RTE’s Coordinator Jorge Villaseñor Garibi Researches and Promotes The Use of Rock Dust Throughout Mexico
“The biggest challenge in teaching about the use of rock dust is breaking the paradigm of a sixty year-long tradition of using chemical fertilizers,” said Jorge Villaseñor Garibi in a recent interview for Remineralize the Earth (RTE) that explored his experiences with training Mexican farmers in the use of rock dust.
Jorge is a partner of Agro Insumos Nova Terra SA, a company dedicated to the production and commercialization of rock dust and other organic fertilizers in the Mexican state of Jalisco. The material used by Nova Terra comes from a 400-hectare mine of sedimentary rocks that are rich in fossilized diatomaceous, a type of unicellular algae with a cell wall made of hydrated silicon dioxide. Unlike igneous hard silica rock, the silica present in this mine is already hydrated, which makes it readily absorbed by plants without first being processed by microorganisms. The calcium contained in the fossils and in other minerals present in the mine further enrich this diatomaceous rock dust. Speaking about his experiences remineralizing depleted soils with this product, Jorge said,“The beneficial results on plants in terms of growth and health are visible within a few days.”
“Due to the cost of chemical fertilizers, farmers are turning to other alternatives. Nonetheless, changing the paradigm has not been easy,”said Jorge about his efforts to promote rock dust as an alternative to chemical fertilizers. Before being able to introduce diatomaceous rock dust into the market and convince farmers to use it, Jorge had to devote several years to research and development, gathering data on remineralized fields of corn, papayas, lemons, beans, watermelons, wheat, rice and other crops. During its first year of business, Nova Terra provided farmers with 4,000 tons of diatomaceous rock dust.
Zacatecas government pioneered the use of rock dust
in an initiative to support farmers
Zacatecas is the state with the highest production of beans in Mexico, accounting for 35% of national production. In the span of only five years, yields of beans dropped from 1,200-1,400 kilos per hectare in 2002 to 300 kilos per hectare in 2007 — a clear example of soil depletion and over-cultivation leading to increasingly low crop production. In 2009, Jorge participated in a governmental program to support the farmers of Zacatecas, where, for the first time in all of Mexico, urea was replaced by rock dust. As a consequence, 14,200 hectares were remineralized. The results were outstanding, with a bean yield three times higher than the previous year’s. Production of corn, grape, peach, nopal and several varieties of chile also increased.
“I recall a farmer who was so impressed,”reports Jorge, “that he wanted us to photograph his grape harvest: he had harvested 700 boxes of grapes instead of the 200 boxes he used to get.” These promising results convinced many farmers of the benefits of remineralizing their soils, and they continued using rock dust even after the governmental campaign ended. Jorge presented the governor of Zacatecas, Amalia García Medina, with a diploma in recognition of her efforts to promote the use of rock dust, and five more diplomas were given to state officials that participated in the initiative, including the Secretary of Agricultural Development.
Jorge’s current projects and future plans
as coordinator for RTE
Jorge participated in a government campaign that supported farmers in the township of Zapopan, Jalisco. The government is committed to making Zapopan an ecological town, and in the summer of 2010 it provided farmers with diatomaceous rock dust to fertilize 1,200 hectares of crops, that included corn, nopal, agave, and fruit trees. Jorge is not only a provider of diatom rock dust; he is also training farmers and promoting rock dust in twenty-eight towns throughout Zapopan as an integral part of the program to support the remineralization of depleted soils. Farms and crops, however, were not the sole beneficiaries: the governmental initiative included the fertilization of various green areas of Zapopan, such as public parks, gardens, and a forest area estimated to contain 700 trees. As another part of this program, on the fourth of June—National Environmental Day—around 500 children from several elementary schools in Zapopan attended a workshop in which Jorge taught them how to remineralize trees with rock dust. At the end of this program, members of Zapopan’s governmental will receive formal recognition for their ecological commitment.
Jorge not only undertook to provide diatomaceouss rock dust, but he is also training and promoting rock dust in 28 towns throughout Zapopan, as a fundamental part of the program of support in the remineralization of depleted soils.
“Mexico has changed significantly over the last few years in terms of ecological awareness,”said Jorge as he reflected on his experiences promoting organic farming in Mexico. As coordinator for RTE, Jorge is forming a team of state delegates to establish the organization’s presence throughout the country; RTE already has delegates in the states of Jalisco and Colima. Jorge has also initiated contact with the governments of Sinaloa, Sonora, Michoacán, Queretaro, and Nayarit. Discussing his future plans as coordinator for RTE, Jorge said,“In 2012, there will be a World Congress of Consuls in Mexico, and its main focus will be climate change. I will see to the possibility of having representation in this congress.”
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