Soil Research Soil Research Society
Soil, land care and environmental research

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A review and outlook of agromineral research in agriculture and climate mitigation

Guanru Zhang , Jinting Kang , Chen Zhu

Abstract

Agrominerals, the finely ground rocks and minerals used as low-cost fertilizers have received more attention in recent years as sustainable development and climate change mitigation have come to the forefront of societal concerns. Here, we summarize progress in agromineral research over the last twenty years, and discuss the challenges and opportunities of this discipline. The idea of agrominerals has been around since the early 19th century. However, the widespread application is subject to the economic practicality. In recent years, two big trends have dominated agromineral research. First, some global warming mitigation strategies, such as “enhanced chemical weathering” and bio-energy carbon capture and storage (BECCS) call for the application of rock powders in arable lands on a massive scale. This gives agromineral research an urgency and significance. Second, advances in knowledge of mineral weathering kinetics are poised to transform predictions of agronomic effectiveness from mere empirical studies to a more quantitative evaluation. We now have a much better understanding of the factors that influence weathering and nutrient release rates. We forecast that rapid advances in some areas of biogeochemistry will enable advances in the study of agrominerals. In particular, we will be able to measure weathering and nutrient release rates at the field scale, and ultimately to predict kinetic processes of mineral dissolution/precipitation in soil-water-plant systems and the cycling of nutrients and toxic elements in agriculture lands.

SR17157  Accepted 18 August 2017

© CSIRO 2017