Fun with Rock Dust

It’s weird – for whatever reason, as of late I seem to be connecting with a variety of really interesting people and being presented with unexpected opportunities! This past Friday was a prime example.

Back in February I received an email from Klaas Baan of Agricultural Mineral Prospectors Inc (AMP), asking if I might be interested in testing a refined agro-mineral product his company sells. It sounded reasonably interesting, but for some reason I had it in my mind that it was a coarse gravel, with limited potential for anything composting related (I thought maybe I could test it out as a vermiponics growing medium) – looking back at our first exchange now I see that it was simply a matter of me not reading closely enough (DOH!).

Well, a few months went by with no further communication with Klaas and, as per usual, I completely forgot about it – until this week when he sent me an email asking if I was still interested in testing the material out. Long-story-short we set up a meeting time on Friday and he drove to my place for the drop-off and chat.

The material in question is called “Spanish River Carbonatite” (links to AMP website), and it’s a calcium-rich mineral mix of ancient volcanic origin. Not only is it not a “gravel” – screening leaves a very fine particulate matter (first picture below) – but they’ve even micronized it (the material in the second picture below) to greatly reduce the particle size (on par with the size of bacteria if I remember correctly).

Once I saw how fine even the unrefined product was, and learned about the various agricultural/composting applications it’s been used in, my head started to spin with possibilities! For quite some time I’ve been meaning to see if I could track down some “rock dust” to test as a worm bed conditioner (alternative to ag lime) and compost tea additive – so this stuff certainly fits the bill with flying colors (especially considering the impressive suite of plant nutrients and micronutrients it contains). Vermicompost is pretty impressive in its own right, but I have a sneaking suspicion it will be even more potent with some rock dust mixed in!

Here are some things I want to test out:

1) Effect of rock dusts on worm growth/reproduction
2) Effect of rock dusts on composting process in general (does it help speed it up? slow it down? no effect?)
3) Effect of rock dusts on plant growth – I’ll be testing it out in my gardening efforts this year, but I have plans for some actual experiments. I’m interested to compare growth in: 1) potting soil 2) vermicompost and potting soil 3) rock dust and potting soil 4) vermicompost and rock dust in potting soil and 5) solely vermicompost.

I also want to add some of the micronized dust to compost teas and test these out as well!

So much to test, so little time! Haha

Whatever I end up doing – rest assured, I’ll keep everyone posted!

If you want to learn more about the benefits of using rock dust and other agro-mineral products, apart from checking out the AMP website (linked above), be sure to spend some time on Remineralize The Earth.

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    • John Duffy
    • June 6, 2011

    Sounds very interesting. After checking out their website, I’d say some interesting results will be forthcoming. I suspect mineral dust may soon be a “must have” item for all of us worm heads

  1. Maybe it is because it is powdered, but this stuff reminds me of diatomaceous earth. Won’t that stuff kill worms if it is concentrated?

  2. JOHN – Yep, should be interesting! Going to start testing this week!
    DAVID – While the powder may have a similar appearance to DE, it is a completely different material. DE is crushed diatoms (specialized algae with a silica-based outer shell called a “frustule”) and if you examined it closely it would be like shards of broken glass.

    • John Duffy
    • June 7, 2011

    Since this product is calcium rich, I suspect it would make a great soil ammendment for growing some killer tomatoes…My kids are gonna think I’ve taken a permanent trip to Goofytown if I ask for a 25lb bag of Spanish River Carbonatite for Father’s Day. I still get a bit of the “rolled-eyed, head shake” when I talk about my worm herd…( that is, until they want to go fishing)…No worries. I have broad shoulders and a short attention span. It’s all good!

    • Bentley
    • June 7, 2011

    I think you are right, John. Klaas actually told me about some people having excellent success using it to grow heirloom tomatoes here in Ontario.

    • Steve K
    • June 8, 2011

    Woohoo! More experiments means more data, and I always get excited about the possibility of data. Please take lots of notes and keep me in the loop.

    On an unrelated note, I am moving soon and had to break down the Worm Inn for the time being and concentrate everything back into the classic BOM-6000 for ease of transport. I split my colony and gave half to a friend of mine to start her own bin. The Bentley composting chain remains unbroken….

    • joe
    • July 19, 2011

    i think more well-known rock dusts include Azomite, Gaia’s Green Glacial something or other, and New Jersey Greensand or Glauconite….these are all used in gardening circles as well as something called volcanic rock powder, which i don’t have any trade names of….supposedly the trace minerals supplied by these rock powders leads to a better flavored crop of fruits or vegetables…

    • Buddy
    • July 31, 2011

    My worms love leonardite, rock dust and greensand sprinkled on top of their bedding/food. I cover the end of a flash light with a red peanut butter jar lid and sneak up on them to watch them eat. They are all over it. They especially like the leonardite or rather the microbes like it, then the worms like them (lol). If things are a little dry, I sprinkle some cantaloupe water or what ever kind of fruit water I have on top too. Ok, here I go again! Bye!

    • Buddy
    • July 31, 2011

    Oh, look Bentley, it’s 4:20 AM my time and 9:20 AM (?) your time! lol ha ha

    • Brendan
    • June 11, 2013

    Hey Bentley, Where can i find your results?

    • Bentley
    • June 13, 2013

    Hey Brendan,
    Unfortunately I didn’t end up getting anything “official” set up that year. I am hoping to do some testing this season though, since I am now using the rock dust again.

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