Our soil is the foundation of all land-based life. It is the be all and end all. You
can have the very best genetic parent material but will find no gain in planting
in soil that is mineral deficient, depleted of organic matter and devoid of microbial
Soil’s main mineral base consists of decayed rock, soil creation occuring via
several natural processes: Glacial activity accounts for the bulk of soil creation
as each ice age (with the last one ending about 12 000 years ago) covered the
planet with glaciers from the poles halfway to the tropics. During the 90 000 year
phase of each ice age, these glaciers (up to 3 km thick) would grind away at the
surface bed rock of the planet underneath. When the glaciers receded they left
beds of pulverised rock of up to 3 meters deep in their wake.
These new beds of freshly ground rock contained all the minerals & trace elements
necessary for the foundation of good soil. The result was an incredible richness
of life. The trees in the ancient forests of Europe and America were huge – often
over 30m to the first branches!
Volcanic activity also account for soil fertility – people will farm on the slopes of
dormant volcanoes (despite the inherent risk involved…) because the volcanic
ash causes the soil to be exceptionally fertile. Remineralisation occurs more
frequently via volcanic activity, but it is localized and not on the same kind of
scale as per glaciers.
On an ongoing basis, weathering and basic microbial and plant life account for
further breakdown of rocks, releasing minerals and trace elements, but at such
a slow rate as to be negligible in our current scenario…
After centuries of ever increasing pollution and squander, our soils are a mere
shadow of what they once were. Deforestation and intensive cultivation have
imposed a vicious cycle of soil destruction. Over the last century acid rains and
other air pollutants have accelerated the aging of many soils, whilst the
increasing use of water soluble, poisonous chemical fertilizers, herbicides and
pesticides have also increased the exhaustion of soil nutrients and biological life.
The symptoms of mineral depletion are everywhere, and getting worse each
year. Not only is the acreage of arable farmland shrinking worldwide, but we are
also experiencing accelerating deterioration in the fertility, tilth and productivity
of our remaining soils. Our soils are compacted, nearly lifeless and easily eroded
away. Plants and trees are sickly, stunted and sensitive to frosts and droughts.
Crops are insipid, diseased, nutritionally inferior and susceptible to insect attacks.
Poor soil quality is the bottom-line common variable responsible for widespread
physical and mental deterioration. Poor soil quality makes for nutrient deficient
crops, which in turn create weak bodies and minds. Diets lacking in nutrients,
especially trace minerals – lead not only to physical maladies and impaired
learning, but also to antisocial behavior and even violence. It’s no coincidence
that both degenerative disease and crime are escalating, as IQ and nutritional
status decline. These things are connected. At the bottom of the chain is the
connecting link of impoverished soil delivering nutritionally inferior foodstuffs -
a global problem.
Soil renewal has been the subject of much research over the past two centuries,
with the South-African connection being one Octave de Hotman de Villiers, a
renowned agronomist (soil scientist). His work in both the sugarcane industry,
as well as with trails at Cedara Agricultural College, spanned over 50 years and
culminated in his granddaughter realising his deathbed wish by launching
Turbo-Grow, a uniquely South-African soil remineralisation product.
To restore topsoil we require an abundant supply of minerals and trace elements
- complex combinations of chemical elements. Minerals are usually metals
combined with oxygen, hydrogen, nitrogen, other non-metals, and water. These
minerals are blended together in crystalline and amorphous forms as the rocks
of Mother Earth.
The raw, elemental minerals are digested, reformed and transformed by
microbes, algae, lichen and other simple life forms. The simplest organisms
perform the primary task of transforming rock minerals and trace elements into
protoplasm. Plants then combine these carbon-bound soil minerals with
sunshine, water and carbon dioxide to create sugars, the universal fuel for
biological life. Through the miracle of photosynthesis, magnesium in chlorophyll
liberates oxygen and sunshine is captured in carbohydrates. As in the
chlorophyll molecule itself, the minerals form the heart of biological cells, and
supply the electric charges required to fire nature’s chemical reactions.
All rocks are not equal in their ability to provide nutrients. Volcanic rock
contains the broadest spectrum of elements, in proper balance with the highest
count of silicon, the forgotten element…
The ideal natural form to feed elements to soil is as the insoluble minerals
available from finely ground up rocks.This process is called soil remineralisation.
