Rock Dust as a Sustainable Amendment in Northwestern European Agriculture

Glacial deposit in Greenland Introduction The EU is the world’s leading exporter of agri-food, supplying 20% of world food and drink (Matthews, 2021; EEA, 2020). In 2020, more than 40% of Europe’s acreage was used for agriculture. 61% of this agricultural area was operated by high to medium intensity farms in terms of fertilizer and pesticide cost. The considerable growth in crop and livestock has caused environmental impacts that call for sustainable solutions. Northwestern Europe There are several initiatives currently focused on sustainable agricultural ...

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REMINERA: How A Stonemeal Startup Arose During A Time Of Pandemic

It was the beginning of the pandemic. My colleague, Nayara Mesquita, and I had recently defended our geosciences masters theses at the Federal University of Pernambuco (UFPE), and I was still figuring out my ‘next steps’ in life. Always the multitasker, Nayara was already doing an MBA on leadership and sustainability, along with social entrepreneurship and environmental activism. She warmly invited me to join her and start studying stonemeal, food security and carbon sequestration. We had heard about stonemeal just once or twice at university, and so it was still a ...

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Book Review: A World Without Soil

The book cover of A World Without Soil, and a photo of author Jo Handelsman
A review of: A World Without Soil: The past, present, and precarious future of the earth beneath our feet by Jo Handelsman, 2021, Yale University Press   This book is a good, clearly written, popular introduction to how quickly we are losing the topsoil that feeds us, and how politicians treat soil like dirt. The author, a plant pathologist, is Director of the Wisconsin Institute for Discovery at University of Wisconsin–Madison, and was Associate Director for Science at the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) to President Obama.  She focuses ...

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Tomatoes, Orchards, and Forests: Studying Reforestation and Remineralization in China

Hills in China showing signs of terraced afforestation.
Carbon reduction in China For China, carbon-reduction efforts remain rooted in reforestation and afforestation efforts, as the country keeps planting trees through to 2025.[4] In addition to these efforts, researchers in the People’s Republic have turned their attention increasingly towards enhanced weathering and rock dust application, studying reforestation and remineralization. China has decades of experience with major tree planting projects, for example, in 1978 initiating the so-called “Great Green Wall” project (official name: the Three-North Shelter Forest ...

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Make Climate Goals Attainable: Remineralize croplands

A truck spreading rock dust on a field. Photo by Ilsa Kantola, University of Illinois Champaign-Urbana Paris Climate Agreement metrics are just out of reach As of July 2021, the top 10 fossil carbon emitting nations are failing to meet their 2030 green-house gas (GHG) reduction goals, as pledged under the Paris Agreement. The Paris Agreement defines a hard warming limit to 2°C, but current status quo climate initiatives – even if met – will lead to a global warming of 2.6 - 3.1°C. Heating of this magnitude could set forth a cascade of irreversible effects. The ...

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Murky Waters: How Sediments Impact Greenland’s Melting Ice Sheets

A river of sediment-laden water running through a glacier in Greenland
Image caption: The sediment-rich meltwater river originating from Leverett Glacier in southwest Greenland, pictured in June 2012. Photo credit: Jon Hawkings Few consequences of global climate change are as notorious as melting ice sheets. However, the process responsible for this phenomenon is not as straightforward, or as well-understood, as might be imagined.  Ice sheets are masses of glacial ice that form over land, covering a minimum of 50,000 square kilometers (20,000 square miles) [1]. During Earth’s most recent ice ages, ice sheets stretching into the Arctic ...

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The Threat of Thawing Permafrost: Further impetus to remineralize the Earth

Photo by Sergey Dolya, sergeydolya.livejournal.com A subterranean threat  A new study, published by a team of geologists at the University of Bonn, has presented scientists with a new worry: thawing permafrost. In the past year, the Taymyr Peninsula in Northern Siberia recorded its hottest summer to date. From May 2020 to March 2021, arctic temperatures rose a whopping 6°C above the typical 1967-2000 baseline. While this rising temperature alone is cause for concern, the deeper issue lies below the Earth’s surface. The Taymyr Peninsula is coated with an imperme...

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Prairie Grass Systems: Texan’s Invention Remineralizes Soil While Replenishing Native Flora

Imagine an irrigation system that does not rely on clear water to run through its small tubing orifices, but rather can provide a nutritious ‘dirty’ water, filled with fine rock dust and other particulates that can optimally feed soil microbes. That will be just one of many benefits with David Munson’s Prairie Grass Systems.  “We take a water slurry mix and inject it under the plants to provide a little bit of water to the plants, but also food for the soil organisms to attack the rock dust and feed the plants,” he says about his patented invention that ...

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Geology Matters: Ontario farmer uses mining background to identify better soils

John Slack at Spanish River Carbonatite Complex
John Slack at Spanish River Carbonatite Complex Educated at the Haileybury School of Mines, John Slack is a Canadian mining technologist-turned-farmer who uses his thorough understanding of geology to promote remineralization and sustainable soil fertility. “Promoting the use of rock dust — and the throwing away of your fertilizer bag — has been a really tough row to hoe, but we’re now going to see major breakthroughs, particularly as we move to a ‘greener’ environment, where people are thinking about this more,” he said. “The fact of the matter is it ...

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Regrounding Regenerative Agriculture

Crops in a city
Photo: Fowler Clark Epstein Urban Farm, Regenerative Design Group 2018 For decades, organic farming was considered the pinnacle of environmentally friendly agriculture. Now, another movement is gaining traction, one which goes a step beyond simply eliminating certain harmful chemicals or improving the living conditions of livestock. Regenerative agriculture sharply diverges from conventional agricultural methods, incorporating practices such as low or no-till planting, rotating crops, planting cover crops, livestock grazing, and applying compost and manure. By aiming to ...

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