Sandy soil is not normally considered suitable for growing vegetables and fruits. However in some areas of Âu Lạc (Vietnam), cultivating crops in such soil has proven to be a feasible and
effective way to provide a dependable and sustainable source of food.
Halo, kind viewers. On this edition of Planet Earth: Our Loving Home, we talk with a group of
Aulacese (Vietnamese) farmers from Bình Thuận Province, a coastal regionin Central Âu Lạc (Vietnam), about their experiences of raising produce in sandy soil.
Utilizing simple planting techniques, these diligent farmers have successfully cultivated various vegetables and fruits in sand, including onions, white radishes, peanuts, bananas, coconuts and mangoes, and so on.
We now go to Bình Thuận Province in Central Âu Lạc (Vietnam) to learn more about this unique agricultural method.
We start with Ms. Nguyễn Thị Minh Sơn, a local farmer, about what she grows in the sandy soil.
A: The quality is better, it’s higher in quality. Around here, mostly people grow onions; other types of crops are fewer. Still, after the onion season, they cultivate other crops in order to improve the land. For example, they grow peanuts, or melons or tomatoes.
Q: Could you please let us know why do you choose to cultivate vegetables in sand?
A: In the past, I didn’t do farming here, but there was one year I grew vegetables to sell only for the New Year. I had some good results, so I continued to do it. Seeing that others could cultivate well, I followed them. The result is fairly good.
HOST: Mr. Lê Công Lai is cultivating a large plot of land with sandy soil.
Q: Do you think that the results of cultivating in sand are as high as in other normal soils?
A: Yes, it’s high.
Q: How large is the area that you’re farming right now?
A: This area here is about 8,000 square meters.
Q: What do you usually grow on this land?
A: Mostly peanuts, then white radish, then onion. Onion season is in June.
Q: How many seasons do you harvest each year?
A: In one year, if we grow white radish, then it’s about four seasons or five seasons.
Q: Do you think that the white radish when growing in sand, will have a better quality compared to growing in normal soils?
A: If comparing with the normal soil, then the white radish here are whiter, longer and look better. And in normal soils, the white radish will be shorter, not so white, and a little bit brownish- black.
HOST: Through years of practice, these Aulacese farmers of Bình Thuận Province have developed a set of effective cultivation techniques for use with sand.
A: The amount of fertilizer is moderate, we cannot fertilize too much. We use little fertilizer, because if we use too much fertilizer, the crops will not survive. The crops will die, they cannot survive.
Q: Do you use a lot of water when cultivating in the sandy land like that?
A: Generally speaking, we do need water. We have a little water here. The moisture capacity here is very low.
Q: When we grow many kinds of vegetable in sand like this, do we need more water for irrigating, compared to cultivating on normal soil?
A: We just water when it’s dry; (yes) we water freely. But in the wet season, we don’t have to water too much, and it saves electricity. (Yes.)
HOST: Farmers like Mr. Đỗ Văn Đền also have adopted other measures to keep the moisture in the sand at an appropriate level.
A: In the wet season, I make the sand for cultivation higher, as high as that, then let the water flow through to the gutter.
But in the dry season, I make it flat, cultivating crops at a lower level. But in the wet months, we have to make it higher,or they (the crops) will be submerged in water.
This month I begin to lower (the soil) slowly, to bring it to a lower level for us to irrigate easily, (yes) to save electricity. It’s that simple, very simple. (Yes.)
And if we want to grow tomatoes, then we have to sow the seeds until they grow into baby plants, then we plant them outside.
Q: Is it the same with white radish?
A: White radishes are the same as tomatoes or anything. But with these peanuts, I buy the baby plants; they’re not grown from seeds.
HOST: Apart from water shortage, growing food in sandy soil also raises concerns about the effects of the winds. How do the farmers overcome this issue?
When we return, we will share more about the experiences of a group of farmers from Bình Thuận Province in Central Âu Lạc (Vietnam) who are cultivating vegetables and fruits in sandy soil conditions.
