Rock dust will reduce fertilizer crisis, check it out!

An alternative to the “crisis” in the supply of fertilizers for Brazilian agriculture, aggravated by the war between Ukraine and Russia, is the exploitation of rock dust.

The idea is widely defended by secretary Jaime Verruck, from Semagro (Secretariat for the Environment, Economic Development, Production and Family Agriculture), who highlights that Soil remineralization with limestone is an alternative to the use of chemical fertilizers. The product has a cheap and genuinely national cost. The Midwest states are the ones that are using this product the most today, and Mato Grosso do Sul attracts at least three mining companies in this segment.

The secretary explains that fertilizers, known as NPK formulations (Nitrogen, Phosphorus and Potassium) are mostly imported (with high costs) and are controlled by few producing countries (USA, Russia, Ukraine, Canada, China and Germany).

“We are seeing the difficulty of importing these fertilizers, due to embargoes to the countries that are at war (Ukraine / Russia) and, mainly, the high cost of importation. In order not to suffer from dependence on this type of highly soluble raw material (NPK), the use of remineralizers (according to rock stone technology principles)becomes a viable alternative (or new technological route), which will help to reduce the use of chemical products, external dependence and remineralization of soils, through the addition of multinutrients (derived from rocks), which will facilitate the recovery and renewal of the soil”, highlighted JaimeVerruck.

According to Semagro’s Mining Productive Chain secretary, Eduardo Pereira, in Mato Grosso do Sul there are already active mining companies that have achieved MAPA registration. These are Mineração Esteio, in the municipality of Itaporã, and Mineração Campo Grande, in the municipality of Terenos. Mineração São Francisco, located in the municipality of Inocência, is also in the process of obtaining registration to sell remineralizers.

These data show that Mato Grosso do Sul has stood out in this new business environment, enhancing the economy and sustainability of the agricultural sector in the region.

Pereira recalls that rock blasting is a technology that provides for the addition of ground rocks to the ground. Rocks must be rich in macro and micronutrients, improving soil fertility, especially tropical soils, acting to reverse erosion and degradation processes caused by human activities or even natural processes caused by weathering.

The use of rock powders is an excellent alternative, since we have several types of rocks with different characteristics in different regions of the country. In Mato Grosso do Sul, for example, there is the Serra Geral formation, which ranges from the south to the north of the state, composed of basaltic rocks.

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Alkaline rocks also occur (Fecho dos Morros and Morro Pão de Açúcar), in the municipality of Porto Murtinho, and limestones and phosphates, in Serra da Bodoquena. In addition, other advantages related to social and environmental aspects are attributed to this technology.

“The use of by-products or co-products derived from quarries and mining companies is also a possibility, since such products may contain minerals with a wide variety of nutrients, including phosphorus, potassium, calcium and magnesium, in addition to of a series of micronutrients, causing a kind of rejuvenation for low fertility soils”, emphasizes Pereira.

Geologist Magda Bergmann pointed out the presence of agricultural inputs in the region of the “Grupo Serra Geral”, in Mato Grosso do Sul, which comprises a good part of the north, southwest, east coast and the center. “Basalt rocks are expressive in plateau lands, which are the areas with the greatest presence of agriculture in MS and, also, the same geological unit occupies part of the south (PR, SC and RS), southeast (SP) and central regions. west (MS, MT and GO) of the country, which received volcanic spills thousands of years ago.

“The new alternative route of inputs for agricultural production is not intended to compete with soluble fertilizers, but to complement the use of these fertilizers. Even the rocks do not have levels equivalent to those of soluble fertilizers and also, not necessarily, they have all the nutrients that a particular agricultural crop requires. We cannot let the knowledge of these rocks be nothing more than a potential”, added Bergmann about the performance of rocks in the use of soil fertilization.

In partnership with CPRM and the State Government, in December 2021, we received Researcher and Geologist Dr. Magda Bergmann, who together with the Secretary of the Productive Chain, Eduardo Pereira, visited the deposits of basaltic and alkaline rocks in several municipalities in the MS”, said secretary Jaime Verruck.

Benefits for commercial and family farming

Research carried out at UnB, and confirmed by other Brazilian researchers, show that the costs of acquiring rock dust are much lower than that of imported inputs (about 20 to 30% of the value of conventional inputs).

Its effect can last for up to four or five consecutive years (slow availability of nutrients); fertility levels are increasing and positive results are still observable up to five years after application of remineralizers; productivity is equivalent or superior to those obtained by conventional fertilization.

In some cases, the yield can be up to 30% higher than that obtained with chemical inputs; long-cycle agricultural crops (sugarcane/cassava) and forest species perform better, because plants use the nutrients available for a longer period of time as they grow.

Geologist and researcher Eder Martins, from Embrapa Cerrado, report that Remineralizers (rock dust) have already been applied to about 3 million hectares in Brazil in 2021 alone. Members of the Sustainable Agriculture Support Group (GAAS), from Goiás, mention that they have been applying rock dust for more than 10 years in their fields.

“Some producers have reached a situation where they have completely replaced conventional fertilizers with rock dust, and with the main objectives of increasing the efficiency of nutrient use in production systems, contributing to carbon sequestration and the formation of stable aggregates in the soil. . All these processes are based on regional and local inputs integrated by processes that imitate nature, which reduces dependence on technological packages and, consequently, production costs”, summarizes Eder Martins.

The PNF-Plano Nacional de Fertilizantes includes as a goal the certification of up to 1,000 mines by the year 2050, potentially supplying remineralizers to all regions of Brazil, with a production of around 18 million tons. According to forecasts by companies in the sector, this amount will be quickly exceeded, well before the year 2050, relieving national farmers in terms of importing fertilizers. “To date, we have 31 mining companies located in nine states that already produce remineralizers according to the rules established in Normative Instruction 05/2013 MAPA and which regulated Law No. 12,890/2013”, concluded the secretary.


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