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The Desert Research Institute (DRI) recently assessed the accessible peer reviewed scientific work on inorganic soil amendments, including diatomaceous earth and zeolite minerals. Lassenite®is a naturally occurring, inorganic amendment produced by Geofortis that is a mixture of volcanic ash (e.g., zeolites) and diatomaceous earth materials. The DRI scientists found that “each of these materials by itself can be effective and economically valuable as a sand and soil amendment for managing soil water in specific environments and under severe environmental conditions. These findings (1) indicate the likely favorable function of Lassenite®that is made up of two of these components, and (2) provide strong justification for rigorous quantitative testing of Lassenite®under both controlled environment and field conditions.”
DRI also reviewed research reports about properties and use of Lassenite®in both laboratory and field scale tests. DRI noted that the hydraulic properties of sandy soils could be improved, citing one study that showed that when Lassenite®was mixed with sand at 10% by volume, significant improvements in soil water characteristics were observed. Most significantly, plant-available water increased by +17%.
The DRI team analyzed data provided from an agricultural testing program using Lassenite®over a 4-year period and calculated a water use efficiency index for each site by dividing the grain yield by the number of irrigations. “The results of the study showed an overall significant reduction in the number of irrigations, and presumably irrigation amounts, required in field plots treated with Lassenite®mixed into topsoil. For wheat, the number of irrigations per growing season was reduced by -41%; for corn -34%. Yields of wheat and corn remained unchanged, as did the mass of a grain. Water use efficiency (WUE = grain yield/number of irrigations) increased dramatically for both wheat (+57%) and corn (+80%). These are encouraging numbers and reason for the cautious optimism that the DRI experts have voiced about the possibility of successfully applying Lassenite®to critical crops in California’s Central Valley to achieve similar results”.
Geofortis and DRI recognize a need for more rigorous research into the physical/chemical properties and effects of Lassenite®as a soil amendment, particularly for specific soil types and plant species critical to our customers. We are exploring a collaborative program to drive this research to optimize production and delivery methods, evaluate enhanced ammonium availability by absorbing ammonium to Lassenite®prior to application, and further improving irrigation methods.