As a result of climate change we increasingly see longer periods of drought or, on the other hand, extreme rainfall. This has a great impact on farmers on sandy soils. Clay soil enhances the resilience of sandy soil, strengthening its capacity to handle extreme weather conditions. Clay can also increase the fertility of sandy soil. In the LIFE CO2SAND, Rijkswaterstaat, (the Dutch Directorate-General for Public Works and Water Management) and the Province of Gelderland match the supply and demand of clay soil. We are applying the ‘clay-in-sand’ principle in 5 demo fields. Farmers, area managers and land designers are welcome to visit these ‘field labs’ and make use of this technique for their own soil.
Contribute to climate objectives
Especially now that farmers cannot or at least far less frequently irrigate their land, this is an excellent solution. In addition, clay can retain higher levels of organic matter in the soil; this not only contributes to lower CO2 emissions but also offers a valuable natural raw material to create fertile agricultural soil. So we also contribute to the climate objectives.
Clay for sandy soil: demand finds supply
Farmers need to improve the quality of their farmland. There is a surplus of clay soil, which is not used at this time. In lowland areas, clay is extracted in nature restoration works and area development for road & house building. This clay is suitable to improve drought-sensitive sandy soils of farmers. The clay particles enable the soil to retain more water, organic matter and minerals. More organic matter in the soil goes with a reduction of greenhouse gasses in the atmosphere. This helps to slow down climate change.
700 hectares of climate-proof agricultural land by 2027
We transport clay that is released in creating nature areas and in building roads and houses, to drought-prone sandy soils of farmers.
|We assess the quality of a parcel. Together with the farmer we determine which clay is most suitable and how much clay we need to sustainably improve their soil.
|We work with 5 demo fields. Each demo field is different and each farmer works differently. This enables us to gain experience with different local circumstances, clay types and ways of applying the clay.
|On the demo fields we measure how much extra water the soil retains through the clay, and the change in soil fertility. We also measure differences in organic substance levels between the treated fields and untreated soil.
|We engage with policymakers and land developers responsible for clay releasing projects to promote the inclusion of clay delivery to farmers in planning studies and tendering procedures.
|We share knowledge with farmers, researchers and authorities by publications, demo days, congresses and calls.
|We develop education kits for business consultants and agricultural schools.
The South and East of the Netherlands are part of the European ‘sand belt’. This belt is covered with sandy soils that are prone to droughts. The belt runs from Flanders in Belgium to Belarus and has intensive agricultural use. This is the target area of LIFE CO2SAND.
What are the results?
Farmers, land designers and area managers are encouraged to visit the 5 demo fields and use the technique for their own soil.
Expected LIFE CO2SAND results:
- Water conservation of 10 mm per drought period;
- In the long term an extra capture of 1.9 tonnes of CO2-equivalents per hectare per year;
- Higher crop yield;
- Reduced leaching of fertilisers and minerals;
- Value-added reuse of released soil.
Other sectors may use available clay as well. By applying clay to peat lands, peat oxidation slows down and soil subsidence is reduced. Clay can also bind organic substances in compost or bokashi so they decompose more slowly.
In the coming years, we organise a demo day 5 times a year to show the ‘clay-in-sand’ principle. We exchange knowledge and experiences on demo days. Together with the participants, we explore opportunities and challenges in order to further improve the technical aspects.