Title:
SOIL CONDITIONER
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
Disclosed are soil conditioning products comprising: (1) one or more of an oil, a polymeric binder, a wax and a gel, or (2) a carrier and one or more of an oil, a polymeric binder, a wax and a gel. The wax is preferably a soy wax and the oil is preferably a soy oil. The invention further includes surface materials comprising a soil and a soil conditioning product according to the invention. Other materials may be added to any of these soil conditioning products or surface materials. If a carrier is used the soil conditioning product may be added to soil as a granular material, rather than as a gel or liquid.



Inventors:
Hubbs, Jonathan W. (Phoenix, AZ, US)
Application Number:
12/549239
Publication Date:
12/24/2009
Filing Date:
08/27/2009
Primary Class:
International Classes:
E02D3/12
View Patent Images:



Primary Examiner:
HAYES, KRISTEN C
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
SNELL & WILMER L.L.P. (Main) (400 EAST VAN BUREN ONE ARIZONA CENTER, PHOENIX, AZ, 85004-2202, US)
Claims:
1. A soil conditioning product for mixing with a provided soil, the soil conditioning product comprising: (a) a carrier; and (b) one or more of an oil, a gel, a polymeric binder and a wax, wherein the soil conditioning product at an ambient temperature binds together particles of the soil when mixed with the soil.

2. The soil conditioning product of claim 1 wherein the carrier includes organic binder.

3. The soil conditioning product of claim 2 wherein the carrier includes dried and ground plantago.

4. The soil conditioning product of claim 3 wherein the carrier includes dried and ground plantago seed husk.

5. The soil conditioning product of claim 4 wherein the carrier comprises 80% or more dried and ground plantago seed husk.

6. The soil conditioning product of claim 1 that comprises between 20% to 90% by weight of carrier.

7. The soil conditioning product of claim 1 that comprises 25% to 80% by weight of carrier.

8. The soil conditioning product of claim 1 that comprises 40% to 60% by weight of carrier.

9. The soil conditioning product of claim 1 that comprises wax.

10. The soil conditioning product of claim 9 wherein the wax is soy wax.

11. The soil conditioning product of claim 9 wherein the wax is an emulsified wax.

12. The soil conditioning product of claim 9 wherein the wax is a hydrogenated soy wax.

13. The soil conditioning product of claim 1 that comprises an oil.

14. The soil conditioning product of claim 13 wherein the oil is soy oil.

15. The soil conditioning product of claim 13 wherein the oil is mineral oil.

16. The soil conditioning product of claim 13 wherein the oil is petroleum oil.

17. The soil conditioning product of claim 13 wherein the oil is paraffinic oil.

18. The soil conditioning product of claim 13 wherein the oil is low-aromatic, vapthenic oil.

19. The soil conditioning product of claim 13 wherein the oil is cotton seed oil.

20. The soil conditioning product of claim 1 that comprises a polymeric binder.

21. The soil conditioning product of claim 20 wherein the polymeric binder comprises amorphous olefin.

22. The soil conditioning product of claim 1 that comprises wax and oil wherein the percentage by weight of wax to oil is between 1% to 30%.

23. The soil conditioning product of claim 1 that comprises wax and oil wherein the percentage by weight of wax to oil is between 1% and 15%.

24. The soil conditioning product of claim 1 that comprises a gel.

25. The soil conditioning product of claim 1 wherein the carrier and one or more of an oil, a gel, a polymeric binder and a wax are mixed together in a pug mill.

26. The soil conditioning product of claim 1 wherein the one or more of an oil, a gel, a polymeric binder and a wax are heated and mixed with the carrier.

27. The soil conditioning product of claim 1 that includes an oil and a polymeric binder.

28. The soil conditioning product of claim 27 wherein the polymeric binder is dispersed in the oil to create a formulation that is mixed with the carrier.

