HELP International

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 Leading edge environmental program at HELP
Rodney Sidloski and international researchers examine agricultural projects at HELP International, as they research new ways to protect forestry, horticulture and recycling methods that can be used world-wide. From left are Victor Mariga, who works in the agrisector in Kenya; Amélie BoisRobert, an agricultural university student from France; Katherine Chania, a registered nurse from Kenya; and David LaSala, a forestry engineer from Spain. These international researchers, along with four environment and international development studies students from across Canada, have been assisting in 16 projects at HELP International. The goal of HELP International is to provide cost-effective solutions to boosting the agricultural sector in Canada, and developing effective technologies that can be used in Third World countries. 
Research intern program offered in Weyburn
'Leading edge' training at HELP International facility
Both international and Canadian researchers have been volunteering at HELP International's Centre for Ecology Research and Training in Weyburn for the last three months. International volunteers include a community health nurse and forester from Kenya, an agriculture land and systems engineering student from France, and a post-graduate forestry engineer from Spain. This was in addition to the four environment and international development studies students from across Canada.

"Our researchers from France and Spain are completing their time with us in the first week of September and several Canadian researchers are completing their time with us at the end of August," said Rodney Sidloski, CEO of HELP International.

The Kenya interns have just arrived and will be carrying out research for the next six months. "HELP's internship program is evolving into close to a year-round program with internships this year having begun at the end of March and will continue into February of 2011," explained Sidloski. "Also in February of 2011, a new raft of interns will arrive for the 2011-12 programming year."

These volunteer researchers are assisting 16 projects being carried out at HELP International, covering areas of forestry, horticulture and zero waste recycling. The program is totally independent of government funding, as the researchers have come to Weyburn for training and participation in leading edge environmental research.

"It's far more exciting getting the information by seeing the experiments in progress and hearing the stories from the researchers themselves who are exciting to talk with and listen to," said Sidloski. "They also have interesting accents and a flavourful use of the English language, which is their second and sometimes third language."

In regard to forest research, HELP International is searching for the "two penny tree", by padding plastic mulch around tree seedlings at their location. Sidloski explained, "We are testing whether the simple procedure of placing a plastic mulch pad around the seedlings can help them survive and replace the old growth trees."

Researchers are also testing whether trees grown in floating Styrofoam blocks thrive as well as trees floated only 50 per cent at the time, in a patent-method of growing trees in troughs of water. "If the 24 hours a day, seven days a week system works as well as it proves to so far, it would mean that HELP could produce a half million trees seedlings without any construction of a nursery by simply using an average size farm dugout to place a flotilla of Styrofoam blacks filled with tree cuttings," said Sidloski.

Another exciting research project is growing living mulch with a tree container root, by purposefully growing select species grass plants inside thousands of tree plugs. "This is extremely exciting research whose application could result in zero weeds growing up with the plastic mulched tree hole due to the fact that HELP is introducing a 'preferred' culture or weed to grow the tree thereby leaving no space nor surface moisture to allow for weeds to take hold."

HELP International also tests varieties of poplar trees to metabolize soils contaminated by oil spills; determines the positive or negative impact of different irrigation mediums for trees; conducts super root tomato research; offers a zero-waste facility in regard to recycling; and studies production of "50 cent" beehive research.
- Weyburn Review, August 2010.

 © HELP International 2014