In 2017 Achillea Endeavours was pleased to support Bradley Wright of Bluegrass Farm with a research grant to support his experiment of using rock minerals to improve carrot flavour and nutrition. According to Brad’s view of soil science, “there is not enough consideration of micronutrients, trace nutrients and rare nutrients. As agriculture has relied heavily on yields, the science has focused on nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium.” It is Brad’s belief that farmers can achieve better tasting, healthier food, “through a combination of increasing nutrient availability via rock mineral additions, increasing soil biology diversity, and increasing organic matter and soil organic carbon.”
His project involved using three separate rock minerals as soil amendments to a carrot crop. The carrot was chosen as it is a vegetable that most people can taste the difference conventional and organic. Testing was conducted with a refractometer to determine brix levels. Brad kept track of three different carrots beds, completed the brix testing and had his CSA members participate in a taste test.
Of the three rock minerals applied, the application of basalt to the soil resulted in that bed of carrots having the highest brix levels. These were also the carrots that CSA members identified as having the best taste and sweetest flavour.
As a result of this research study, Brad feels, “that there is a need for more holistic soil science, where we consider the role of micronutrients not just on plant yield, but on plant nutrition, soil microorganism activity and human health. There is an urgent need to remineralize the land with micronutrients and trace elements that play critical roles in the agroecosystem.” He concludes, “rock minerals are cost effective, slow release, and readily available. In contrast to conventional chemical fertilizers, rock minerals offer a low risk of groundwater contamination and are compliant with the organic production regime. Our initial experiment has shown enough promise that it is worth further investigation of additional rock dusts on carrots and other vegetable crops at Bluegrass Farm.”
You can read all the details of this project here.