29. The soil conditioning product of claim 27 that includes 20-80% by weight of carrier.

30. A surface material comprising: (a) soil; and (b) a soil conditioning product mixed with the soil, the soil conditioning product comprising: (i) a carrier; and (ii) one or more of an oil, a gel, a polymeric binder and a wax, wherein the soil conditioning product at an ambient temperature binds together particles of the soil when mixed with the soil.

31. The surface material of claim 30 wherein the soil comprises one or more of the group consisting of sand, silt, crushed stone, clay and gravel.

32. The surface material of claim 30 that comprises between 5 to 100 lbs. of soil conditioning product per ton of soil.

33. The surface material of claim 30 wherein the soil comprises crushed stone and the crushed stone is decomposed granite.

34. A soil conditioning product including one or more of the group consisting of oil, gel, polymeric binder and wax.

35. A soil conditioning product comprising one or more of soy oil and soy wax.

36. A structure comprised of pebbles, stones and/or bricks and the soil conditioner of claim 1.

37. The structure of claim 36 that is a walkway.

38. The structure of claim 36 that is a driveway.

39. The structure of claim 36 that is a wall.

40. The soil conditioning product of claim 1 that includes a wax, an oil, and a polymeric binder.

41. The soil conditioning product of claim 24 wherein the gel comprises petroleum.

Description:

CROSS REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATION

This application is a continuation of U.S. patent application Ser. No. 11/452,107, filed Jun. 12, 2006, which is a continuation-in-part of and claims priority to U.S. patent application Ser. No. 11/007,658, filed Dec. 7, 2004, the disclosures of which are incorporated by reference in their entirety.

DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION

1. Field of the Invention

The invention relates to products that can be used to condition soil, surface materials comprising the products and soil, and processes for making the surface materials. Soil conditioning products according to the invention preferably include (a) a carrier and one or more of an oil, a polymeric binder, a gel and a wax, or (b) one or more of an oil, a polymeric binder, a gel and a wax. Surface materials according to the invention include a soil combined with a soil conditioning product according to the invention.

2. Background of the Invention

As used herein and throughout, the terms in quotations below are defined as follows:

    • a. The term “sand” refers to any granular material formed by the disintegration of rocks to form particles smaller than gravel but coarser than silt. Sand may or may not include organic matter.
    • b. The term “silt” refers to any unconsolidated sedimentary material with rock particles usually 1/20 millimeter or less in diameter, and being generally smaller than sand but coarser than clay. Silt may or may not include organic matter.
    • c. The term “clay” refers to any (1) inorganic earth surface material that is plastic when moist but hard when fired and that is comprised primarily of hydrous aluminum silicates and/or other minerals, or (2) substance having the properties of clay. Clay includes dry or wet materials and may or may not include organic matter.
    • d. The term “organic binder” refers to any carrier that consists primarily of organic matter and that tends to bind soil particles together when mixed with soil, wetted and subsequently dried. Organic binders include dried and ground plantago.
    • e. The term “carrier” refers to any material that is granular (or particulate) at room temperature and that, when mixed with one or more of a particular oil, polymeric binder, gel and/or wax forms a soil conditioning product that may be mixed with soil as a granular material rather than as a liquid. The carrier is preferably an organic binder such as dried and ground plantago.
    • f. The term “fibers” refers to any fibers, ribbons or strips of material used to add mechanical strength to soil.
    • g. The term “soil conditioning product” or “soil conditioner” means any mixture of (a) carrier and one or more of: oil, polymeric binder, gel and wax, wherein the soil conditioner is a granular material at least at temperatures between about 60° F.-90° F., and more preferably at temperatures between about 40° F.-100° F., or even a greater range, and that can bind together soil particles, or (b) one or more of: an oil, a polymeric binder, a gel and a wax.
    • h. The term “surface material” means any mixture of soil and a soil conditioning product according to the invention.

