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Unique Northern geological formation produces important ag nutrients

formation produces important ag nutrients

April 23, 2008  By Jim Meyers

Amidst the rocks and trees of
Northern Ontario just west of Sudbury there’s something different in
the ground. Mixed with the scrubby Scotch pines scratching an existence
out of shallow soils scattered between the rock formations, there was a
stand of white pine.

Amidst the rocks and trees of Northern Ontario just west of Sudbury there’s something different in the ground. Mixed with the scrubby Scotch pines scratching an existence out of shallow soils scattered between the rock formations, there was a stand of white pine.

The difference was noticeable to a trained eye and inevitably led to the question – why?


Why are those trees there? Why are they thriving in a generally inhospitable region?

The area was obviously different and the reason had to be on, or more to the point, in the ground.

A close look and analysis showed that the area was indeed different. The soil contained a host of minerals in unique combination. The thriving trees were receiving all of the nutrients they needed from an unusual geologic formation.

What had been found is now called the Spanish River Complex and the site of Spanish River Carbonatite.

John Slack, who developed the site, says Spanish River Carbonatite is “a rare and unique igneous calcite deposit sourcing magma from extreme depth.”

It is an ancient volcano formed under pressure and heat. It is similar to kimberlite pipes which host diamonds and

It is under the extreme volcanic pressures that nascent calcite was formed, along with zones rich in biotite, apatite, rare earths and magnetite.

While other areas have similar deposits, the Spanish River Calcite is the most reactive calcium carbonate tested, Slack said.

“There is no other calcium carbonate that will readily dissolve in atmospheric conditions, without grinding” and it has “a wider spectrum of trace elements than limestone and dolomite,” he said.

What this means to farmers is that the Spanish River site produces an exceptional agromineral fertilizer: a granular blend of reactive calcite, apatite, biotite, vermiculite and an abundance of trace elements.

Doug Wall, an asparagus and cherry grower near Port Burwell just north of Lake Erie, has been using and testing the carbonatite for about four years and recording the results for the Norfolk Soil and Crop Improvement Association.

When asked how it has performed he said: “It’s been very effective, I’m continuing to use it,” he said.

The quality of his asparagus is up and yields have improved by more than 20 per cent. In addition, “it is very cost effective – it’s amazingly cheap to use,” he said.

An additional benefit is that is it completely natural, Wall said, adding he didn’t notice much change in his soil quality or production in the first two years he used the carbonatite. But in the next two years the change has been dramatic.

Wall’s test plot was set up in alternating 32-foot strips covering nine acres. The application rate was 1,300 lbs./acre per year. This spring was the third application of SRC for a total of 3,900 lbs./acre.

The first full harvest was done in June of this year.

In the control strips the Brix measured between seven and eight per cent. The plots with Spanish River Carbonatite had Brix readings averaging between 12 and 13 per cent. The average spear production for Norfolk is between 2,500 and 3,000 lbs. per acre. This year, due to a severe winter and cool, wet spring average production was below average. Meanwhile, the initial yield calculation for the SRC plots, including the control plots is 5,400 lbs. The final production on the SRC plots will be approximately 6,000 lbs per acre.

Slack says the carbonatite is more than just a source of calcium and phosphate.

One tonne of Spanish River Carbonatite contains: 650 kg calcite – 65 per cent CaCO; 120 kg apatite (rock phosphate); 3.14% P2O5;150 kg biotite/vermiculite – 0.84 K2O; 80 kg accessory minerals and trace elements – pyroxene, feldspar, magnetite (magnesium, manganese, rare earths, iron, copper, zinc, cobalt, etc.).
After five years of production 15,000 tonnes have been distributed in Southern Ontario, Quebec, Michigan, Vermont, New York, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Iowa and West Virginia.

The average application was 837 lbs./acre and covered approximately 40,000 acres.

On acid soils, visual response has occurred in six weeks. Increased germination, darker foliage, broader leaves, thicker stems and larger root mass was reported by farmers, Slack said.

Tissue analysis of forage crops, grain and tomatoes showed increases in macro and micro mineral content when compared to control plots.

On acidic soils, trials showed improved mineral content and dramatically reduced aluminum levels below toxic levels.

All fruit tree and berry applications responded showing deeper green foliage, vigorous new growth, improved tree health, better quality fruit and higher brix readings.

Spanish River Carbonatite is: certified organic (OCPP); registered as fertilizer with Canadian Food Inspection Agency; and has passed B.C. Special Waste Management Guidelines and M.O.E Guidelines.

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