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Underground Poly “Troughs” Hold Moisture Under Crops
In the late 1960’s, Alvin Smucker was an enterprising Michigan State University graduate student. He was working with 2 professors on a radical new way to create water barriers in sandy soils. Their concept was to lay thin troughs of asphalt 1 to 2 ft. under the soil surface to hold water for plant roots. The idea appeared to work, but the machine they developed was confiscated in Libya where it was being tested, and the project was dropped.
  Dr. Smucker is now a professor of Soil Biophysics at Michigan State and he has resurrected the idea. He’s working with a Canadian company that’s testing a machine that lays heavy duty poly in curved troughs underground rather than asphalt.
  “It has the potential to transform barren landscapes into sustainable plant production regions. It could transform lives and communities,” Smucker says. He has tested and proven the concept in dry areas of Michigan and in West Texas, where cotton yields were bumped an amazing 500 percent. “Water retention layers reduce the needed quantity of irrigation and protect portable groundwater supplies from fertilizer and pesticides,” Smucker says.
  Per acre installation costs are $1,400 to $1,800 and improved yields from vegetable crops could pay that back in 1 to 2 years. Smucker says some yields in Michigan doubled, tripled and even quadrupled after installation. Better yet, “it’s a zero-maintenance system with sustainable water-holding capacities up to 300 years,” he adds.
  Smucker is currently testing the concept in blueberries as well as fruit and nut orchards. RWF BRON, the Canadian manufacturer, has patented its new machine and continues testing in the U.S. and around the world in arid regions.
  Contact: FARM SHOW Followup, Dr. Alvin Smucker, Michigan State University (Smucker@msu.edu). Also, RWF BRON, 873 Devonshire Ave, Woodstock, Ontario, Canada N4S 8Z4 (ph 519 421-0036; www.Bronrwf.com).

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2015 - Volume #39, Issue #4