It is known to mix organic binder with soil to create an improved surface material and such a process and product are disclosed in U.S. Pat. No. Re. 35,989 to Hubbs et al. A basic description of one process according to that invention is to mix dried and ground plantago with soil, place the mixture on the ground or other surface in preferred depths of 2″-6″, wet the mixture, compress it and allow it to dry. The resulting surface is hard and this product and process may be used for, among other things, to form a surface on highway berms, parking lots, golf cart paths, walking paths, or baseball infield base paths. While this product has been successful, it must be wetted thoroughly and compacted to create a good surface. Further, before being wetted there is no adhesion between the soil and organic soil binder, so it can be difficult to position the material on a slope since the mixture tends to slide down the slope. Additionally, the resulting surface is not water resistant.

Another known way to condition soil is to simply use a polymeric binder. Known polymeric binders are usually solid, tacky materials at temperatures below 100° F. and must be heated (into a syrup-like consistency) and mixed with soil, which is a time consuming and difficult process. U.S. Pat. No. 5,559,166 to Beardon discloses a ground surface material comprising sand and at least one of clay or silt and a binder including an interpolymer polymeric binder dissolved or dispersed in a non or low aromatic oil.

The disclosures of U.S. Pat. Nos. 5,746,546 and 6,821,332 to Hubbs are incorporated herein by reference. The disclosure of U.S. Pat. No. 5,559,166, to the extent it discloses oils and polymeric binders that may be used, is also incorporated herein by reference.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

The present invention relates to soil conditioning products, processes for making same, surface materials including soil and a soil conditioning product, and processes for making same.

A soil conditioning product according to the invention preferably includes (a) a carrier, and one or more of an oil, a polymeric binder, a gel and a wax, or (b) one or more of an oil, a polymeric binder, a gel and a wax. Preferably the wax is a soy wax and the oil is a soy oil. Other materials may be added to any of these soil conditioning products.

A preferred process for making a soil conditioner comprises adding oil, polymeric binder, gel and/or wax (collectively, “constituents” and singly “constituent”) to a carrier. The one or more constituents are mixed with the carrier in such a manner that the carrier absorbs at least some of the constituents so that the resulting soil conditioner is granular at least at temperatures between 60° F. and 90° F. The constituent(s) may also be emulsified and added to the carrier as one or more emulsifications.

If multiple constituents are utilized, they are preferably mixed together before being mixed with the carrier or being mixed directly with soil. The mixing is done at a temperature at which the constituents utilized will mix together. Further, multiple constituents could be emulsified and mixed, or possibly emulsified together. Emulsified constituents may be added to a carrier or soil alone or in addition to other emulsified or non-emulsified constituents. Constituents may be added at different times to a carrier or soil, and other materials may also be added.

Surface materials according to the present invention include soil and a soil conditioning product. The surface material may optionally comprise materials other than soil, carrier and/or constituent(s).

A process for making a surface material comprises mixing a soil conditioner according to the invention with soil. Other materials may also be added. Granular soil conditioner utilizing a carrier could be mixed with soil using mixing techniques such as pug mill blending, raking, hoeing or bucket blending. Soil conditioner not utilizing a carrier may be added to soil as an emulsion or as a liquid, which may require heating of the constituent(s) before being mixed with soil. Such a soil conditioner can be mixed with the soil using any suitable technique, such as a concrete mixer or by raking, hoeing or bucket blending.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWING

FIG. 1(a) is a block diagram of a method for making a soil conditioning product according to the invention.

FIG. 1(b) is a block diagram of another method for making a soil conditioning product according to the invention.

FIG. 2(a) is a block diagram of a method for making a surface material according to the invention.

FIG. 2(b) is a block diagram of another method for making a surface material according to the invention.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION

The present invention relates to a soil conditioning product comprising (1) a carrier plus one or more of the following: an oil, a polymeric binder, a gel and a wax, or (2) one or more of an oil, a gel, a polymeric binder and a wax. Each of these components is described below.

