Continuum offers a range of services providing remedial solutions for agriculture. Our services can repair degraded, over-farmed or eroded soil, improve yield and increase water retention while reducing the flow of nitrogen off the land and improving the availability of micronutrients.
Designing agricultural solutions
We design solutions that eliminate or reduce the need for chemical fertilizers and allow farms to convert to ‘Organic’ production over a few seasons without a break in production. Our agricultural solutions can also be used for the detoxification of soil contaminated by animal waste and to reduce the effects of other harmful substances such as salt or sulphur. We can also deal with acid soil and provide high-spec liming solutions for routine use.
Continuum provides the optimal soil solution by creating specific solutions for even the most testing of environmental circumstances such as water stress, pesticide or fertilizer damage and advanced soil erosion.
Whatever your needs, our service starts with a full environmental survey including chemical and biological analysis, water testing and analysis of ground water and aquifer conditions. Once completed, our technical team will design a repair, restoration or improvement scheme. They will then produce a customised remediation mix and application process designed to deliver each element of the solution in the most efficient and effective manner.
The benefits of Continuum soil solutions
The application of our solutions to soil in any condition or site (including rice paddy fields) will show significant advantages:
- improved productivity and greater yield
- eliminate the need for inorganic or chemical fertilizers
- pesticide use can be reduced or eliminated in some cases
- nitrogen is retained instead of flowing off the land
- manpower & equipment costs reduced through fewer applications of fertilizers & pesticides
- land can be converted to organic within a few years (depending on soil damage levels) while continuing to grow crops with increased yield during conversion
- reduced need for irrigation water
- the farming area in water-stressed regions is increased
Improvements to soil structure & biochemistry
- nutrient and mineral retention is enhanced
- moisture retention increases by up to 35%
- aeration, porosity, density and capillary rise are optimised
- the damaging effects of radio-isotopes on root systems is reduced
- heavy metals are captured and rendered chemically and biologically neutral
- the cation exchange capacity (CEC) increases which improves the health of soil and promotes plant growth
- soil pH is stabilised in optimal range
- the conversion of organically bound forms of nutrients into inorganic substances through inorganic, biological, or chemical reactions is slowed down or eliminated
- nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium, calcium and magnesium are retained rather than lost and ratios optimised
- micronutrients are retained and production enhanced
- sodium content in the soil, which is toxic to many plants, is reduced
Soil repair, restoration and improvement
A range of farm soil remediation components have been developed, each designed to fix a particular common soil problem or deliver a specific advantage. The customised solution we design for you will use these components as a basis, adding other minerals, micronutrients and biological additives as necessary to optimise the solution.
Our soil repair components are divided into 3 categories: Soil Condition; Bio-enhancement; and, Organic Liming.
Soil condition & bio-enhancement
Soil condition (SC) components are designed to handle commonly found problems such as the detoxification of animal waste, cleaning up deposits of unwanted metals and other compounds, the increase and stabilization of the soil’s pH, and the enrichment of the soil with minerals and other natural organic matter. It is the SC component that forms the base material for our remediation solutions
Each SC component is designed to improve water retention, reduce the loss of nitrogen, stabilise pH and improve the CEC (Cation Exchange Capability) of the soil. Productivity and yield are improved and the effects are long-lasting.
Our Bio-enhancement (BE) components are designed for the repair and restoration of soil affected by erosion, degradation or high salt levels. BE components are used in relatively small quantities and usually (but not always) delivered mixed into the base SC component.. When applied in strict accordance to our repair scheme, the results are impressive. Yield increases of 300% have been achieved. Land devastated by decades of chemical fertilizers can be returned to valuable use while detoxifying ground water and aquifers.
Our Organic Liming (OL) components are designed to provide a natural and organically acceptable source of calcium to arable soil. They can be used to counter the effect of poor soil fertility characterised by acid soil, a condition usually accompanied by calcium deficiency.
This type of treatment is normally achieved through regular application and used to treat acid soils of medium or heavy texture, thereby maintaining optimal growth characteristics.
The OL component can also be used compensate for a loss of calcium suffered through the washing out of the soil. The resulting soil degradation damages crop yields significantly. This can also be used to reduce the loss of calcium and other nutrients by improving water retention as well as restoring the soil’s natural fertility.
Application case studies
Mexican apple farm
Our US based technical team were asked to determine how to improve the yield of an established 17.3 acre (7 hectares) apple orchard in Mexico. The orchard consisted of some 6000 trees and had a baseline yield of 80 tons of apples per year. The average yield was 4.6 tons per acre or 13.3kg per tree.
After extensive soil and water tests the team designed a solution based on the SC and BE components with additional organic additives. Around 3kg of the solution was dug into the topsoil around each tree. This was done manually to avoid any damage to the tree roots.
The increase in fruit was a staggering 50% by the end of the first year and a phenomenal 250% by the end of the third year!
Average yield was increased to 47kg per tree. The orchard owners have also been able to reduce the use of pesticides by 40% and irrigation water by 25%, making significant annual cost savings.
The total cost of the treatment was less than 20% of the additional revenue achieved from the increased fruit yield.
Based on the success of the application the orchard owners asked for solutions for a new orchard they were planning to develop.
This new orchard was planned to be over 12.35 acres with 9000 trees. The tree density would be 730 trees per acre, which was just over twice the density of the larger orchard.
The topsoil of the new orchard was mixed with a soil-enhancement solution before the trees were planted. Again the results were impressive. The saplings grew at nearly double the rate of previous saplings in the same area and they are expected to produce their first yield after four years rather than the usual six. The yield per acre is expected to be double that of the older orchard. It is planned therefore that once the new orchard is in production the old orchard will be replanted at a similar density and again the topsoil will be treated with a tailored soil-enhancement solution before planting.
US potato farm
A farmer in the state of Idaho, the largest potato producing state in the US, wanted to reduce the use of fertilizers on his potato crop.
Each season he was applying fertilizer three times. The first time was to prepare the soil, the second after the seeds had been planted and a third in the middle of the growing season.
Each application was costing USD$800 per acre incurring significant material and labour costs. We were presented with a straightforward challenge: to reduce the material and labour cost of the fertilization cycle while maintaining the high quality of agricultural product and with no loss in yield.
Our team conducted the usual comprehensive soil and water analysis and formulated a soil repair application using a soil-improvement solution based on the SC and BE components. To test the application real time, it was decided to divide the potato fields into two sections, Section A and Section B. On Section A, the fertilizer was applied three times as was normal practise. On Section B, fertilizer was mixed with the soil-improvement solution and was applied at the same time as the first application on Section A. No further applications were made on Section B after that.
The results were very impressive. The single application of fertilizer plus soil-improvement solution on Section B at the start of the season met the challenge in all respects. The cost of materials per acre was reduced to USD$1300 compared with the usual USD$2400, a saving of $1100 per acre. The manpower costs were reduced by two thirds. The potato yield was sustained and there was no loss of any characteristics of the harvested potatoes compared to those from Section A.
Also when the technical team compared the post-harvest levels of NO3-N they discovered that in section B the level had dropped by 23% compared to the levels prior to initial fertilization, just 1% more than in Section A. This despite three applications of fertilizer containing nitrogen in Section A and clearly demonstrates that the loss of nitrates in the treated soil had reduced by two thirds, also reducing the contamination of run-off water.