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Home Grown: Liquid clay turning desert land into fertile soil

SOMERTON, Ariz. (KYMA, KECY) - In today's Home Grown, researchers are experimenting with desert soil because it typically can not grow crops successfully.

But thanks to a natural resource from Norway, growing on this dirt might be possible in Yuma County down the road.

"Down in the valley, down below, we have really rich fertile soils that were laid down by the Colorado River. Up here on the tabletop Mesa, we have sandy soils of the desert," said Robert Masson, Yuma County agriculture extension agent. "If we can do something to convert the land up here to look like the land down there, we can increase the amount of land that we use for agriculture in Yuma to grow vegetables."

Desert control, a company based in Norway, has conducted trials overseas, according to Tor Karlsen, chief technology officer with the company. Now, they are hosting the United State's first trial in our own backyard.

"Desert Control's vision is to make earth green again, and how we do that is by turning infertile soil into fertile soil," Karlsen stated.

This experiment attempts to turn dry desert soil into water retaining soil.

"How we do this is by applying our patented LNC, liquid natural clay," Karlsen explained. "With this LNC, we apply it to the ground, and the effect of the LNC is that the soil retains water and nutrition just like a sponge."

Clay is an abundant resource in Norway that helps the soil increase water-holding capacity and soak in fertilizers.

"What you will see is that you get less evaporation and also less water draining down into the soil," Karlsen said.

Which keeps the water centralized to the root zone. 

They planted two types of crops to put the clay soil to the test. 

"Then we're going to grow bell pepper and watermelon on top of it and see how much water and nutrition we have to use," Masson stated.

After harvesting, they will document the trial and see if it can be used in Yuma County long-term.

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April Hettinger

April was born and raised in San Diego where she loved the beach town and her two dogs, Lexi and Malibu. She decided to trade the beach for the snow and advanced her education at Northern Arizona University in Flagstaff.

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