Connect with us

Hi, what are you looking for?

CleanTechnica
Researchers at the University of Sheffield and around the world are exploring whether adding crushed basaltic rock to fields can increase yields, lower costs, and absorb some of the excess carbon dioxide in the earth's atmosphere.

Agriculture

Transforming Agriculture: Using Crushed Rock Can Slash Pesticide Use, Increase Yields, & Promote Carbon Capture

Researchers at the University of Sheffield and around the world are exploring whether adding crushed basaltic rock to fields can increase yields, lower costs, and absorb some of the excess carbon dioxide in the earth’s atmosphere.

Carbon capture is a primary consideration for most climate scientists today. They know that avoiding the worst effects of global warming will require removing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, not just reducing the amount that gets added. Atmospheric heating and acidification of oceans are cumulative processes. They took a long time to get started and will take a long time to stop. If we ceased all global carbon emissions today, average global temperatures would continue to spike and ocean acidification would continue unabated for decades to come.

basalt and agriculture

We have often addressed proposed geo-engineering schemes that might help cool the earth — shooting sulfur dioxide clouds into the upper atmosphere, seeding the oceans with iron, placing an array of giant mirrors in geosynchronous orbit to reflect some of the sun’s rays back into space — but few are practical or even safe for human beings to consider.

Scientists at the University of Sheffield in the UK, together with colleagues from around the world, have released a new study today that suggests using granulated basaltic rocks left over from volcanic eruptions could provide several positive benefits to agriculture and the global community. Professor David Beerling, director of the Leverhulme Centre for Climate Change Mitigation at the University of Sheffield and lead author of the new research, says, “Human societies have long known that volcanic plains are fertile, ideal places for growing crops without adverse human health effects, but until now there has been little consideration for how adding further rocks to soils might capture carbon.”

“This study could transform how we think about managing our croplands for climate, food and soil security. It helps move the debate forward for an under-researched strategy of CO2 removal from the atmosphere — enhanced rock weathering -= and highlights supplementary benefits for food and soils. The magnitude of future climate change could be moderated by immediately reducing the amount of CO2 entering the atmosphere as a result of burning fossil fuels for energy generation. Adopting strategies like this new research that actively remove CO2 from the atmosphere would contribute this effort and could be adopted rapidly.”

Some of the advantages of using basaltic rock in agriculture include improving the fertility of agricultural soils while slashing the amount of fertilizers and pesticides needed to grow crops successfully. Both are derived from oil stocks, which  another reason to stop using them. Since farmers routinely add crushed limestone to their fields, all the infrastructure needed to distribute and apply crushed basaltic rock is already readily available.

Adding rock to fields doesn’t use up valuable arable land or require the use of more water — a commodity that is becoming increasingly scarce in many part of the world. The researchers believe any higher cost of adding basaltic rock to fields will be more than offset by the reduced amount spent on fertilizers and pesticides coupled with the extra market value of higher yields.

Dr. James Hansen, the much-vilified former NASA scientist who introduced the world to the now famous “hockey stick” graph several decades ago, is one of the authors of the new report. He points out that basaltic rock dissolves slowly in rainwater which increases the rate of natural weathering during with carbon dioxide is removed from the atmosphere. Less carbon dioxide means less acidification of the oceans — an important benefit that receives little notice in the press and requires more research to fully understand.

For more on this topic, please view the short video below, which features remarks from several of the researchers who have been pursuing this line of inquiry and who contributed to the latest report.

 
 
Appreciate CleanTechnica’s originality? Consider becoming a CleanTechnica member, supporter, or ambassador — or a patron on Patreon.
 
Have a tip for CleanTechnica, want to advertise, or want to suggest a guest for our CleanTech Talk podcast? Contact us here.

New Podcast: Forecasting EV Sales And EV Battery & Metal Prices — Interview with BloombergNEF's Head of Clean Power Research

Written By

Steve writes about the interface between technology and sustainability from his homes in Florida and Connecticut or anywhere else the Singularity may lead him. You can follow him on Twitter but not on any social media platforms run by evil overlords like Facebook.

Comments

#1 most loved electric vehicle, solar energy, and battery news & analysis site in the world.

 

Support our work today!

Advertisement

Power CleanTechnica: $3/Month

Tesla News Solar News EV News Data Reports

Advertisement

EV Sales Charts, Graphs, & Stats

Advertisement

Our Electric Car Driver Report

30 Electric Car Benefits

Tesla Model 3 Video

Renewable Energy 101 In Depth

solar power facts

Tesla News

EV Reviews

Home Efficiency

You May Also Like

Climate Change

Article courtesy of EVANNEX. By Iqtidar Ali Recently, Tesla CEO Elon Musk announced on Twitter that he is donating $100M for innovating the best carbon capture...

Carbon Pricing

Alberta's crude oil from steam-assisted gravity drainage has a carbon debt just for extraction and in province processing that's as large as the total...

Climate Change

Capturing enough carbon just to play the part we need it to play will be a big enough challenge on its own, and that's...

Climate Change

Elon Musk has put up $100 million to spur research into carbon capture technologies that actually work.

Copyright © 2021 CleanTechnica. The content produced by this site is for entertainment purposes only. Opinions and comments published on this site may not be sanctioned by and do not necessarily represent the views of CleanTechnica, its owners, sponsors, affiliates, or subsidiaries.