The donation by Iris Kahl, a shareholder of Elspe Minerals, is for the testing of agricultural applications. Gypsum is a soft calcium sulphate mineral used as a fertilizer and as the main constituent in many forms of plaster, manufacturing of cement and drywall production. In Namibia, it is mined in the Erongo Region. Elspe Minerals indicated that: “Pricing will depend on particle size distribution, bulk vs. packaging, volumes, quality, distance from the mine (transport) etc. Farmers are welcome to contact us for once off bulk orders at this stage”.
“Many soils in Namibia can benefit from applications of gypsum to improve both fertility and structure,” remarked Dr Ibo Zimmermann, a consultant on the BUSH project. Most of the donated gypsum was subsequently handed over to Krumhuk Farm where tests are being conducted on a Kon-Tiki kiln built by BUSH for production of biochar from wood of encroached bushes.
The gypsum is mixed into a slurry with clay and water to apply to pieces of wood before being converted in the kiln to a biochar-mineral complex that provides multiple benefits to agricultural soils. Trials are being performed with this by two NUST students. Florence Kavarindi is doing her Honours project at Krumhuk, while Elma Matali is doing her Work Integrated Learning project at a farm of the Cheetah Conservation Fund.
NUST offers agriculture and natural resource management programmes supported by applied green research, innovation and entrepreneurship. The overall aim is to engage with communities for environmentally friendly and mutually beneficial partnerships