Rural System, Inc.
 Sustained rural lands; sustained profits




Dover Pubs., non-copyrighted illustrations, 19th century sources

An Enterprise Producing a Certified Plant Growth Medium

Alpha Earth is a product of a new scientific system of automated and managed "pods" of populations of earthworms specially selected from many species (e.g., Enisenea fetoeda) and raised on an optimum mix of forage. The end result of passing forage and raw materials through the vigorous digestive tracts of populations of these miniature "ground hogs" mixed with soil amendments produce two major substances useful in restoring and building soils and plant growth volumes of Virginia and the Mid-Atlantic States. These substances, one for clay-soil areas, the other for sandy-soil areas, are called Alpha Earth and they are used to enhance and build productive gardens, landscapes, parklands, and flowerbeds. They are especially designed for

A penny saved fits the same purse as a penny earned.

With marketing innovations, other outlets and uses are contemplated.

While significant profitable sales are expected from the company producing Alpha Earth, the secondary Commonwealth gains are from reducing the costs of waste-stream removals, the costs of land-fill disposal, and the negative secondary effects of poorly disposed wastes. The waste streams of organic products (aqua culture, cattle and other livestock, pets, food product facilities and retail outlets) are to be processed in a scientifically monitored, managed, and controlled system.

The Alpha Earth systems are "pods" housed within small sheds with an outer surface compatible with the appearance of other local structures. Rather than take waste to the worm population processors, the pods are put in place near the waste. The pods are designed by a Virginia Tech Scientist, housed in a passive-energy environment, warmed or cooled by solar radiation, and waste is mixed with organic materials to produce an abundant, non-polluting, non-toxic soil-like unique planting medium for growing superior garden products - vegetables, fruits, and flowers with a Virginia brand name. Certain units may produce Smartwood certified product.

Alpha Earth is used to build Rural Gardens (to augment and support The Stables, Walnut Groves, The Products, The Rabbits Group, The Fishery, and Pseudosoils all described within www.RuralSystem.com.

Alpha Earth, the company, develops a raw materials stream of organic retail and industrial wastes such as hay, manure, and aquatic system materials. It may develop specialized product mixes such as Earths with with select sands or clays. It develops and manages pods of millions of earthworms that process some of the materials and, when mixed with the proper amendments, result in a commercial product.
Dover non-copyrighted illustrations, 19th century sources
The pods are sheds with vertically arranged trays of bedding. Bedding or forage mixes are carefully maintained and monitored. The zoomass and food complex, is a carefully controlled simple ecosystem.

The enterprise employs 10 people, each traveling to and managing 3 to 10 pods and their food streams (expanding to 100).

First products displays are possible within 1 year.

Dr. Lori Marsh (March 8, 2004) responded to a question about the usefulness of compost as kitty litter, saying that vermicompost is unlikely to be useful. It is hydrophobic whereas litter probably needs to be absorbent. (Later, it might be experimentally pressure-expanded as for walnut hulls.)

Dr Marsh said that a well functioning vermicomposting system (the proposed "pod" can produce 1-2 pounds of moist (75%) vermicompost per square foot of bed surface per week or 50 to 100 pounds per year. To get the initially proposed 500 pounds for each of 30 gardens, then 15,000 pounds is needed per year. Thus we need 150 to 300 square feet of bed area. This material can be housed in a shed with 6 shelves (about 9 x 6 with plastic trays of bedding material). Larger facilities can be developed for large waste streams.

She said if we used windrows, there's a need for 300 square feet. Raised beds could probably produce 15,000 pounds in 150 square feet. The utility of the activity and product:

  1. desirable waste disposal with low cost and "cost of business" tax advantages
  2. desirable widespread or local landscape disposal with potential "contribution" tax advantages
  3. direct use annually on all Rural System Gardens
  4. direct sales with marketing to nursery and landscaping centers
  5. direct sales to sensitive-area government and corporate projects
  6. direct sale to organic food growers
  7. use of worm populations as well as compost in funded research projects

Start-up funds needed are $50,000 for the design of the first pod and its instrumentation and staff salary. An estimated rate of return by the end of 5 years is 5% …with many other dimensions of "returns" related to reduced costs, rebuilding land and increasing its value, avoiding secondary costs and externalities, and offering savings from waste streams of existing or developing industries.

Notes

The organic fraction of soil affects plant growth in many different ways, and these are variable, thus clear relations can rarely be precisely established. The functions: changing soil moisture content, reducing runoff and erosion, reducing soil temperature, increasing organism activity, influencing freeze/thaw action, reducing evaporation losses, emit CO2, increase N fixation. Photosynthetic activity is stimulated by high CO2 levels in humic soils. Polyphenols from humus catalyze respiration rates, thus influencing water balance in plants. Soil minerals are released in dissolution following acid formation following humus breakdown. The more minerals, generally, the better the growth. The plant and soil and abiotic mix is infinitely variable so definitive statements are missing. Plants do absorb organic compounds and amino acids directly from humic soils. These include, according to Waksman) creatine, creatinine, arginine, histidine, guanine,xanthine, hypoxanthine, nucleic acid. Substances simulating DNA, RNA, and mRNA are increased in plants (Kristeva 1962). Some phytohormone auxins from humus stimulate cell enlargement (Wilkins 1969). See Richards Introduction of the Soil Ecosystem.

Worm extraction (vermifuge, a chemical irritant to bring them to the surface) from soils is possible with formalin, (now probably an illegal use), with liquid detergents (4 liters per 50 x 50 cm quadrat(many worms die)), potassium permanganate solutions, and probably least destructive or harmful to surrounding conditions is a with a mustard solution 25 ml per liter. Hand sorting is most efficient but it is slow and laborious.


Perhaps you will share ideas with me
about some of the topic(s) above at

RHGiles@RuralSystem.com.

Maybe we can work together
... for the good of us all
... for a long time.

Return to the top of page.