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Rock Dust

 
Jack Shawburn
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Is this stuff really as good as they say?
I have access to granite powder that is a byproduct of Stone Cutting and polishing.
Will this qualify as rock dust - much of it is as fine as powder.
Feed it to worms first?
 
Jack Shawburn
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see this vid
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=163n2n7Bm5I&feature=related

just love the accent
 
maikeru sumi-e
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Jen0454 wrote:
Is this stuff really as good as they say?
I have access to granite powder that is a byproduct of Stone Cutting and polishing.
Will this qualify as rock dust - much of it is as fine as powder.
Feed it to worms first?


I haven't tried it yet, but I'm betting it is. Might be good to send it through the worms first, as it's the soil microbes that activate and release the minerals.
 
Leila Rich
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RPR aka 'reactive phosphate rock' is a common organic amendment over here, were most soils are phosphorus deficient.
The phosphorus is apparently MUCH more effective/available if put through the compost first and I presume the rule applies to minerals generally.
I imagine worms would play a similar role to compost in freeing the P up for soil beasties to consume.
 
Paul Cereghino
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All soil is rock.  Old soil can be leached of many valuable minerals.  Rock, either from volcanic rock or sedimentary rock is a kind of high energy rock recycling program.  Different rocks are made of different minerals.  Different minerals are made of different elements, and have different impurities. 

Granite is mostly feldspar, mica and quartz.  Plagioclase feldspar is high in potassium... so in terms of macro nutrients granite dust delivers K... which might be nice if your native soil is low in K.  You can look a lot up in a rock and mineral book... even estimate percent by weight by using atomic weight and the old periodic table.

Many tout rock dust for micronutrients.  I prefer oceanic sources as they are more reknewable.. (kelp etc...)

Every ecosystem and soil will have certain tendencies towards deficiency based on parent material and the kind of weathering and leaching and duration from the last volcanic or glacial upheaval.

Sorry in advance for inaccuracies.. this is of the top of the old head...
 
John Polk
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You want volcanic rock dust.  It has all of the trace minerals in it.  Many of the world's richest soils are below volcanoes.  If you want the Real Mc Coy without paying S/H from England, google "Azomite"
It will increase Brix in your plants, give protection from pests & diseases, improve flavors and production.  It will  multiply the benefits of your compost!
 
Jordan Lowery
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i prefer to use crushed river rock which has more than a few types of rock in it, but granite powder will work.

and like said if you want to buy something, azomite is a great start.
 
                                        
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I'd stick with your local soil and grow things that grow in your area.
It's less expensive.

Your soil probably has more minerals than your could ever exhaust in your lifetime.

If you want great soil, just add compost..
~These are my thoughts anyway.
 
                                      
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Actually there are some really great stories and truths to the rock dust and the need for this in the soil. Back in the day before we started messing with the water ways, rivers, streams you would get seasonal flooding.  This bottom land and flood areas almost always were the richest and most fertile lands in an area.  The regular flooding would deposit, silt, topsoil, and minerals into that soil and for about 3-5 years after a big flood the land would be very productive and fertile.  Until the soil starts to play out and becomes unproductive because the nutrients have been used up.  Some of the biggest fights/arguements/wars have been fought over this bottom land with good reason.  Mother nature does a lot of work for us if we are wise enough to recognize it.

So the idea that there is no need to add or supplement to your soil really is a little misguided.  If that were true we wouldn't spend so much time composting, and creating these masterpiece bed systems, and things to make mother natures systems work for us.  Rock dust for minerals and other supplements we can find and add to our soils are important for the health of the soil, and for the health of the people eating the things grown in that soil.  The plants, bacteria, and micro organisms are extremely adept at mining for those minerals so that they become bio-available.  It is a good idea to supplement your soil, unless your lucky enough to live in a flood plain. LOL

Longsnowsm
 
John Polk
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Plants can exist in poor soils.  To reach optimal growth and health, they all require a wide spectrum of micro-nutrients, which are usually depleted in heavily used soils.  Just as a chain is no stronger than its weakest link, a soil can be no better than its least abundant micro-nutrient.  Food crops grown in nutrient rich soils will yield bumper crops that are more nutrient dense, and naturally resistant to pests and diseases.

Plant growth consumes the organic matter and minerals within the soil.  That is why we continue to add compost.  If we aren't also replenishing the minerals, we are only doing half of the job of maintaining a sustainable soil.  Adding the minerals will improve the health of the worms and other micro-organisms working for us in the soil.

I suggest buying a bag, and trying it in an area to see the overall results.
It cannot hurt anything...it is nature's way.

