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Basalt rock dust used to permanently reduce the world's carbon cycle

Global Goals & Global Society
Basalt rock dust used to permanently reduce the world's carbon cycle

Agriculture-tech startup is using basalt rock dust as fertilizer as an innovative approach to not only absorb carbon but permanently remove it from the world's carbon cycle.

When used at scale, 3 tons of rock dust can remove 1 ton of CO2 at its highest production, providing a return on investment with a virtually limitless capacity.

Based on a mutually beneficial trade, the business model enriches the farmer's crops with iron, phosphorus, magnesium, and calcium, which can increase yields by as much as 47% when compared to agricultural limestone dust. The company, Lithos Carbon, pays a cut to the farmers and sells the dust application as carbon credits to enterprises seeking to offset their emissions.“My approach to this is, if you can give farmers something that they will want and love and need, then they will do that,” Lithos CEO Mary Yap told Fast Company. “And then you will scale carbon capture almost as a side effect. One of my farmers has said, ‘I can’t eat carbon credits.’ Really, the crops at the end of the day are the thing that matters.”

One of the key processes in the global carbon cycle is where the carbon is captured. Rain drops CO2 into the soil and oceans after partially absorbing it from the air. The carbon is trapped in the basalt before it is carried downstream by rivers and into the ocean when rain falls on a field treated with Lithos basalt rock dust. Once in the ocean, a wide variety of species use it to build their shells, including mollusks. Once they pass away, their shells sink to the ocean floor, where the carbon is often preserved forever.

The most prevalent volcanic rock on Earth is basalt, which is generated in the mining sector in millions of tons year, thereby ensuring a supply.

The main difficulty arises from the fact that each field will employ various amounts and methods of applying dust. Inhaling too much can release CO2 could be harmful. Together with Yale University, they have created sophisticated software for that.

Currently, Lithos is in charge of 14 farms; the most recent of them saw 1,500 tons of rust spread across 140 acres, which were intended to absorb 384 tons of CO2.

Agritech startups are changing the agricultural industry and how the world farms. They are providing new solutions to old problems and making agriculture more efficient and sustainable. Agritech is the future of farming. It has to be supported by the global society so that they can continue to innovate and improve the agricultural industry and make a progress to achieve certain Sustainable Development Goals.

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