Soil Remineralization for Sustainable Crop Production
Allen V. Barker, Tara A. O’Brien & Joanna Campe
Soil remineralization is the utilization of mineral fines to restore soil fertility through replenishment of plant nutrients removed by agricultural activities or by forces of nature. Basalt dust from a rock quarry or glacial moraine dust from a gravel quarry were evaluated for their effects on nutrient availability in soils and on yields and composition of lettuce (Lactuca sativa longifolia Lam.), apple (Malus sylvestris L.), or sweet corn (Zea mays rugosa Bonaf.). Extractable soil K and Ca were increased for all plots, and some increases in extractable P, Fe, Mn, and Mg were detected in soils treated with basalt rock dusts at rates of 9 to 27 Mg/ha. Soil acidity was decreased by about 0.5 pH unit by the additions of basalt dusts. Availabilities of most micronutrients and nonessential trace elements were not affected by additions of basalt dust. Glacial moraine fines had a lesser effect on available plant nutrients than basalt dusts. Plant tissue composition or yield of produce were not affected by any of the mineral treatments. The principal benefit of soil remineralization noted in this year of research was in the enhancement of soil fertility by elevating levels of certain nutrients in soil.