 
                            
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I use and occasionally sell Azomite (A to Z Of Minerals, Including Trace Elements.)  It's a volcanic rock that has been powdered.  The only people that I know of that didn't see much of a difference had either very good soil to start with, or dead sterile soil.    For the later, it works if added to the compost pile.  The soil in this area, what soil there is between the rocks, was over-farmed decades ago and needs far more than just the NPK and calcium most people focus on.  I'm sure almost any other ground stone will have some benefit on poor soils.
 
maikeru sumi-e
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I also like seaweed as a soil/compost amendment, and it does absolute wonders for plants. But it's not cheap and readily available for me...I'm too inland, and hauling large amounts here is both cost and energy prohibitive.
 
ryan112ryan McCoy
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When people say "rock dust"  is this similar or the same as vermiculite?   

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vermiculite
 
maikeru sumi-e
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ryan112ryan wrote:
When people say "rock dust"  is this similar or the same as vermiculite?   

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vermiculite


Rock dust is just that, usually crushed or powdered rocks like granite as Jen mentioned, though it can and usually includes stuff like Azomite. Vermiculite is a clay material used for soil conditioning and potting mediums, although personally I steer clear of it because of possible asbestos contamination issues. Asbestos = no thanks. Not supposed to contain asbestos, but who knows...

From your Wiki link:

Although not all vermiculite contains asbestos, some products were made with vermiculite that contained asbestos until the early 1990s. Vermiculite mines throughout the world are now regularly tested for it and are supposed to sell products that contain no asbestos. The former vermiculite mine in Libby, Montana, did have tremolite asbestos as well as winchite and richterite (both fibrous amphiboles) — in fact, it was formed underground through essentially the same geologic processes as the contaminants. A vermiculite mine in Virginia has also been found to be contaminated by asbestos.[6]
 
Jack Shawburn
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Seems there is much debate on this.
I know our soil is deficient in zinc and like to use any natural way to include it
and possibly other trace elements that may be lacking.
 
maikeru sumi-e
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Jen, you could maybe consider including some dynamic accumulators that would harvest and concentrate zinc, for example, mustards and sunflowers as mentioned in Gaia's Garden.
 
John Polk
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If there is a gravel pit (or other facility that cuts or crushes rocks) in your area, they will likely give you the dust (by-product of their operation).  Never hurts to ask.  If you have sandy soil with no organics in it, rock dust will not help you (nothing will).  It will benefit almost everybody else.  Volcanic rock dust is richer in content because it brought up all of the minerals from the earth's bowels.  Other rocks will help, to lesser extents.
 
Ryan Thomas
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From everything I've read, you want a mix of many different types of rock. Granite alone probably will have some benefit, but a more balanced rock dust would be better.

Good resource: http://remineralize.org/
 
                      
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I have some slate from an old pool table. Would that work out?
 
                                              
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maikeru wrote:
Jen, you could maybe consider including some dynamic accumulators that would harvest and concentrate zinc, for example, mustards and sunflowers as mentioned in Gaia's Garden.


It is good to know this idea is out there.... I thought of it one day, and thought I made it up.... 
 
George Lee
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Rock dust in a lasagna bed configuration is extra sweet and special. I've had some GREAT tasting leafy vegetables out of one of my beds amended this way. Full of minerals. Our tongues are very receptive to even minute changes in mineral content. Definitely add your rock dust for the benefit of worm, and man.
 
Jack Shawburn
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"Bread from Stones"
anyone read it?
http://www.soilandhealth.org/01aglibrary/010173.hensel.pdf
 
Jack Shawburn
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In my searches for information on this I found many references.
It seems people have known this for a long time.
Examples such as the Nile river supplying nutrients to the delta
and the Hunza, Yellow River , Great Rift Valley of Kenja...

It makes perfect sense to me that one can apply it and supply
every possible trace element that plants require in the correct quantities.
Please excuse this "Bump" but Any first hand results and experiece
would be much appreciated. ( I have a Ton on order)

I will concentrate it around trees and in veg beds.
Incorporating it into the existing soil will be a huge task.
 
Jordan Lowery
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all you need to do is top dress the rock dusts every now and then jen. no need to till it into the soil. it helps if you spread it out before a light rain this way the water carries it into the soil.
 
Todd Hoff
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I wonder if this a benefit sepp holzer is realizing also by putting rocks around his trees and generously using rocks in general?
 
Jack Shawburn
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Todd , I suspect Sepp is using the rocks mostly as a heat sink.
so it allows him to grow citrus in that cold climate.
This remineralization has really got my attention now.
I will do some tests to see if there are positive reaction in my soil.
 
