SOIL REMINERALIZATION IN CONTEXT
Also available in RUSSIAN.
The soils of the entire world have become severely demineralized by erosion over thousands of years. Plants require a continuous intake of minerals, just as we do, and for very similar reasons - calcium to build structural support, iron to carry oxygen, and so on. Plants growing on mineral-depleted soil do not get enough nourishment and so become smaller, less-abundant and less hardy, more vulnerable to the insects, worms and fungi that prey upon them.
Remineralization has been shown to cause a phenomenal growth of the microorganisms in the soil. It increases the nutrient intake of plants. It counters the effects of soil acidity, prevents soil erosion (for this reason alone, it would be worth applying rock dust), increases the storage capacity of the soil, contributes to the building of precious humus complexes, has anti-fungal properties, and when you spray it on plants it repels insects as well. The plants and trees become highly resistant to insects, disease, frosts, and droughts.
Remineralization also enhances and speeds up the process of composting, so if you are composting for your garden, consider putting on some rock dust. Remineralizing by adding rock dust to compost is a very practical way to apply it to soils.
- The results of long term experiments released in 1986 showed that in a forest where pine seedlings were remineralized, after 24 years the wood volume was four times higher than in the untreated area.
- Remineralization trials of a dying forest on Mt. Mitchell by Dr. Robert Bruck, Ph.D., showed that twelve weeks after application of rock dust, height of growth of red spruce was increased by 27% over non-treated controls, and height growth of Fraser fir was 19% greater than the untreated controls. (Forestry Research packet)
- The Men of Trees organization in Australia is doing remineralization trials with many species of trees in Australia with phenomenal results, such as five times the growth of trees seedlings of one variety of eucalyptus, over the untreated controls. (See Forestry Research packet)
The best source of soil minerals is simple crushed gravel dust. In 1976 John Hamaker spread gravel crusher screenings on part of his ten acres in Michigan. The following year, in an area of sparse rainfalls and dry summers, with no irrigation, his corn produced 65 bushels per acre, compared to yields of under 25 from other local farms.
Moreover, when independent analyses were done, Hamaker's corn was found to contain 28% more protein, 47% more calcium, 57% more phosphorus, 60% more magnesium and 90% more potassium than the same type of corn grown with chemical fertilizers nearby.
Twenty years ago the USDA published studies which showed that cement kiln dust (a less-satisfactory source of minerals) also produced better crops, but they couldn't understand "what element" in the dust was responsible and dropped the matter.
Hamaker estimates that on fully remineralized soil, American agriculture could grow four times as much food as it is capable of now - or the same amount of food at about one-fourth the cost - and with no pesticides or chemical fertilizers.
The Nutritional Aspect
When we eat food grown on depleted soil we too, like the plants, lose our natural resistance to disease. All the degenerative diseases have been on the rise in American in recent decades. Dietary fat, cholesterol, salt and overly-refined foods seem to be major factors, but a serious deficiency of minerals in our food may be another. Mineral depletion of soils has been found to be directly correlated with death rates. And deficiencies of only one of a number of trace minerals - copper, iron, selenium, etc. - have been found in laboratory studies to be associated with an increased risk of cancer.
A Global Perspective on Climate
The problem of soil demineralization also has a global perspective. It is known that the Earth's soil becomes demineralized during each interglacial period, the relatively short 10,000-year warm period between each 90,000-year major Ice Age. Consequent decline in the world's forests and other vegetation causes a release of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere and reduces available sinks for the collection of carbon dioxide. The level of carbon dioxide in the Earth's atmosphere has been rising exponentially for the past century. Carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases trap excess heat from the sun, potentially affecting the world's climate.
It is also well-known that when the glaciers advance and then recede during each recurrent Ice Age, they grind down rocks in their path, and this mineral-rich dust is blown far over the surface of the Earth, remineralizing soils and causing plant life to thrive again.
John Hamaker has supplied one missing piece to a cosmic puzzle, providing a long sought explanation, of the awesome 100,000-year cycle of major Ice ages. Hamaker points out that the greenhouse effect occurs primarily in the tropics, which get the most sun, rather than in the polar regions which get very little. When the temperature differential between the tropics and the poles increases, there is a resultant cycle of fierce wind systems, hurricanes, tornadoes and storms.
The moisture absorbed by these increasing storm systems is transported to the higher latitudes, where it gets deposited as snow and ice, eventually inducing glaciation and the next Ice Age. Evidence points to this occurrence in recent years, with record snow cover in the Northern Hemisphere and a shortening of the growing season, by weeks in some places, a pattern which is also accelerating year by year. Hamaker estimates that within a few decades the growing season may have decreased so much that millions of people will starve, in the richer nation as well as the poor.
Remineralization of the world's soils and forests will propagate carbon sinks, thereby absorbing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere - and overall, contributing to climatic stability. By assuming the task of remineralizing the Earth's soils, much as the glaciers do during an Ice Age, we can create fertile soils and abundance. We can re-create Eden.
The above information is condensed from writings of John Hamaker, Don Weaver, Larry Ephron and Joanna Campe.