Reversing soil degradation in Northeast Thailand

Two years ago, IWMI, researchers from Khon Kaen University and farmer networks began to examine low-cost, ecologically sustainable, and locally accepted practiced technologies to reverse soil degradation in Northeast Thailand. The research focused on the potential role of bentonite clays in rejuvenating soils as an alternative to current, but unsustainable use of termite mounds and dredged materials from reservoirs. Since project inception, at least 500 farmer families in 200 villages in Northeast Thailand are directly involved and using clay based materials, which suggests 20,000 farmers are aware of the technology. Further, the Land Development Department (LDD) has adopted the clay-based approach, which includes use of co-composted waste bentonite technology that IWMI developed. This product (called LDD10) will be promoted to farmers during the 2005 annual LDD Farmers Day. LDD has indicated they will invest Baht 3 million this year on the program. LDD was also approach by Thailand’s Royal Project to assist in making the product available to their farmers.

There are also approximately 400 households in Cambodia each with an area of 0.2 ha that have been influenced or are using clay based technologies. In Vietnam, Dr. Andrew Noble of IWMI has been approached by the South Vietnam Agricultural Department for advice on the use of bentonites, and field trials will be established this season in collaboration with World Vision. Approximately 900,000ha in South Vietnam could benefit form this type of approach.

Source: Dr. Sawaeng, Khon Kaen University and Dr. Andrew Noble, IWMI.