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HOST: Welcome back to Planet Earth: Our Loving Home. Today, we are speaking with farmers from Bình Thuận Province in Central Âu Lạc (Vietnam) who are raising crops in sand.
This unique cultivation technique is very simple and can be practiced by anyone. Sand-based agriculture also helps ensure local food security in those areas lacking rich, fertile soil.
The effects of wind on sandy soil are something farmers must address.
Q: I hear that with the sand, there is a phenomena like dust from the wind. Usually, there is wind
hitting the sand, and that makes the sand fly away. Do the phenomena affect your crops?
A: Yes it does, sometimes strong wind can make the sand fly, thus burying the crops.
Q: So how do you solve this problem?
A: Only land that is a little higher up and without protection is affected. Sometimes they use tea-plants and set them up in rows, or sometimes they plant grass like this so that it stops the wind a bit.
HOST: The farmers also utilize coconut fronds, which can be found in abundance in their region, to safeguard their crops from the undesirable effects of the wind.
A: They build walls; they use coconut fronds. There! They made a fence like that. They erected it with the coconut fronds –like that side, it has to be covered.
Q: Sand often drifts, and slips away. So how can we keep the sand stable, so that the trees can
penetratee their roots into the sand to grow?
A: Because we grow the trees close to each other like this, then it cannot drift away.
HOST: Ms. Nguyễn Thị Minh Sơn says that the crops grown in sand are quite well received at the markets and are popular because the quality is very high.
Q: So what is the result when we harvest?
A: The quality is better. Everything is delicious when eating! We feel that it’s more delicious. The same with onions and tomatoes and everything, (like) fruit. In general things here are more delicious.
Raising beans in sandy soil definitely has benefits.
Q: Comparing the beans that you’re growing here, with the beans that are cultivated in normal soil, are they a lot different?
A: They are different, Because in the normal soil, they have to dig them out, and uproot them in order to get the bean, but here we just pull them up.
Q: So it’s easier to cultivate in sand, isn’t it?
A: It’s easier than in normal soil.
HOST: These diligent and clever Aulacese farmers have achieved great returns from cultivating in sand.
Q: In your farming area, in half of a hectare, you cultivate banana, coconut, mango, and fruit trees. Is it enough to cover all the expenses of a normal farmer’s life?
Q: Yes it’s enough, easily.
Q: Are the earnings enough to provide for your entire family?
A: It’s enough for all.
A: Here, I’m just cultivating about 2 percent of the land, but other farmers do 100%. They reach 100%, because they have a lot of children. They can do a lot. So they can earn up to about 50, 70 million VND. (NFT: USD$2850 to USD$4000)
Q:So if we can do farming on sand like that, we can eliminate hunger and reduce financial difficulties for those families that are living on sandy land like this, can’t we?
A: Yes. That’s right.
HOST: The successful crop yields by these Aulacese farmers prove that humans can utilize what is thought to be just “unproductive sand” to produce high quality vegetables and fruits, and aid in achieving food self-sufficiency.
Q: Mr. Lê Công Lai can cultivate peanuts in this white sand with superb results. These are the peanut plants that are cultivated and harvested by Mr. Lê Công Lai.
Can the many farming families around here implement this method so that they can cultivate like you and also get good results?
A: Yes, this method is popular here. A lot of people are doing it, not just here, and they also get good results.
Q: So in an area of wind and sand like this, we can still live. And we can grow some fruit trees or vegetables, and we increase income or profit, right?
Q: However sandy a place is, we still can cultivate it?
A: Yes, we still can cultivate.
HOST: Our appreciation goes to the famers of Bình Thuận Province whom we met for sharing their experiences of growing fresh and nutritious vegetables like lettuce and fruits like mango in the sandy soil of their region.
May these hard-working cultivators inspire those who have similar soil conditions in their part of the world to also raise a variety of vibrant crops