How does Perlite solve the problem?
70 to 80 percent of all water use in California is dedicated to agricultural farmland. Farmers typically water their fields every few hours but runoff costs are high. A significant portion of the water used to replenish the crop and soil is never absorbed. Water is wasted and in our arid climate, costs continue to rise.
Our solution is to add ½ to 1-inch of popped Perlite on top of agricultural soil. At about a 15 percent mixture, this layer of perlite-rich soil now easily absorbs slightly more water during the irrigation period. Then, as the soil dries, the perlite particles slowly release water back into the soil so the roots have access to the water. Farmers irrigate as often at a frequency as often as 5 hours and sometimes even every 5 days, depending on type of plant, soil infiltration rate of water, available water capacity of the topsoil and maximum allowable depletion. If the interval between irrigating sessions can be increased by 15 – 20 % based on the perlite enriched topsoil that now has increased water absorbing capacity, the farmer saves water by about 15%.
Perlite may last many decades in the soil, constantly undergoing tens of thousands of cycles of water absorption/release during this time period. As a result of adding Perlite to soil, farmers can extend the time between irrigation periods with the same amount of soil hydration. In other words, they save 15 to 20 percent on water costs using the simplest of water techniques, the reservoir—but on a microscopic scale. When water is abundant (during irrigation), the trillions of tiny perlite particles absorb excess water and then during times of less abundant water (the time period prior to the next irrigation), the reservoir releases the “reserved” water, reducing the feast/famine extremes for the plant roots.