Soil Remineralization and Climate Change
11 Jan, 2010
As one might imagine, climate change is an issue absorbing much of the world’s attention at the moment. As witness to this fact, the United Nations Climate Change Conference, also known as COP15, recently took place in Copenhagen, Denmark, and was attended by UN delegates from around the world as well as by many world leaders—including President Obama.
In addition to the measures that each nation is being asked to take in the fight against climate change, major discussion at the conference also centered on technologies that will assist in the battle. This year one of the technologies presented, through a multimedia DVD given to each of the UN delegates at the conference, was soil remineralization. The DVD is entitled The Green Disc: New Technologies for a New World and contains 40 separate chapters on new technologies.
“Our inclusion on this historic DVD means an opportunity for governments and development agencies worldwide to consider remineralization as a possible strategy,” Joanna Campe, executive director of Remineralize the Earth, told Organic Connections. “This is not only something that they can use for small-scale sustainable development—it has huge potential for restoring forests and agricultural areas throughout the world, with significant results.”
Soil remineralization creates fertile soils by returning minerals to the soil in much the same way that the earth does: by weathering of minerals from rocks. Normally this is a slow chemical process, limited by the surface area of the rock exposed to water and CO2. During an ice age, glaciers crush rocks in their path, producing a fine rock “flour” that is carried by water and ice to form deposits at the end of the glacier; after the ice age ends, winds blow the accumulated rock dust all over the globe.
Volcanoes erupt, spewing forth minerals from deep within the earth, and through weathering, these minerals are released into new soils. Such soils are extremely productive where fresh volcanic materials are plentiful, but minerals decrease in fertility with age as they are leached from the soil, especially in warm regions with high rainfall. This is why young volcanic areas, such as Java, Costa Rica and Hawaii, are so fertile, and why older tropical areas such as Brazil, Africa and Australia have very poor, mineral-deficient soils. These infertile soils benefit enormously from having volcanic rock powders added to them to increase their fertility.
Remineralization has been used with great success both in farming and in forest agriculture. Crops grown in remineralized soil are highly nutritional, pest resistant, far healthier and much tastier than “conventional” crops, as aptly demonstrated by innovators such as Bob Cannard (see article “Bob Cannard: Farming with Nature for True Taste,” Organic Connections, January–February 2009 ) and the SEER Centre (see article “SEER Centre: Scotland’s Remineralized Oasis,” Organic Connections, November–December 2009).
Remineralization is also being used to successfully save California oak trees from a disease called sudden oak death, showing the potential of remineralization for forest restoration (see article “Saving the California Oaks,” Organic Connections, July 2007).
Another enormous benefit is that remineralized soil retains a much higher amount of carbon from the atmosphere. Numerous studies have shown the capacity to increase soil carbon levels 0.5 percent per year through biological growth and sequestration of carbon as humus in the soil.
The potential for remineralization to bring atmospheric carbon to pre-Industrial Revolution levels in five years, through targeted use of soil remineralization of the world’s agricultural lands, has been documented. Not only would global CO2 be brought down to safe levels, but revitalization of soil and biological life on the planet would also occur, and human nutrition and health levels would significantly increase throughout the planet.
Campe points out how remineralization could assist with many of today’s ecological crises. “One major issue we could help prevent is the huge forest fires that have created such destruction to both habitats and communities in Southern California, Greece and Spain. If we were to remineralize the urban areas that have these woodlands, they would become drought resistant and there would be far fewer such fires. These forests would also absorb far more CO2 and would actually be stabilizing the climate at the same time.”
Additionally, there are areas such as Kenya that have suffered complete ecological collapse, which could greatly benefit. “In Kenya, the ecosystem has been absolutely devastated,” Campe said. “Remineralization could bring back resources by increasing what they call in Kenya plantation cover—the tree cover. It could also provide sustainable livelihoods for these people through managing agriforestry projects—supplying food, fuel and income.”
Remineralization is fast becoming a proven technology for the application of ancient natural methods in restoring lands to their thriving best. It is hoped that the UN delegates who received this information will put it to good use.
For more information on soil remineralization and on the many important projects of Remineralize the Earth, please visit their website at www.remineralize.org. Click here for the Green Disc report on remineralization.