Will Farming With Rocks Reduce CO2 and Improve Global Food Security?

Global Food Security
Farming crops with crushed rocks could help to improve global food security and capture CO2 from the atmosphere, a new study has found. (Image: YouTube/Screenshot)

Farming crops with crushed rocks could help to improve global food security and capture CO2 from the atmosphere, a new study has found. The pioneering research by scientists at the University of Sheffield, together with international colleagues, suggests that adding fast-reacting silicate rocks to croplands could capture COand give increased protection from pests and diseases while restoring soil structure and fertility.

Adding fast-reacting silicate rocks to croplands could capture CO2 and give increased protection from pests and diseases while restoring soil structure and fertility. (Image: YouTube/Screenshot)

Adding fast-reacting silicate rocks to croplands could capture CO2 and give increased protection from pests and diseases while restoring soil structure and fertility. (Image: YouTube/Screenshot)

Professor David Beerling, Director of the Leverhulme Centre for Climate Change Mitigation at the University of Sheffield and lead author of the research, said:

The research, published in Nature Plants, examined an approach that involves 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.

Critically, enhanced rock weathering works together with existing managed croplands. Unlike other carbon removal strategies being considered, it doesn’t compete for land used to grow food or increase the demand for freshwater. Other benefits include reducing the usage of agricultural fertilizers and pesticides, lowering the cost of food production, increasing the profitability of farms and reducing the barriers to uptake by the agricultural sector.

More about the research:

Crushed silicate rocks could be applied to any soils, but arable land is the most obvious because it is worked and planted annually. It covers some 12 million square kilometers, or 11 per cent of the global land area.

Arable farms already apply crushed rock in the form of limestone to reverse acidification of soils caused by farming practices, including the use of fertilizers. Managed croplands, therefore, have the logistical infrastructure, such as the road networks and machinery, needed to undertake this approach at scale. These considerations could make it straightforward to adopt.

Arable farms already apply crushed rock in the form of limestone to reverse acidification of soils caused by farming practices, including the use of fertilizers. (Image: YouTube/Screenshot)

Arable farms already apply crushed rock in the form of limestone to reverse acidification of soils caused by farming practices, including the use of fertilizers. (Image: YouTube/Screenshot)

Professor Stephen Long at the University of Illinois Champaign-Urbana, and co-author of the study, added:

Professor James Hansen from the Earth Institute at Columbia University, and co-author of the work, added:

Provided by the University of Sheffield [Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.]

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