Carrier

A soil conditioning product and surface material according to the invention may include a carrier (as used herein “a” carrier means one or more carriers). The carrier is preferably one or more organic binders, such as dried and ground plantago. If dried and ground plantago is used, it preferably includes plantago seed husk and preferably includes 80% or more plantago seed husk, and most preferably includes 90% or more seed husk. Other binders, either organic (such as powdered guar gum) or inorganic, may be utilized alone or in combination. In the preferred embodiment, the carrier or organic binder is one that absorbs or adsorbs part of the oil, gel, polymeric binder and/or wax so that the resulting soil conditioning product can be added (preferably without heating) to soil as a granular material at temperatures of at least between about 60° F. and 90° F. and most preferably at even a wider range of temperatures.

The amount and type of carrier or organic binder included is chosen to provide the desired properties of the soil conditioning product. Preferably a soil conditioning product that includes carrier comprises between 20 and 80% by weight carrier, although other weight percentages may be utilized depending upon the nature of the carrier and the type(s) of oil, polymeric binder, gel and/or wax added, the type of soil to which the soil conditioner is to be added, and the desired properties of the conditioned soil.

Oil

The term “oil” means any substance, such as a non or low aromatic oil, paraffinic oil, soy bean oil, cotton seed oil, other vegetable oil, petroleum oil, or mineral oil, into which a polymeric binder can be dispersed or dissolved. “Oil” could also be an aqueous solution, depending upon the nature of the carrier (if utilized) and other constituents (if utilized), although a non-aqueous solution is preferred. As used herein, “an” oil refers to one or more oils. An oil may alone, or in combination with one or more other constituents, be added to soil or a carrier in any suitable form, such as a liquid (with or without heating) or as one or more emulsions. In one aspect of the present invention the purpose of the oil is to provide a medium in which to dissolve or disperse the polymeric binder, gel and/or wax and create a formulation that may be mixed with the carrier to form a substance that can be added to soil as a granular material.

Among the suitable petroleum oils are those containing low or no aromatic fractions, and that are generally fluid at temperatures between 30° F. and 120° F. Examples of oils suitable for use in the present invention include paraffinic oils and low-aromatic naphthenic oils. A commercially available example of a paraffinic oil includes EXXON's 150 SE solvent extracted bright stock FN-2507, and of a low-aromatic naphthenic oil includes Cyclolube No. 2290 available from Witco. Additionally, soy oil, cotton seed oil, other vegetable oils, or mineral oil may be used. The most preferred oil is soy oil. An example of a commercially available soy oil is Archer Soybean Oil, product no. 86-070-0 available from Archer Daniels Midland Company, Oils and Fats Division, 4666 Faries Parkway, Ill. HT-100 mineral oil from IGI is most preferred among mineral oils.

Polymeric Binder

A polymeric binder according to the invention is any substance that may be dissolved or dispersed in an oil, that is tackier than and has a higher viscosity than the oil, and that provides adhesion between soil particles. As used herein, “a” polymeric binder means one or more polymeric binders. The polymeric binder helps to seal the outer surface of the surface material, because of the particle adhesion it provides, and because it preferably is water resistant. A polymeric binder may alone, or in combination with one or more other constituents, be added to a soil or a carrier in any suitable form, such as a liquid (with or without heating, depending on the properties of the polymeric binder) or as one or more emulsions.

Polymeric binders suitable for use in the present invention include interpolymers of butene, ethylene and/or propylene with ethylenically unsaturated monomers, including vinyl acetate, methyl acrylate, ethyl acrylate and the like. Other polymeric binders suitable for use in the present invention include amorphous polymers that are soluble or dispersible in an oil according to the invention. Commercially available examples of suitable polymeric binders include VESTOPLAST 608 or 708. The most preferred polymeric binder is VESTOPLAST S1, and is supplied by CREANOVA Inc., Turner Place, Box 365, Piscataway, N.J. 08855.

