Soilicious’s Arianne Neele Nominated for World Food Prize Pioneer Award

Arianne Neele and Inge Weeda, setting up pilot at BaseCamp, an Eco-resort that has been build upon a parking lot in the Dutch port city of Ijmuiden, Netherlands.

Arianne Neele, the Co-Founder of Soilicious (previously Terrae Vitae) and a fourth generation agricultural expert, was nominated for the Top Agri-food Pioneer Award by Joanna Campe, the Executive Director of Remineralize the Earth. Arianne’s profound knowledge, expertise, and dedication to combating global food system challenges position her as a prime contender for the award, given by the World Food Prize Foundation. 

For Arianne, agricultural innovation was in her blood. Her great-great grandfather, Jan Neele Sr. (born 1892) was an entrepreneur and well known expert in the cultivation of flower bulbs in the Netherlands. His son Bram (born 1923) followed in his footsteps and was responsible for the first export of flower bulbs outside Europe. Bram’s son Jan (Arianne’s father) expanded the family’s expertise, becoming interested in soil science across different climates and conditions. 

In the early 21st century, the company was joined by Arianne’s brothers Barry and Emiel, and the Neele Export company expanded quickly, setting up agricultural and horticultural projects in various countries: China and Korea in 1982, Indonesia, Philippines and Australia in 1985, and India from 1988 to the present.

In India, the company has implemented various agricultural education projects with a specialization in practical training facilities. These projects have been carried out in collaboration with the development aid and education agencies of the Dutch and Indian governments. In 2018, Arianne joined the business, and they started working with volcanic rock dust.

 “When I first encountered rock dust, it further deepened my knowledge of the physical, biological and chemical properties of the soil. From there, I discovered the importance of supplementing nutrients and trace elements back to the soil and made it my personal mission to improve soil quality all over the world. Feed the soil, not the plant!”

Arianne Neele

The extensive knowledge gained in these projects has resulted in the creation of their own organic soil enhancer, the “Golden Mix”, which returns CO2 to the soil where it belongs, ensures the availability and nutritional value of the world’s food systems, and restores degraded land by replenishing minerals back into the soil, improving soil health by addressing erosion, desertification, and salinization. 

Golden Mix is a sustainable alternative to chemical fertilizers, consisting of locally sourced mineral byproducts. It optimizes soil health by addressing physical, biological, and chemical aspects. The clay mineral additives improve water retention and nutrient content, while the vermicompost (part of the biological component) helps to introduce beneficial microorganisms and organisms like worms, and the rock dust enriches soil with essential minerals. Test results demonstrate its efficacy, transforming a poor sandy soil into more fertile land with a better soil structure and water retention within three months.

As a result, Golden Mix is a solution to many of today’s agricultural, environmental and health issues. It restores ecosystems damaged by poor soil management, and promotes soil health, which improves plant nutrition due to higher soil silica levels. It also decreases the need for chemical fertilizers and pesticides while making people healthier by improving produce quality with higher nutrient levels. On a broader scale, soil restoration with this organic soil amendment combats desertification. It also aids in carbon capture, as the chemical weathering process of rock dust absorbs CO2, and mitigates climate change. 

Remineralize the Earth has nominated Arianne Neele for the Top Agro-Food Pioneer Award because of her profound work. Remineralize the Earth is known for facilitating remineralization initiatives, employing rock dust and biochar on agricultural lands instead of fossil fuel-derived nitrogen fertilizers that exacerbate environmental degradation. Through its global programs, Remineralize the Earth has showcased the effectiveness of this alternative method, illustrating its potential as a beneficial solution for both farmers and the environment.

According to The World Food Prize Foundation, their “mission is to elevate innovations and inspire action to sustainably increase the quality, quantity and availability of food for all.” The main $500,000 World Food Prize is awarded annually in Iowa, celebrating the achievements of individuals that have improved human development by enhancing food quality, quantity, or availability globally. The Prize evokes the global necessity to provide safe, affordable, nourishing, sustainable and equitable food for all. In recognizing the individuals that have worked to achieve this goal, the Prize highlights the efforts and serves as a reminder. The laureate(s) are announced each spring, with the ceremony held in October, coinciding with UN World Food Day on October 16, at the Iowa State Capitol. Top Agri-food Pioneer is a newer prize introduced to recognize “pioneers reshaping the way we think about food” and “who are pushing the boundaries of possibility,” and Arianne Neele exemplifies those qualities.

Naomi Yossef completed her MSc in Environmental Policy and Management. Growing up in Ghana, Naomi witnessed the exacerbation of socioeconomic issues due to the lack of prioritizing environmental issues. This shaped her academic and professional career to center on sustainability, with a focus on advocating for sustainable development and solutions in African countries. Naomi has been based in Ethiopia since 2020, where she has been supporting various projects that promote sustainable development and environmental education. Naomi is fascinated by the work at RTE to provide a sustainable solution to combat climate change, and is especially keen to support the Kilimanjaro project based in Tanzania.

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