Jordan Lowery
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for there to be any of a somewhat immediate effect on the soil the rock needs to be in a dust or powder form. this gives a higher surface area for the micro organisms to work on and in turn feed the plants with.

large rocks provide thermal mass.
 
Todd Hoff
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Rocks would erode over time, depositing their minerals  like a time release vitamin.
 
Jack Shawburn
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I got some granite powder from a stone polishing company.
They have a skip that it is dumped into and have to pay to have it removed,
I can get as much as I want - very very fine stuff.
but I will try the Basalt dust - it is also called Greenstone as I can deduct.
Setting up a test plot with control will tell if I get good results.
Todd - It must be fine dust - such as the action of glaciers grinding down rock thus setting the minerals free .
 
Todd Hoff
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Isn't the goal for minerals to enter the soil? Rock weathering and erosion is a mechanism for accomplishing that goal. Rock dust is another more effortful and costly means. I think Sepp's method is quite elegant in it's simplicity. I'm not saying this happens, because I don't know, I just think it's an interesting possibility for a single strategy to have multiple benefits, which seems very permacultury to me.

I found this interesting about growing crops in Hawaii pre manifest destiny: "irrigation waters brought nutrients from rocks to the windward crops."(http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19769093).
 
Jack Shawburn
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Seppp's methods use the rocks as heatsinks.
It does not accomplish remineralization.
 
Todd Hoff
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> It does not accomplish remineralization.

How do you know? Rocks weather, the dissolved minerals would go back into the soil. How could it not accomplish remineralization over time?
 
Jordan Lowery
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it all depends on the parent rock. if its only got so many minerals in it, the rest are not going to pop out of thin air.
 
Jack Shawburn
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So True !
Thats why they use Greenstone (Basalt)
and remineralization will not happen as the rocks weather too slowly and
if plants grow on it continuously.
The weathering of glaciers on rock is what realeases the minerals.
There is a lot of evidence online and it can explain better than I can.
Its worth a bit of online research
 
Daniel Hatfield
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I have been interested in rock dust for a number of years but have never really been able to prove any results. One day I will have enough land to run trials but for now here is a video from a Scottish TV show from a few years ago who visit a place that claim good results.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=163n2n7Bm5I
The TV program in question have been running trials, using the same rock dust product from the video, over the last couple of years without noticing any change.
 
Dan Wallace
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I'm extremely skeptical about the merits of rock dust simply because of the commercial nature of it (bagged product) and lack of empirical research/experimentation
It could very well be true though; anecdotally at least it seems that way. All I know is that I've been growing just fine without it
 
Jack Shawburn
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I'll do my own tests to know if its bogus and
people have been engaged in this futile enterprise for more than a century.
I feel the same way about biodynamic practices.
 
Jordan Lowery
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I'm extremely skeptical about the merits of rock dust simply because of the commercial nature of it (bagged product) and lack of empirical research/experimentation
It could very well be true though; anecdotally at least it seems that way. All I know is that I've been growing just fine without it


who said you have to buy it in a bag or at the store? i go to the local rock supply place and they give me the fines from the crushed river rock(which is at least 20 different kinds of rock) @ 5$ a truckload. enough to cover acres of land.

from my personal experience(5+ years), in most soils rock dusts will increase productivity and overall health of the plants.
 
Paul Cereghino
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I think it is very important to be specific.  SOME rock dust might be mostly silica, aluminum and iron.  On the other hand SOME rock dust is loaded with  calcium and magnesium (dolomite lime), SOME granite has measurable 1 year release of soluble potassium, rock dust is the primary source of phosphorus for the agriculture industry.  SOME rock dust has many micronutrients.  SOME rock dust is absolutely the cheapest way to buy in critical nutrients NECESSARY for agriculture, while SOME rock dust might be bogus, in SOME soils.

(I suspect this could be the conclusion of many topics  )
 
                              
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Going a step beyond just rock dust, if one is looking for a growing medium because of extremely shallow soils has anyone used crusher fines?  I have less than 6" of top soil over 6-12" of fractured rock, over solid granite bedrock.  As I put in terraces, I dig down 12" or so before I can't find enough fractures to break the rock up.  After pulling out the rocks bigger than 2", I'm left with roughly 6" of top soil.  I'll soon have the horses on the property to add organic matter, but I really just need more material, so I've thought about using crusher fines from the local rock quarry.  They'll deliver for about $5-15/yard (depending on volume and distance) vs. $30/yard that I have to transport myself for top soil (about 30 miles round trip, one yard at a time). 

I was thinking about creating a wood chip/manure/crusher fine pile to age for next year's new beds.  Any thoughts?  While I'm all for improving and creating new soil, I have so little topsoil to work with now, I feel like I need something to help me get something to work with.
 
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