Initial agronomic benefits of enhanced weathering using basalt: A study of spring oat in a temperate climate


Addressing soil nutrient degradation and global warming requires novel solutions. Enhanced weathering using crushed basalt rock is a promising dual-action strategy that can enhance soil health and sequester carbon dioxide. This study examines the short-term effects of basalt amendment on spring oat (Avena sativa L.) during the 2022 growing season in NE England. The experimental design consisted of four blocks with control and basalt- amended plots, and two cultivation types within each treatment, laid out in a split plot design. Basalt (18.86 tonnes ha−1) was incorporated into the soil during seeding. Tissue, grain and soil samples were collected for yield, nutrient, and pH analysis. Basalt amendment led to significantly higher yields, averaging 20.5% and 9.3% increases in direct drill and ploughed plots, respectively. Soil pH was significantly higher 256 days after rock application across cultivation types (direct drill: on average 6.47 vs. 6.76 and ploughed: on average 6.69 vs. 6.89, for control and basalt-amended plots, respectively), likely due to rapidly dissolving min- erals in the applied basalt, such as calcite. Indications of growing season differences in soil pH are observed through direct measurement of lower manganese and iron uptake in plants grown on basalt-amended soil. Higher grain and tissue potassium, and tissue calcium uptake were observed in basalt-treated crops. Notably, no accumulation of potentially toxic elements (arsenic, cadmium, chromium, nickel) was detected in the grain, indicating that crops grown using this basaltic feedstock are safe for consumption. This study indicates that basalt amendments can improve agronomic performance in sandy clay-loam agricul- tural soil under temperate climate conditions. These findings offer valuable insights for pro- ducers in temperate regions who are considering using such amendments, demonstrating the potential for improved crop yields and environmental benefits while ensuring crop safety.


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