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Tim's Comfrey Project
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NZ $3,145 pledged
55 people pledged
NZ $3,000 minimum target
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Tim's Comfrey Project
Project 2015-02-08 13:53:28 +1300
Hi, I’m reaching out for support on a citizen science project I’ve just launched and need a bit of cash to run some experiments, if my hunch is right it could help allot of people around the planet.
There’s this ancient Russian herb called comfrey, the king of accumulators, that has some very beneficial characteristics. It was much heralded back in the 1950’s as a bit of a miracle plant for agriculture but when the age of chemical fertiliser swept the planet it was forgotten about by most.
For subsistance farmers, where self resilience is of paramount importance , It can provide significant benefit, fertilising soil and crops by mining deep down soils, a vitamin B12 source, healing herb and a protein source for animals and people.
But there’s one big problem, comfrey harbours varying amounts of naturally occurring toxins called PA’s, similar to those you might find in green potatoes. They’re pretty nasty, so much so that comfrey as a protein source is currently off the table.
There is a great deal of debate about PA’s, about how nasty they are and how much is nasty. My research avoids this debate by assuming PA’s are as nasty as they come. Rather I want to test a hypothesis posed back in the 1950’s that by simply wilting comfrey under certain conditions for a period of time these PA’s degrade, effectively removing them. Back then to test this was quite problematic and expensive but with recent developments in testing technology it’s much easier.
Also some recent research in NZ has shown that PA’s in Ragwort, a common weed on farms, do degrade when handled in the way I’m proposing. So I want to run a few lab tests to determine the potential for this simple approach that may make comfrey usable. I have a test program ready to go and it’s going to cost around $3000. If these initial tests show promise then it will give me enough information to plan and seek funding for a full research program. All of my results will be published for everyone under creative commons license.
If you could help with some spare cash and/or pass the word on I would be forever grateful. And If you want to know more about comfrey, read this - http://piginthemud.com/comfrey
Tim's Comfrey Project - Research program update
30/08/2015 at 4:05 PM
Hi everyone, thanks again for your support of my project. A quick update for you ...
A comfrey wilting experiment to degrade PA in the plants was carried out under controlled conditions with suitable controls. We have begun analysis at Cawthron Institute using liquid chromatography mass spectroscopy (LCMS) to ascertain the base level of PA’s in a freshly harvested comfrey leaf. So far the methods routinely used there were unable to detect PA’s from our sample. This does not necessarily mean the PA’s aren’t there, rather it’s that the PA’s are of a type that have not been previously tested for at Cawthron in other plants. Cawthron scientist’s are now investigating development of a new method using reference standards specifically suitable for comfrey that will allow us to follow PA levels during the wilting experiment that has been performed. The samples from the experiments are safely desiccated in the freezer until the method has been validated. I’ll be in touch with an update following this next phase in the program.
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2015-04-10 19:02:07 +1200
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2015-04-10 01:52:11 +1200
"Good luck......nice project.....my wife has been growing lots of borage"
2015-04-09 22:04:15 +1200
2015-04-09 21:48:59 +1200
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2015-04-09 16:57:40 +1200
"The blue flowers of Comfrey are great for bees too. All power to you :)"
2015-04-09 08:30:26 +1200
2015-04-08 21:38:11 +1200
"A great project!"
2015-04-08 21:02:06 +1200
2015-04-08 11:38:03 +1200
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2015-04-08 10:54:05 +1200
2015-04-08 08:16:39 +1200
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2015-04-07 22:53:25 +1200
"Good luck with your research :)"
2015-04-07 20:03:14 +1200
2015-04-06 14:08:56 +1200
2015-04-03 13:15:37 +1300
2015-04-03 11:39:15 +1300
"Go well. Let's know if you find further knowledge on the B12 aspect - be great if it undergoes changes that make it absorbable by humans!"
2015-04-02 16:53:57 +1300
"Great research topic. Comfrey is an amazing plant."
2015-04-02 13:09:01 +1300
"Awesome work Tim- This will be very valuable"
2015-04-01 20:47:31 +1300
"I look forward to hearing of your results. I wish you every success."
2015-04-01 19:42:00 +1300
"Love your work Tim. Look forward to the results."
2015-04-01 09:21:03 +1300
2015-03-31 21:41:56 +1300
"Go Tim. Sounds like a brilliant research area."