Bananas: Cost-Benefit Analysis for MinPlus (Volcanic Basalt Rock Dust)


Bananas: Cost-Benefit Analysis for MinPlus (Volcanic Basalt Rock Dust)

T.D. Edwards

The Harding Brothers farm in Queensland, Australia has been doing trials with rock dust since mid-1985.

 

The Results:

  • Fertilizer applications have been reduced by 80 percent.
    • Saving in fertilizer costs
    • Minimizing environmental damage caused by runoff contamination.
    • Dolomite application reduced by 50% and at 16 months there is no sign of magnesium deficiency. This deficiency was a problem prior to using Min Plus.
    • The banana plants are more healthy with vigorous root systems.
    • 25% higher yields.
    • 20% increase in growth rate, resulting in a faster turnoff of fruit.
  • The sum of these benefits has resulted in an incredible 80% increase in production with a substantial decrease in fertilizer cost:
    • Fertilizer savings per year = $3,647/Ha
    • Increased crop value per year = $53,125/Ha
    • Total cost benefit per year = $56,722/Ha

 


Banana growers Kevin and Gary Harding have been trialing rock dust from Pin Gin Hill quarry since mid-1985. Using experience gained from these trials they radically altered their fertilizer application, and in August 1990 planted out a 4 hectare block using the product of MinPlus rock dust as the main fertilizer.

The Harding Brothers Farm is on the Palmerston Highway 15 km west of Innisfail in Queensland, Australia. Bananas are grown in pairs at 1.8 spacing in loamy riverflat soils of basalt origin. The rows are 5m apart, giving the stool density of 2,200 per hectare. Each 2 hectare block of bananas is cropped for 4 years and then followed by plowing in sorghum and chick pea.

The results of using MinPlus on the Harding Brothers Farm are as follows:

    1. Urea and potash applications have been reduced by 80%, thus giving significant savings in fertilizer cost and minimizing environmental damage caused by runoff contamination.
    2. Dolomite application has been halved and at 16 months there is no sign of magnesium deficiency. This deficiency was a problem prior to using MinPlus.
    3. The banana plants are healthier with vigorous roots systems and 25% heavier yields.
    4. There is a 20% increase in the growth rate resulting in a faster turnoff of fruit.
    5. The sum of these benefits has resulted in an incredible 80% increase in production with a substantial decrease in fertilizer cost.

Sam Catalano and Pacific Minerals Developments

I started farming when I left school, and noticed that wherever there were stones in the field everything grew better and was more resistant to drought, disease, and pests. I often wondered why.

In 1982 I established a quarry in the middle of a cattle run. After the first operation the cattle would sit on the ridge opposite the plant until we washed the plant in the afternoon, then they would walk through clean water in the adjacent stream to drink the wash water from the plant. Following that their grazing habits changed to the downwind side of the crushing plant where the fine dust was depositing. All this coupled with my previous experiences of crops growing better in the presence of rocks led me to ask questions, bringing me into contact with Dr. Gavin Gillman of CSIRO, Townsville, who had previous experience with rock dust in Hawaii and was continuing his work in Australia. After Dr. Gillman left Australia I transferred my work to Queensland University with Dr. Ross Gutteridge and Chris Searle.

In 1987 I established Pacific Mineral Development Pty. Ltd. to research and process mineral rock dusts. In 1991 I commissioned the first plant in Australia to fine grind dry volcanic rock dust to minus 380 mesh.

Sam Catalano
Pacific Mineral Developments
594 Innisfail
595 Queensland
Australia
Phone: 070 644 118
www.minplus.com.au
enquiries@minplus.com.au


Additional Charts

COST BENEFITS OF MINPLUS IN BANANA GROWING

For the purpose of analysing cost benefit the following fertilizer costs and banana prices have been used:
Urea$21.66per50kg bag
Potash$32.00per50kg bag
Dolomite$140.00pertonne
MinPlus$125.00pertonne
Bananas$10.00per14kg carton (ave.)
A. FertilizingWith MinPlusWithout MinPlus
New Application Rates
p.a.$
p.a.$
Urea$21.66per50kg bag
Potash$32.00per50kg bag
Dolomite$140.00pertonne
MinPlus$125.00pertonne
Bananas$10.00per14kg carton (ave.)
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