Philipp Swoboda

Research themes
  • Land use and food security
  • Environmental and climate change
  • Ecosystem services
  • Sustainable use of natural resources
  • New Technologies
  • Land, water, food and energy
Research countries
  • India

Food systems, food security, complexity theory and systems thinking, minerals in agriculture, rock weathering, silicate minerals, soil science,

Thesis title

Turning Rocks to Bread? Agricultural usage of rock dust in the context of One Health

Thesis abstract

The application of finely ground rock dust as a low-cost fertilizer and soil amendment is receiving increased attention. Opposed to soluble NPK fertilizers, rock forming silicate minerals contain most of the macro- and micro nutrients required by higher plants for growth and development. The use of rock dust is particularly stressed in deeply leached oxisol soil environments widespread in the global south, where soluble fertilizers are rapidly leached and often unaffordable for farmers.

Scientific results are still contradictory due to inconsistent weathering rates, reported benefits however include improved crop production as well as improvement of pH, CEC, increased plant pest and diseases resistance, and sequestering CO2. Moreover, mixing of rock dust with solid manure reduced NH3 emissions and doubled herbage N recovery when applied to grassland. Farmers in Germany mix slurry (liquid manure) with rock dust, claiming reduced smell and a concomitant reduction of NH3 emissions. There are however no scientific studies about the effects of rock dust mixed with slurry, which is one of the main sources of agricultural NH3 emissions and thus N losses. The aim of this study is therefore to (1) review the field of agricultural rock dust application in the context of One Health and to (2) analyse the effects of mixing slurry with rock dust on NH3 emissions under controlled conditions. To measure potential reductions in NH3 emissions, slurry samples with or without rock dust additions will be placed in sealable plastic boxes that are connected to a photoacoustic gas monitor. Replicated measurements will be taken periodically over a course of three days, since most of the NH3 emissions occur within the first three days.


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Philipp Swoboda

Junior Researcher One Health

Department :
ZEF C: Department of Ecology and Natural Resources Management