil. It can be done in 7 hours’ time, not days or weeks like the old-school way of adding nutrients to the sand.  Can you imagine? LNC on your sandy or degraded soil makes the soil better to grow in and will save water.

Clay soil holds water really well. Sometimes too well. But sand is like a sieve. All the water concentrates on one area and then quickly runs through it. Very little is absorbed. It’s a challenge when you are growing vegetation in the desert. By combining the clay with the water, the sand actually becomes a better growing medium.

Side-by-side comparison. Sand treated with LNC (left), Sand without LNC (right)

Test demonstrating using sand in glass jars. An equal amount of water was poured over the sand in each jar. The sand on the left was treated with LNC. The sand on the right was just plain sand.  The water in the treated jar puddled on top and slowly made its way through almost all the sand. The entire jar showed signs of wetness, all but a little at the bottom.  When water was poured on the untreated sand jar the water quickly formed a hole where most of the water made its way straight down. It took a while to actually start the spread throughout the jar. It also had a significant amount of dry sand at the bottom and around some of the edges. Even after only an hour, you could see the difference.

The texture of the LNC is very soft. Almost like a mineral powder used as makeup, only wet.  It stayed on the skin and formed a moisture barrier. Plus, my hand was not dirty or gritty from handling it. Some of us got to take home a sample to test on our own. I poured my liter bottle of LNC around my Valencia Orange tree.

Sand Without LNC. Will not clump up and is soupy.

Sand With LNC. Will clump like rich topsoil.

It will save money too by having to water less frequently. Ole Kristian Sivertsen, spoke of a study in Abu Dhabi where a date farm has been able to cut back from watering daily to watering every other day instead. The trees are thriving like they had been watered daily. I can’t calculate how much water savings that is but in my estimate it’s a lot.

The study at the University of Arizona Research Farm planted watermelon and green peppers. Some plots were planted using the LNC and some were planted directly into the sand. Each of the areas has been monitored and the studies are showing that they are using less water and have less kill spots in the rows by using the LNC product. They have provided zero shade for these plants in Yuma. That really surprised me too. I have to shade most of my vegetable garden to keep the water from evaporating and cooking the plants. Robert the supervisor, over the study said they are going to cut back the water to only 1 time per week and see how things go. I am anxious to hear about that too.

It was a hot day out at the research farm and I learned firsthand how essential water is to life in the Desert. I had not drunk enough water that day. I only was in the sun for a few hours and all before 10 am. As we were finishing up, I experienced lightheadedness, nausea, and near fainting. I was getting sick very quickly. I excused myself from the group. Robert hollered at me to grab a melon and some peppers to take with me.  I had my hands full with a notebook, a free sample of LNC in a water bottle, and my produce prize. It was all I could do to make it to my car. I was seriously worried I would faint along the way. I turned on the AC as high as it would go and chugged down 2 bottles of water. I thought that should help. Not so much, I sat in my car for a few more minutes. Thinking I have hydrated myself and I should be fine. I put my car in drive and then realized I could not see. The road ahead of me was a blur of tan and green edges. I thought my glasses were fogged up. I took off my sunglasses to check. Nope, it was my vision. At this point, I am not sure what to do. Driving will be dangerous and I could end up in a ditch. I decided that maybe I needed to eat something. The only thing I had in my car was a protein shake that was supposed to be my breakfast.  I downed it and another water bottle. Feeling a bit better I proceeded with extreme caution. When I slowly arrived at the entry gate my vision was restored and I felt much better. Nausea, lightheadedness, and dizziness were gone. Trouble averted finished my errands. By the time I got home, I was wiped out! Water is the key to staying hydrated and I allowed myself to get dehydrated. It could have been a really bad situation. I was lucky!

Why do I tell you all this? Well, the reason is, that I needed water, everything needs water, animals need water, and plants and vegetation need water. Water really is essential for living in the desert and on this planet.

Desert Controls has plans to release Liquid Natural Clay (LNC) to agriculture farms, tree growers, hobby farmers, and yes, to the general public.

It’s a life changer in my mind. Could science like this be one of the solutions to global warming?