The Importance Of Minerals
Many of the nutrients and micronutrients that plants need for growth and development can be found in rock powder. Rock Powder can be used to restore nutrient depleted topsoil. Not all elements in rocks are beneficial to plant growth, but nitrogen, potassium, and phosphorus are three key nutrients needed by plants that can be derived from rocks, also calcium and magnesium. These nutrients along with other micronutrients can be derived directly from rock powder in proper conditions. Microbes and fungi in soil break down the minerals, nutrients, and micronutrients in rocks and make them available for plants to absorb. Although this is a chemical problem, the solution is biological.
The Role of Microorganisms in Extracting Mineral Nutrients from Mineralized Rock Powder
As the microbes/fungi in soil process the rock powder in soil it breaks the nutrients up allowing plants to absorb their metabolic products. Without them these nutrients would remain unavailable to the plants. Microbes also decompose dead plants and animals making even more nutrients available for plants. Not only do the microbes/fungi make nutrients available, but they deliver the nutrients directly to the plant’s roots.
The Role of Mineralized Rock Powder on Microorganisms
Rock soil provides a nutrient source for microorganisms, but it also provides them with a home. Different minerals are colonized by different microorganisms. With the use of different combinations of rock powder you can provide a wide variety of microorganisms homes (microhabitats) and nutrients. These homes provide a safe haven to microorganisms making them stronger and resistant to attack.
The Importance of Biomineral Fertilizers
Conventional fertilizers do not promote the growth of large healthy root systems, thus a smaller rhizosphere for important microbes/fungi to live in. This results in less nutrient exchange, mineral uptake, and phytochemical production which is important for plant health and its ability to fight off disease and pests. So a proper Biomineral Fertilizer provides the nutrients AND biology to make them available for the plants. With proper management the ecosystem soil provides microorganisms, there is the potential to reduce or replace pesticides and conventional fertilizers.
Biomineral Fertilizers Prepared from Low-grade Ore and Mine Waste
As minerals and metals are mined it becomes more difficult to find large deposits of easily mined materials. Because of this processes are being refined in order to further process mine waste and retrieve the smaller particles of these materials. Aside from it being more difficult to find mined materials, abandoned mine land presents threats to humans and the environment. There are as many as half a million abandoned mines in the US alone. These pollute streams affecting aquatic life as well as ourselves. Mill tailings are very small and susceptible to erosion. With new processes and uses for mines and its materials, their lifespan can be extended reducing the need for new sites to be mined.
With new processes that are economically viable, materials from low-grade ore can be utilized. This gives mines a longer lifespan and lowers the environmental footprint of their operations. Along with this the materials processed will reduce the need for conventional fertilizers and pesticides. Using rock powder and bio fertilizer is a more sustainable practice for agriculture. It is also cost-competitive with conventional farming technique and produces comparable if not greater yields.