TerrAffix Soil Solutions was invited by Murphy Rail to trial our re-vegetation system on a rail embankment that was proving particularly challenging.
The site was a steep slope of thick, cold clay sub-soil and it was susceptible to heavy run-off over the winter. Previous attempts at establishing vegetation had failed as this sort of soil can be a difficult material for new plants.
Clay can shrink and expand in response to heat and water and it can go from being very wet and cold to very dry.
These changes can sometimes happen quite quickly, making it difficult for plants to cope.
TerrAffix trial in background
To get plants to grow it is essential to provide the basis for life: moisture, sufficient organic matter to act as a soil-forming material, nutrients and a stable surface during germination.
Following the site survey we decided to use a two-stage revegetation system for the most effective results. We began with an application of TerrAffix-HydraSoil with a microbiological inoculant and a nutrient carrier. This mixture also helps to retain water within the developing root zone during the summer months.
We applied our own fully biodegradable tackifier formula which is composed of a mixture of natural, plant-based materials and sugars. No polyacrylamide was used, which is an everyday tackifier used in hydroseeding.
We then applied a coat of TerrAffix-HydraMulch with seed and natural plant nutrients. This application creates a stable surface on steep slopes, securing the seed in place through germination.
Vegetated soil on the railway embankment post treatment with TerrAffix-HydraSoil and TerrAffix-HydraMulch
We selected seeds from a mixture of fast-establishing species to get some initial cover as well as some deep rooting species. Deep rooted plants tend to be more resilient to drought and act as natural near-surface ground anchors.
The application was made in November which happened to coincide with above-average rainfall. Nevertheless the vegetation established successfully and created a robust, resilient sward.
A key material we use is biochar which is produced at our centre. Biochar not only confers a considerable advantage to plant growth but also sequesters atmospheric carbon dioxide.
Our products come with a carbon lock guarantee which can be accounted for within any corporate social responsibility targets.
TerrAffix HydraSoil close up
A three-year research project into the use of biochar for sustainable soils backed by UN Environment has culminated in excellent results and a thorough endorsement of biochar.
The project trained 500 farmers across six countries to make and use biochar. Johan Robinson, Portfolio Manager for UN Environment Biodiversity and Land Degradation, says:
“The project has demonstrated that nature-friendly solutions have multiple benefits for communities. From improving the productivity of soil to achieve higher yields, to helping manage waste and increasing carbon sequestration capacity – the advantages are clear. It’s now time to think about how to upscale the findings of the project to reach even more farmers globally”.
The multiple benefits of biochar
The exciting results of this project, which included enhanced plant growth (15-20% in one farm’s case) and a significant reduction in the need for fertiliser, highlight the economical and environmental benefits of using biochar made from locally available biomass residues.
TerrAffix Soil Solutions Ltd® is leading the way in the production and use of biochar as a soil remediation solution.
It is already recognised for its value to improve poor or polluted soils and as an element of green roofs. However, its carbon sequestration abilities have been less well understood or recognised up until now.
This UN project adds weight to our belief that biochar can have a fundamental positive impact upon our world.
Greenroof enhanced with Biochar
Biochar in a booming bioeconomy
Polluted landscapes can be recovered, re-establishing soils and vegetation. This means that pollutants are immobilised or soaked up before they reach water courses. Biochar sequesters atmospheric carbon dioxide as it fixed carbon into soil and is used to re-establish the soil ecosystem.
If our technologies, which use biochar as part of the solution, are taken up for use on highly polluted sites and roadside swales around Europe, we could see the start of a really green revolution – a bioeconomic revolution using renewable biological resources.
Biochar’s carbon sequestration abilities will help us to achieve a sustainable global future and reduce the impact of climate change.