Gel

The term “gel” means a gelatinous material, such as petroleum jelly. A gel according to the invention can be used in place of oil, or in addition to the oil, or in place of the polymeric binder, or in place of oil and polymeric binder, or alone, or just as another constituent along with other constituents, depending upon the viscosity of the gel, its ability to bind soil particles, the type of soil utilized, the other constituents utilized, and the desired properties of the surface material. As used herein “a” gel means one or more gels. A gel may alone, or in combination with one or more other constituents, be added to a soil or a carrier in any suitable form, such as a liquid (with or without heating, depending on the properties of the gel) or as one or more emulsions.

A preferred gel is PETOX 310, which has the consistency of soft petroleum jelly.

Wax

A soil conditioning product and surface material of the present invention may include a wax. The term “wax” means any substance, such as soy wax, other vegetable waxes, microcrystalline-based slack wax, or paraffin wax, that has water repellency properties and softens when heated to between 80° F. and 400° F., and most preferably between 80° F. and 200° F., so that it can be mixed with (1) a soil, (2) one or more of an oil, gel and/or polymeric binder to be further mixed with soil or a carrier, or (3) a carrier. As used herein “a” wax means one or more waxes and a wax used in the invention may or may not be microcrystalline. A wax may alone, or in combination with one or more other constituents, be added to a soil or a carrier in any suitable form, such as a liquid (with or without heating, depending on the properties of the wax) or as one or more emulsions, powders or pelletized waxes.

The purpose of the wax is to help make the surface material firm, malleable and to add more cohesiveness between the soil particles. Waxes may also provide some water resistance to surface materials of the present invention. Any wax capable of performing these functions may be used. The wax is preferably heated to be mixed with the carrier, a soil or one or more of an oil, gel, and polymeric binder (after which the mixture is mixed with a carrier or directly with soil). The wax may alternatively be added to any of the above as powder, pellets or an emulsified wax.

Among the waxes that may be used to practice the invention is IGI 422. IGI 422 is a microcrystalline-based slack wax. It is recommended for use as a coating or for impregnating for waterproofing, sweeping compounds, metal protection, lubricating, polishing, tanning, and has the following physical properties:

ASTMSPECIFICATIONS
TEST METHODSMETHODMinimumMaximumTYPICAL
Drop Melt Point ° F.D 127166 (74.4)
(° C.)
Congealing Point ° F.D 938153 (67.2)167 (75)160 (71.1)
(° C.)
Kinematic Viscosity,D 44516.0 23.019.5
cSt @ 210° F.
(98.9° C.)
Saybolt Viscosity,D 216181.9111.496.4
SUS @ 210° F.
(98.9° C.)
Solvent Extractables*,D 3235*20.0
Wt %
Flash Point (P.M.), ° F.D 93464 (240) 504 (262) 
(° C.)
ColorD 1500 3.0
*Modified test method. 1 g sample/30 mls solvent (60% MEK, 40% Toluene)

FDA STATUS: IGI 422 is not intended for food contact.

IGI 1266U is another wax that may be used to practice the invention. IGI 1266U is a relatively high melting, refined paraffin wax and may be used for applications which do not require a wax meeting FDA specifications. IGI 1266U has the following physical properties:

Physical Properties

ASTMSPECIFICATIONS
TEST METHODSMETHODMinimumMaximumTYPICAL
Congealing Point ° F.D 938154 (67.8)160 (71.1)157 (69.4)
(° C.)
Kinematic Viscosity,D 4456.77.87.3
cSt @ 210° F.
(98.9° C.)
Saybolt Viscosity,D 216148.151.850.1
SUS @ 210° F.
(98.9° C.)
Oil Content, Wt %D 7211.0
ColorD 1500L1.0
(Off-
white/tan)
OdorD 18332
Needle Penetration,D 132112
dmm @ 77° F.
(25° C.)

FDA STATUS: IGI 1266U is not intended for food contact.

Each of the above-described waxes are sold by The International Group, Inc. (“IGI”), with locations at: 85 Old Eagle School Road, P.O. Box 384, Wayne, Pa. 19087 and 50 Salome Drive, Agincourt, Ontario, Canada M2S 2A8.

