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Next generation of water storing humus

Irrigation water is stored underground and made available to the plants anytime. The effects are greener and healthier plants with greatly reduced irrigation water demand

Water storing Humus - Next generation

The next generation of water storing soil improver has arrived. This type of water saving humus is a novel soil additive with the special ability to store water and make it available to plants.

Superabsorbers have already been used for a long time in the hygiene industry, especially for baby nappies, and are capable of storing large quantities of water.

The new development is: The mineral contents from volcanic rock flour, clay minerals and silicates supply important nutrient elements and at the same time provide for the structural stability of the granulate in soil.

Unlike conventional, mixed granulates, these components in this particular humus are inseparably combined.

The porous, spongy, earth-like granulate forms a new class of material which stores water, thus making it available to plants. It can store at least 40 times its own weight in water, releases it back to the roots as needed, and, with the minerals contained in the flour rock, it provides for sustainable improvement of the soil quality.

In numerous studies it has been shown that the use of this humus leads to improved root formation, faster and better growth of plants, a greater yield and earlier harvest.

Characteristics

The characteristics of humus are listed in detail in the following:

  • More efficient water utilisation: Losses from leaching and evaporation are reduced, and irrigation intervals are extended considerably as a result. 
  • Nutrient supplier: With the rock flour contained in this humus the plants are provided with important minerals. 
  • Mechanical soil improvement: It improves the soil structure and ventilation through the expansion and shrinking of the granulate during the absorption and release of water. 
  • Reduction of fertiliser and pesticide requirement and groundwater protection: The humus reduces the leaching and drainage of fertilisers and pesticides. The use of fertilisers and pesticides and their drainage into the groundwater can be reduced as a result. Through a reduced drainage, nutrients and plant protectants are retained in the topsoil and prevented from migrating into deeper soil layers. 
  • Immobilisation of heavy metals: It has been verified in very recent studies that this type of humus immobilises heavy metals in contaminated soils.
  • Heat balance: It increases the heat storage capacity of the soil and the immediate vicinity along with it. As a result, frost damage from temperature fluctuations near the freezing point are buffered.
  • Harmless to health and environment: Numerous tests have proven that it is non-toxic and therefore safe for the environment. The soil additive is physically broken up by mechanical treatment while fungi and microorganisms can biologically degrade this type of humus.

Difference between Humus and previous superabsorbers

Conventional superabsorbers are made from 100% poly acrylic acid. They can absorb up to 400 times their own weigh in water. Superabsorbers, also called hydrogels, become gel-like on contact with water. They are only conditionally suitable for use in the plant and root area.

On the one hand, the thin gel reduces the soil aeration, on the other hand the water which is absorbed is bound so tightly in the gel that it can only be taken in by plant roots with a great effort. Superabsorbers, through their extreme ability to draw water, compete with plant roots for the available water.

This humus is a composite material made of mineral components and superabsorber polymers. It is a structurally stable granulate with a high water storage capacity. The organic components are responsible for the water storage, whereas the mineral components, in addition to their fertilising effects, provide for the structural stability of the granulate and thus prevent the gel bonding in the soil when water is absorbed.

In the process, the emergence of so-called barrier layers is prevented and a good air passage into the plant substrate is ensured, which contributes to the promotion of root growth and soil life.

Based on its polyhedral structure, the humus granulate naturally grabs onto soil particles, even in its expanded state, so that very little material reaches the surface. In addition, this type of new humus has a soil-like appearance, partly because of its dark-brown colouring.

Humus and superabsorbers. Humus reacts more like natural soil while superabsorbers may face the risk of water blockage and wet/fouling root areas damaging the plants

Typical questions

How long does he humus maintain its water-storing effect?

Depending on the soil type ad soil quality, between 3 and 5 years.


What happens to the humus at the end of its functional life? How is the humus constructed?

This humus does not leave any harmful materials in the soil. The rock flour is subject to the natural mineral decomposition which takes place in the soil and the organic component breaks down into CO2 and water. The decomposition process lasts several years, depending on the local conditions. On the basis of the molecular size, structure and the limited water solubility, the humus, like other natural, biological polymers (e.g. lignin) can only be slowly decomposed by micro-organisms. Mechanical processing provokes physical disintegration of the humus aggregate, whereas the enzymes of fungi and bacteria can provide for the decomposition at low-molecular rates and a conclusive mineralisation.

Higher molecular fractions can also accumulate in soil components and contribute to the formation of clay-humus complexes. Over the course of time, like the rest of matter of plant and animal origin, they are integrated into the natural humus cycle of the soil.

What does this humus consist of?

This humus is a new hybrid material. It consists of inorganic, pulverised rock flour (lavagold from controlled mining in Eifel National Park in Germany) and cross-linked poly acrylic acid. The fine stone particles are stored in a three-dimensional polymer network.

Cross-linked poly acrylic acid is completely non-toxic and environmentally compatible. It is used in baby nappies, contact lenses, skin creams, plaster, food packaging, detergents and dental fillings. What makes it unique is the fact that the two main components are not only physically mixed, they are chemically bonded together.

Poly acrylic acid provides the humus with its ability to hold water, whereas rock flour supplies the plants with minerals and nutrients and provides for the structural stability and soil aeration. The original matter for poly acrylic acid is acrylic acid. This is extracted from propane gas and/or renewable raw materials (starch, glycerine). The rock flour which is used is already in use in agricultural applications. It does not contain any acrylamide or other toxic substances in greater amounts than the permissible limit values.

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