Farming crops with crushed rocks could help to improve global food security and capture CO2 from the atmosphere, a new study has found.
This is stated on the website of The University of Illinois College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences (ACES). The pioneering research by scientists at the University of Illinois, together with US and international colleagues, suggests that adding fast-reacting silicate rocks to croplands could capture CO2 and give increased protection from pests and diseases while restoring soil structure and fertility.
The research, published in Nature Plants, examined amending soils with abundant crushed silicate rocks, like basalt, left over from ancient volcanic eruptions. As these minute rock grains dissolve chemically in soils, they take up carbon dioxide and release plant-essential nutrients. Farmers already apply crushed rock in the form of limestone to reverse acidification of soils caused by farming practices, including the use of fertilisers.
David Beerling, Director of the Leverhulme Centre for Climate Change Mitigation at the University of Sheffield and lead author of the research, explains: “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. Adopting strategies like this new research could have a massive impact and be adopted rapidly.”
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