Final Reply by Dr. Lucas Responds to Peter Webster’s Deleterious Effect of Seaweed on Soils Piece

The Editor

Barbados Underground

Bridgetown, Barbados

West Indies

Dear Sir/Madam,

In a blog (4th. August) in reply to my last article: Webster had this to say: “The only thing obvious about this statement is the contradiction i.e. that the sodium is leached and yet there is an accumulation. Barbados limestone soils are well drained and there can be no accumulation of sodium ions which are readily leached”.

My reply is as follows: “Webster is obviously out of his depth when it comes to surface chemistry and West Indian soils. Let me explain again for his benefit that since sodium has a smaller ionic volume/radius it not adsorbed as readily as potassium and therefore is leached down the soil profile. The black earth soils of Barbados have been classified by Vernon And Carroll(1965, ICTA) as soil type 30. Soil type 30 is what is called a montmorillonite soil ( and has what is known as a two -in one lattice structure). This soil type has a high clay content as can be readily attested after a rainfall by walking through it. The soil adheres to one shoes and is difficult to handle. Indeed after downpours pools of water are often seen dotting the surface of these soils. I will also now explain what is meant by capillary action that I alluded to, that Webster again selectively does not cite. After soluble salts have leached down the soil profile, when a period of prolong dry weather occurs, the soil pore-space acts like what happens when blotting paper is dipped in water. In the latter case water rises up the blotting paper by capillary action. A similar event occurs in the soil. Since there is a water deficit between the water content of the surface (lacks water) and the soil solution down the profile that contains salts (sodium, since I am dealing seaweeds), there is upward movement of salt containing water. When this water reaches the surface, solar evaporation takes place and the soil becomes saline.

I want to disabuse Webster of the view that by washing seaweed one can remove the salt it contains. According to TIC Gums product data the sodium content of various purified seaweed products are as follows per 100 grams. There substances have under gone several washing to meet food-grade standards.

Ticagel 121-AFG Powder Sodium: 619 mg.

Agaroid RS-507 Powder Sodium :

TIC Pretested Agar Agar 100 FCC/NF Powder Sodium: 487mg


Robert D. Lucas, Ph.D.and CFS.

Certified Food Scientist.

Agriculturalist Peter Webster Contradicts Prime Minister Freundel Stuart

portvale sugar factory

portvale sugar factory

Isn’t it disappointing and a poor reflection on the leadership in Barbados we have to endure the perennial blame game concerning the state and future of the sugar industry in Barbados? At last month’s Barbados Chamber of Commerce  and Industry (BCCI) Prime Minister Stuart  placed the blame squarely on the back of the private sector for the decline. Even if we accept Stuart’s position we have to ask him, who will lead? It is approaching mid-February and there has been no mobilization of the crop season to reap what is estimated to be 9,000 tonnes of sugar, the lowest in our history.

The average Barbadian is divided about whether sugar is uneconomic. Sadly the majority of positions taken are from uninformed position. Uninformed positions extend to social commentators (talk show hosts) who can be heard daily with positions like, let us follow the St. Kitts model. When the hell has Barbados been known for following lesser developed countries? Is this the sum of billions of investment in education?

Back to sugar!

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