Study: Farming crops with rocks to reduce CO2 and improve global food security

May 29, 2018 05:04 PM EDT | By Staff Reporter

Close
Farming crops with rocks to reduce CO2 and improve global food security
Farming crops with rocks to reduce CO2 and improve global food security

Farming crops with crushed rocks could help to improve global food security and reduce the amount of CO2 entering 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 CO2 and give increased protection from pests and diseases while restoring soil structure and fertility.

Professor David Beerling, Director of the Leverhulme Centre for Climate Change Mitigation at the University of Sheffield and lead author of the research, said: "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 has transformed 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 energy generation. Adopting strategies like this new research that actively remove CO2 from it can have a massive impact and be adapted very quickly."

The research, published today (19 February 2018) in Nature Plants, examined the approach which 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.

Crushed silicate rocks could be applied to any soils, but arable land is the most obvious since it is worked and planted annually. It covers some 14 million square kilometres or 10 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 crops, therefore, have the logistical infrastructure such as the road networks and machinery needed to undertake this approach at scale. These considerations could make it straight forward to adopt.

Professor Stephen Long at the University of Illinois Champaign-Urbana, and co-author of the study added: "Our proposal is that changing the type of rock, and increasing the application rate, would do the same job as applying crushed limestone but help capture CO2 from the atmosphere, storing it in soils and eventually the oceans.

"Global warming is a problem that affects everyone on the planet. Scientists generally have done a poor job of getting across the point that the world must reduce emissions of greenhouse gases from fossil fuels and combine this with strategies for extracting carbon dioxide from the atmosphere to avoid a climate catastrophe."

Professor James Hansen from the Earth Institute at Columbia University and co-author of the work, added: "Strategies for taking CO2 out of the atmosphere are now on the research agenda and we need realistic assessment of these strategies, what they might be able to deliver, and what the challenges are."

© 2018 Food World News. All rights reserved. Do not reproduce without permission.

SHARE YOUR THOUGHTS

Get the Most Popular Food Stories in a Weekly Newsletter
Food Biz
The Best Meal Kit Delivery Service for Every Budget

The Best Meal Kit Delivery Service For Every Budget

There's one way to cook fresh, delicious meals at home without doing all the planning, preparing and shopping: meal-kit delivery services. These services deliver a box of ingredients to your door, and you do the cooking at home. Most kits offer the option to serve two, three or four people, and you can customize how many meals per week you would like.

A Decade of Popping Bottles at Wynn Nightlife's XS Nightclub

A Decade of Popping Bottles At Wynn Nightlife's XS Nightclub

Anyone whose been to Las Vegas knows that it's one of the premier places in the world to party. A place where over-the-top and outrageous is commonplace. Where showing out is the norm.

Super Food

Achieve Your Health Related Goals with Superfoods

A superfood is considered to be nutrient-rich food that is favorable for health and wellbeing. It is a marketing term that is used to explain foods with supposed health benefits. It is especially good for including various micro and macronutrients, minerals and vitamins. Superfoods make you stay healthy and fight against aging and disease.

Food Tech
Campbell Soup To Sell Danish Snacks Manufacturer To Ferrero Affiliate For $300 Million

Campbell Soup To Sell Danish Snacks Manufacturer To Ferrero Affiliate For $300 Million

Campbell Soup has announced it will sell its Danish baked snacks manufacturer Kelsen Group to CTH Invest, a Belgian holding company affiliated with the Nutella maker Ferrero, for $300 million. The transaction is subject to customary purchase price adjustments, and it is expected to be completed in the first quarter of fiscal 2020.

New Whiskies Well Worth Buying This Summer: Brown Is Beautiful

New Whiskies Well Worth Buying This Summer: Brown Is Beautiful

The newly appointed editor-in-chief of Esquire Magazine, Michael Sebastian, recently told the press that he wants to get away from the idea that the magazine's reader is "a middle-aged white guy who likes brown liquor and brown leather"). Which should send chills down the ad dept's spine working on those Scotch and bourbon accounts!

Campbell Soup To Sell Danish Snacks Manufacturer To Ferrero Affiliate For $300 Million

Campbell Soup To Sell Danish Snacks Manufacturer To Ferrero Affiliate For $300 Million

Campbell Soup has announced it will sell its Danish baked snacks manufacturer Kelsen Group to CTH Invest, a Belgian holding company affiliated with the Nutella maker Ferrero, for $300 million. The transaction is subject to customary purchase price adjustments, and it is expected to be completed in the first quarter of fiscal 2020.

Real Time Analytics