To maximize the conversion of rock minerals into protoplasm and plant nutrients,
the best strategy is to grind the rocks to powder. This increases the surface
area of rock that is exposed and accessible to soil microbes. A normal fist size
rock has a surface area of a few square centimetres, but ground to the
consistency of talcum powder, the rock has a surface area of several thousand
square metres! This means microbes can much more rapidly access and
consume the rock’s minerals, and thus more rapidly digest them into plant
nutrients. The finer the rock is powdered, the greater the exposed surface area,
and the more rapidly the soil microbes will digest it. Turbo-Grow’s particle size is
80 micron and smaller, ensuring maximum assimilation in minimum time!
For maximum vitality, it’s important to supply soil with ALL the nutrients that are
essential for plant and animal growth. Not merely NPK and major elements –
Nitrogen, Phosphorus, Potassium, as well as Calcium and Magnesium (NPK and
Ca & Mg) – but all the elements, especially the trace elements which are so
sadly neglected in conventional agriculture. Since the very beginning of life itself
72+ minerals & trace elements have been incoporated in the basic functioning of
all life. There are at least a dozen other elements, beyond the major seven, that
mainstream science now accepts as necessary for healthy plants. Many more
are needed by specialized soil microbes, which fulfil special functions to create
soil and fertility, such as synthesizing certain enzymes, vitamins, antibiotics, or
other critical bio-molecules. Most are required in extremely tiny amounts
(micrograms or less) and thus are called trace elements.
Most trace elements dissolve into water faster than the major elements. So, in
an average soil, trace elements leach out of soils faster than major elements.
Acid rain, soluble chemical fertilizers and excessive tillage accelerate this
removal of trace elements. The consequence is that all soils eventually and
easily become deficient in minor or trace elements. Continued doses with NPK
and lime fertilizers will not resolve these deficiencies, but actually make them
Trace elements play a key role in the function of many enzymes and hormones.
One consequence of this is that a very tiny amount trace element has an
exceedingly great effect on the healthy function of plants and animals. For
example, it is well known that insufficient iodine will induce goiter, a disease of
the thyroid gland. A cobalt deficiency will leave us without vitamin B12, and
thus unable to manufacture red blood cells. Neither is needed in more than a
microgram per day – an amount that will easily fit on a pinhead.
To supply soil with a balanced, complete source of these essential elements,
certain simple principles apply. Plants and animals require elements in specific
proportions, not simply in specific quantities. Mineral nutrients must be supplied
at certain ratios. The principle of proportion means that the least exert the
greatest effect. A tiny amount of a trace element can be more crucial to proper
growth and health than a large amount of the major elements. Thus, the least is
often the greatest.
Another principle is to feed the soil, not the plant. Microbes consume and digest
minerals, and thus convert them to forms more easily absorbed and used by
plants. Conventional agriculture shortcuts this microbial feeding chain by using
synthetic chemicals to supply nutrients as soluble salts that are directly
absorbed by plant roots. But we now know many bacteria and fungi actually
pump nutrients into roots ten times or more faster than soluble salts are
absorbed. In return, microbes receive sugars and other carbon compounds
secreted by plant roots.
Compost (the amount depending on the organic content of the specific soil) and
Turbo-Grow worked into the soil will create perfect conditions for soil processes
to take place and to stabilize (don’t forget to water either…) releasing mineral
nutrients for plant assimilation. Extensive international trails have shown that
remineralising the earth with rock dust is the only effective and sustainable
means of restoring minerals & trace elements to depleted soils, with the
consequential increased microbial action also speeding up the conversion time
from conventional to organic agriculture (as an added bonus) as the breakdown
of soil pollutants is accelerated.
By growing your plants on remineralised soil you enable the plants to reach their
full genetic potential, with natural resistance to insects, disease, frost and
drought. You can expect higher yields of more nutritious foodstuffs with less
input costs (compared to conventional chemical fertilisers) coupled to the
commercial premium that organic produce demands.
Turbo-Grow is South-Africa’s very own remineralisation product, and as Rock
Dust is a free natural input under the SGS Organic Production Standard. It is an
invaluable aid to the organic farmer (and gardener), because even after
successfully converting from conventional agriculture the sad fact is that the
minerals, the base of all life, are not replenished! The food may be grown
without chemical fertilisers, pesticides, herbicides and other poisonous
agro-chemicals, but eliminating the poisons is only half the cure. One still has to
replace the minerals and trace elements that have been lost over the years,
and here remineralising with Turbo-Grow provides the solution.