Exciting New Scientific Collaborations with CoolPlanet™ and ExploGrow™
Following CSD’s recent study evaluating the effects of coconut husk biochar and biofertilizer on the germination and growth of cover crops, the team is excited to announce a collaboration with CoolPlanet™ and ExploGrow™ in the team’s upcoming experimental study beginning this spring. CoolPlanet™ is an American founded company who produces engineered biocarbon technology for use in livestock, agriculture and fuels. ExploGrow™ is a South African company that produces and sells a biological fertilizer containing a blend of beneficial soil microbes. The CSD sustainable agriculture research team will be evaluating the effects of different compositions of biochar (CoolTerra™, in situ made coconut husk, and invasive tree species Casuarina) inoculated with seaweed liquid extract biofertilizer and ExploGrow™ biological fertilizer on the germination and growth of tomato seedlings, a common production crop. The team hopes to broaden their research evaluating organic soil amendments and the growth of healthy production crops to further the Center for Sustainable Development’s initiative of an edible and educational campus promoting the concept of living better in a place.
Update on the Biochar and Seaweed Liquid Extract Experimental Study
The sustainable agriculture research team has wrapped up the experimental trials evaluating coconut husk biochar inoculated with seaweed liquid extract biofertilizer on the growth and development of cover crops (Photo 2). As the team continues to analyze data, early analyses indicate certain cover crops (e.g. Cowpea, Vigna Unguiculata) prefer sandy soils with no additional nutritional or soil amendments. Although contrary to the teams’ expectations, this preliminary result has positive economic benefits for local farmers and agriculturalists in tropical regions dealing with nutrient poor sandy soil characteristics. Positive economic benefits are also noticed surrounding the application rate of seaweed liquid extract biofertilizer, with preliminary results indicating increased growth of plants at low concentrations. The team continues to compile and analyze extensive data sets and will provide an update in the following months on the final results of the study.
The study provided insight into the biology of our Bahamian soils and with this knowledge the permaculture and farm team has been planting cover crop mixes including Cowpea within the orchard, chicken pen and open beds around the Cape Eleuthera Island School with great success (Photo 3). The cover crops require no nutrient additions or maintenance and offer an additional food source to the chicken colony while restoring the natural health of surrounding soils. Furthermore, the research team and the Fall 2017 Island School students collaborated with Pineapple Fields Condo Resort and Hotel in Governors Harbour, Eleuthera, and the addition of coconut husk biochar and seaweed liquid extract biofertilizer had positive effects on Cowpea growth in an un-manipulated field environment (Photo 4). The Center for Sustainable Development is very excited to implement the knowledge gained from conducting this scientific study.