The most preferred wax is a soy wax. Among the soy waxes that may be used to practice the present invention are hydrogenated soybean oil product numbers 86-193-0 and 88-583-0 sold by Archer, Daniels Midland Company, Oils and Fats Division, 4666 Faries Parkway, Decatur, Ill. In alternate embodiments, the soy wax may be a partially hydrogenated soybean oil.

Soil

The term “soil” refers to particulate surface material of the earth, whether or not it contains organic matter, and includes one or more of sand, silt, clay and crushed rock, such as decomposed granite. Soil may include other components, such as pebbles or stones, as well.

A preferred clay comes dried in packages and is called “Mud Gel Wyoming Bentonite” sold by Baroid Drilling Fluids, P.O. Box 1675, Houston, Tex. 77251. However, it is believed that any clay could be used to practice the invention and the clay could either be dry or moist. Clay is typically used to provide particles that are cohesive when wetted to form a malleable, and sufficiently firm, surface material. A clay surface can be extremely firm when dry.

Virtually any decomposed granite (also referred to as “D.G.”) having sand particles may be used, including ¼″ D.G. or D.G. finely screened to 2 mil size.

Making the Soil Conditioning Product

Turning now to the drawings, FIGS. 1(a) and 1(b) depict some preferred methods of making preferred soil conditioning products according to the invention. First, if a polymeric binder and/or wax is used (70), oil and/or gel is preferably used, too. In that case, the oil and/or gel is added (10, 70) to a vessel (1) and preferably heated (20) to a temperature at which the polymeric binder and/or wax will dissolve or disperse into the oil or gel, or simply liquify. This is preferably a temperature of between 250° F.-400° F., and most preferably at a temperature of between 265° F.-280° F., and the temperature will depend in part on the melting point(s) of the gel, polymeric binder and/or wax utilized. The binder and/or wax may be added (30 and 40) before or after the heating step (20).

If both gel and oil are used, the weight percentage may vary from essentially all gel to essentially no gel. If polymeric binder is used, the percentage of polymeric binder to oil and/or gel by weight may vary over a wide range from 1 to 90%. In some embodiments the preferred weight percent range of oil and/or gel to polymeric binder is between 10 to 90% and in other embodiments between 1-30% of polymeric binder by weight is utilized.

Wax may also be added to the mixture in a preferred weight ratio of 1-15% of the total mixture of constituents added to the carrier (or to which the carrier is added). Soy oil and soy wax may be used in place of mineral oil and binder, in which case they may be used in approximately a weight percentage of between 1%-30% wax to oil and/or gel or more preferably 1%-15% wax to oil and/or gel. The most preferred weight ratio of oil to wax is between 25-100 lbs. of oil to 1 lb. of wax. Similarly, in any mixture of constituents that includes wax it is most preferred that the wax is present in a weight percentage between 1% and 4%.

The resulting mixture of oil, gel, polymeric binder and/or wax is preferably mixed (50) with a carrier, preferably in a pug mill, and preferably while the constituent(s) is still at an elevated temperature (for example, 250° F.-400° F.), at a weight ratio of about 10 to 90% carrier to constituent(s) or between 20% to 80%, 25% to 75% or 40% to 70% carrier to constituent(s).

One preferred embodiment includes VESTOPLAST polymeric binder, which is first mixed into IGI mineral oil. The ratio can be between 20-80% polymeric binder by weight. Carrier is added to this mixture between 50-90% carrier by weight, and most preferably about 70% carrier by weight.

Whether a constituent or mixture of constituents is being properly mixed with the carrier can be determined by visual inspection—the carrier will appear to be wet rather than dry and there would not be significant uneven mixing, with clumps or pools of different materials in the soil conditioner. The finished soil conditioner is preferably substantially uniformly mixed.

