By Dale Carter
Back in 1991 My father had a stomach ulcer which he would blame me for whenever it flared up. Evidently, I was causing him distress and upsetting him.
For decades, everyone thought stomach ulcers were caused by stress, or diet and the treatment was to reduce stress and change your diet. Temporary fixes most of the time.
Then along came maverick medical researcher Dr. Barry Marshall from Perth, Western Australia who had a different theory.
He believed it was an overabundance of a bacteria called Helicobacter pylori. In a very unconventional move, he drank a batch of the bacteria and gave himself stomach ulcers.
Dr. Marshall then treated it with a series of tablets aimed to kill off the bacteria and it worked.
This is how I see the thousands of articles on how to fix sandy soil water repellence on the web. From trusted sources like the ABC Gardening program that publish articles like this one on soil wetting agents and gels. Unfortunately, soil wetting agents are temporary solutions being sold as the big fix for the problem. Much like stress reduction and diet changes for ulcer sufferers.
My father heard about this new ulcer treatment, was tested for Helicobactor pylori which he had at high levels and was treated successfully. He hasn't had an ulcer in 30 years since.
Amazingly at the time, A senior doctor friend of mine still refused to believe that a bacteria caused stomach ulcers and this was belief was common across the medical profession. It took over a decade for the research and results to convince doctors.
Now doctors worldwide prescribe a simple treatment for stomach ulcers.
But, what does this have to do with how to prevent or fix water repellence in soils?
Farmers and researchers alike have discovered that adding kaolin clay to sandy soils to the right proportion will permanently stop soil from being able to become water repellent.
Check the results here - https://soilquality.org.au/factsheets/water-repellency, summarised below.
The susceptibility of a soil being or becoming water repellent will be determined not only by the presence of hydrophobic material, but also soil texture (Hunt and Gilkes, 1992). Coarsely textured sandy soils that contain less than 5 % clay are very susceptible to becoming water repellent. In a study done by Harper and Gilkes (1994), it was found that water repellency only occurred in soils with less than 10 % clay and was most severe for soils with less than 5 % clay. Although not as common, water repellency can occur in certain soils with a finer texture if the soil has a strongly aggregated structure (Moore, 1998). The repellency occurs when the aggregates become coated in hydrophobic material (Harper and Gilkes, 1994). In Western Australia, soils in coastal sand-plain regions generally have the greatest risk of water repellence.
So, Soil Wetters are old temporary 20th-century technology and kaolin clay is the permanent 21st century solution to dry and water-repellent soils.
Soil Solver Clay Plus Minerals is the perfect mix of kaolin clay, silt, and rock minerals to permanently stop water repellence from being developed in your soils. It is the permanent soil amendment perfect for water-wise and budget-conscious gardeners with sandy gardens.
Eventually, 20 years later from their discovery, Dr. Barry Marshall and Robin Warren won the noble prize for their findings. Below is the press release.