The art of dissolving rocks to feed plants is a basic skill any farmer must have to produce a lot healthy crops for a long time. Volcanic rock dust is the source of many minerals that most of our soils are missing. Because the soils miss the minerals, the plants miss them too and so do our cattle and so do we.
If we put rock dust directly in the soils it works as soil amendment but it has slow results on plant nutrition. Before rocks can feed plants, they need to be transformed by the microbiology of the soils. They have to be made bio-available.
How to get rocks:
Many rock mixtures can be bought at special agricultural stores. When a mineral has good potential application for agriculture it is labelled as agro-mineral. Rock dust suppliers take the best agro-minerals and mix them in different proportions to create their commercial recipes. What make a rock good for the crops?
The most fertile soils on earth are volcanic soils. they have the highest mineral diversity. Basically the most important factor of a rock to improve soils is the diversity of minerals, in the right proportions in a way that they allow they support the development of life in the soil. The more mineral diversity in the rocks we use, the more elements of the periodic table will be able to be embodied in a bacteria or fungi, passing to the soil food web the more fertile the soil is. One of the rocks with more mineral diversity are the basaltic rocks.
How to dissolve minerals:
Rocks in soils undergo a serie of processes before they release minerals. The first process is erosion, then it comes the bio-assimilation. The process of erosion and bio-assimilation take thousands of years. We can mimic this process and accelerate the mineral release and take advantage of it (biomimicry). We mimic erosion when we crush rocks.
We mimic the natural bio assimilation in the soils when we put soil microorganisms in contact with rock dust. Bacteria, fungi and yeasts use organic acids and enzymes that extract minerals from rocks.
Dissolving rocks with microorganisms in own farm does not require high investments nor complicated technology. Small Bio-digesters can be mounted in reduced spaces where experimenting is easy and affordable to any farmer.
The art of reproducing microorganisms to dissolve minerals from rocks is a simple but powerful tool in hands of farmers. It can bring fertility to soils an accelerate the chemical and biological rehabilitation of exhausted soils.
It is a strategy that any farmer can experience. In my vegetable garden, I produce and test my fertilizers on a small scale. I test them in vegetables and fruit trees. If I like the results, scaling-up is always possible.
Thousands of farmers in South America know how to make their own rock dust based fertilizers and are able to feed their crops. They do not depend from external inputs but they increase production and quality of their products and leave better soils for their children.