Wax or other constituents may be added (80) at any stage of the method of making soil conditioning products described herein. For example, a constituent, such as wax, could be dissolved or dispersed in the oil or gel, or emulsified wax could be added to the carrier before or after the carrier is mixed with an oil, gel, and/or binder mixture. One or more of an oil, gel, polymeric binder or wax could optionally be added and mixed with the carrier (60) after the carrier has been mixed with one or more of the other constituents.

Any of the constituents, and especially the wax, may be added to a carrier as an emulsion. An emulsion of wax (or of any other constituent(s)) can be stored and/or shipped in any suitable containers, such as cans, tanks or drums. An emulsion can be added to another constituent(s), or to a carrier or to soil in any suitable manner, such as by pouring it or spraying it.

Making the Surface Material

Referring now to FIGS. 2(a) and 2(b), a granular soil conditioning product according to the invention may be blended or mixed with soil (90 and 140) in any suitable manner. Among the suitable techniques are mixing in a pug mill, bucket mixing (also called bucket blending) using a front-end loader or bulldozer, hand or machine tilling in situ, using a pharmaceutical blender, or using a concrete mixer. Preferably, a soil conditioning product utilizing a carrier is granular without being heated and does not have to be heated prior to mixing with soil. Other materials, such as other soil materials, organic binder, wax, rubber particles or pieces, or fibers may be added to, or be present in, the finished surface material (100 and 150).

If the carrier is an organic binder such as plantago, the surface material could be watered, preferably compressed, and then allowed to dry (120, 130, and 190) to provide additional soil adhesion and to help disperse constituents such as oil, gel, polymeric binder and/or wax throughout the soil. For example, if the carrier includes dried and ground plantago, the mucilage of the plantago helps provide soil adhesion and to disperse the constituent(s) throughout the soil. The oil, gel, polymeric binder and/or wax provides water resistance and perhaps some soil adhesion, depending upon the adhesive properties of the constituent(s) used.

If the soil conditioner does not include a carrier it is preferably added to the soil as one or more liquids or as one or more emulsions. Such a soil conditioner may be heated prior to adding it to soil and the soil conditioner and soil can be mixed in any suitable fashion, such as by utilizing bucket mixing, raking, hoeing or a concrete mixer.

It is preferred that between 5-200 pounds, and most preferably 10-100 or 15-50 pounds, of a soil conditioning product according to the invention be added to one ton of soil, depending upon the consistency and type of the soil and soil conditioner and the desired characteristics of the surface material.

The surface material may be applied to a surface in any manner, such methods of applying surface material being known to those skilled in the art. Generally, the material would be placed upon the surface at a desired depth (110 and 160) and compacted or compressed (120 and 180), using any suitable method, prior to use. It may also be graded, raked, watered (170) and/or dried (190) prior to use.

The invention may be used for virtually any surface application, especially surfaces such as baseball infields, soccer fields, hand ball courts, tennis courts, horse training arenas, exercising, horse jumping surfaces, horse racing surfaces and equestrian surfaces of all types, parking lots, highway berms and embankments, golf sand bunker liners, golf cart paths, walking or jogging paths. A surface layer utilizing the invention can be any depth and would generally be between 2″ and 6″ depending upon the application, although the surface layer may be of any suitable depth. For example, a layer of about 6″ or more in depth could be used for pitcher's mounds or equestrian racing tracks. A layer on a baseball diamond base path could be between ¼″ and 3″ deep. Embodiments of the invention (either soil conditioner or surface material) may also be used to adhere stones (including flat stones such as flag stone), bricks, pebbles or other material on a path, driveway, barrier, wall (such as a retaining wall used for landscaping) or other structure. In that case the soil conditioner or surface material would be inserted, pressed or otherwise placed in any suitable manner into the spaces between the material to be adhered.

Having now described preferred embodiments of the invention variations that do not depart from the spirit thereof will become apparent to others. The invention is thus not limited to the preferred embodiments but is instead set forth in the following claims and legal equivalents thereof. Unless stated otherwise in the claims, method steps may be performed in any order capable of providing a product or result according to the invention.