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Enhancing the growth of plants on inhospitable land using a biological fertiliser

last modified Nov 20, 2017 04:11 PM
A simple mixture of organic waste, such as chicken manure and zeolite, a porous volcanic mineral, has been developed into a powerful bio-fertiliser which can also reclaim semi-arid and contaminated land.
Enhancing the growth of plants on inhospitable land using a biological fertiliser

Oil Seed Rape (Brassica napus) growing in acid sulphide mine waste from a site near Fron Goch in Central Wales

Food and biofuel crops can now be grown and sustained in many places where it wasn’t previously possible, such as deserts, former mining sites, and marginal land thanks to an inexpensive, non-chemical soil additive that functions biologically.

The additive, a simple mixture of organic waste, such as chicken manure, and natural zeolite, a porous volcanic mineral, can be used to support agriculture in both the developed and developing world, while avoiding the serious environmental consequences associated with the overuse of traditional chemical fertilisers. The mixture permits a controlled slow release of nutrients and the regulation of water, providing an ideal environment for growing crops.

Plant growth experiments have been conducted at the Botanic Garden, University of Cambridge and a new approach to plant nutrition has been developed.   Peter J. Leggo, working in the Department of Earth Sciences, University of Cambridge, has together with colleagues demonstrated that with the addition of the bio-fertiliser, biofuel crops can be successfully grown and – more importantly, sustained - even on acid sulphide wine waste , coal waste and metal refinery residues.

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The development of the biological fertilizer including a full account of the geological, mineralogical  and plant growth experiments are given in “The Properties and Function of the Organo-Zeolitic Bio-fertilizer” published by LAP Lambert Academic Publishing Company,  Saarbrücken, Germany.

Earth Sciences at Cambridge

Saturday 22 September 2018: A one-day conference bringing together international scientists to mark 200 years since Adam Sedgwick was appointed to the Woodwardian Chair of Geology.

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