EGU23-15333, updated on 26 Feb 2023
EGU General Assembly 2023
© Author(s) 2023. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

The effects of olivine fertilization on growth and elemental composition of barley and wheat differ with olivine grain size and rain regimes. 

Jet Rijnders1, Sara Vicca1, Eric Struyf1, Thorben Amann2, Jens Hartmann2, Patrick Meire1, Ivan Janssens1, and Jonas Schoelynck1
Jet Rijnders et al.
  • 1University of Antwerp, Biology, Belgium
  • 2University of Hamburg, Institute for Geology, Germany

With rising population growth, there is a need for increased food production. With rising temperatures and more frequent droughts due to climate change, it becomes more challenging to keep up with this increased demand for food. Therefore, a change in land use and management is needed in which enhanced silicate weathering (ESW) can play an important role. Weathering of silicate rocks has been regulating the atmospheric CO2 concentrations for over decades, but with the rise in atmospheric CO2, the natural weathering is too slow. Grinding the silicate rocks into a fine powder and spread it over for example agricultural fields will increase the reactive surface area and hence, the amount of CO2 that is stored in soils. The application of silicate minerals to soils can enhance plant growth by multiple processes, for example by counteracting soil acidification and by the release of plant nutrients. In this way, ESW can be used on agricultural fields without competing for land like other carbon capture techniques (e.g. Bio-Energy with carbon capture and storage). This study investigates the use of olivine (a fast-weathering Mg-rich silicate mineral) as a fertilizer in agriculture using a full-factorial mesocosm experiment. Barley and wheat were grown under two different rain regimes (daily rain vs weekly rain) and with application of two different grain sizes of olivine (p80 = 1020 µm and p80 = 43.5 µm). Our results showed increased plant growth and biomass with olivine addition, albeit only for fine olivine. However, this was not translated in an increase in yield of wheat and barley. Besides changes in biomass, we found significant differences in plant nutrient concentrations. As expected, Mg concentration increased significantly. However, BSi and Ca concentrations decreased with fine olivine application. Nitrogen in grains was also increased in the fine olivine treatment. In contrast to fine olivine, coarse olivine addition had almost no influence on nutrients. Ca, Mg and Si concentrations in plant samples followed the same trend as in the soil pore water, in contrast to metal concentrations. Olivine addition increased Ni and Cr availability in the soil pore water, but the concentrations of these elements in plant tissue did not increase and were even below detection limit for the majority of samples. While the influence of olivine on metal concentrations in plant samples was not affected by rain treatment, the influence of olivine on nutrients in the plants and plant growth was. Fine olivine addition enhanced the plants resistance to drought as it reduced the decrease in biomass with weekly rain treatment compared to daily rain treatment. This positive effect of olivine addition can be due to the increased weathering rate in combination with enhancement of soil properties like increased soil water retention. In this way, the use of olivine as a fertilizer on agricultural fields can mitigate climate change while it can also contribute to the solution for increased food demand.

How to cite: Rijnders, J., Vicca, S., Struyf, E., Amann, T., Hartmann, J., Meire, P., Janssens, I., and Schoelynck, J.: The effects of olivine fertilization on growth and elemental composition of barley and wheat differ with olivine grain size and rain regimes. , EGU General Assembly 2023, Vienna, Austria, 24–28 Apr 2023, EGU23-15333,, 2023.