By Dr. Mercola
Nutrient-dense food is key for optimal health, and for this you need healthy soil. More specifically, without the proper minerals in the soil, the plants cannot reach their genetic potential. Dr. August Dunning is chief science officer a company that specializes in mineral products for hydroponics and home gardens.
He’s also associated with one of the premiere technical universities in the world, the California Institute of Technology (Caltech), and has developed some truly groundbreaking ionic mineral products, extracted from ocean water, for use in sustainable agriculture.
“I started working with the platinum-group elements (PGEs) at Caltech. I found some really interesting characteristics in ionic form of the elements, and found that that’s the only form of element that works in plants, because plants can only pass ions and small molecules through the pumps in the cell surfaces,” he says.
Many experts now warn that nearly all commercial agricultural topsoil around the world will be lost in the next 60 years if practices don’t change. This makes soil regeneration a vitally important issue.
Why Are Soil Minerals so Important?
In the soil, minerals provide an essential ingredient for most enzyme systems to function properly. Without the appropriate minerals an otherwise perfectly produced enzyme will not work and provide nutrients to the plant, or protect it from pests.
This is one of the reasons that Roundup (glyphosate) works. It binds up important minerals like zinc, manganese, and many others making them unavailable to the plant.
Soil can also be viewed as an interface between biology and geology. Minerals have electronic valence potentials that attract, mediate, and moderate enzymes to be used in other processes. Without minerals, metabolic enzymatic processes cannot occur.
This is why when minerals are added back to the soil you will frequently see massive increases in plant growth. On the other side of the coin, decreases in yield and poor plant growth are associated with modern agricultural techniques that strip too many minerals from the soil.
For ground cover, mulch of wood chips or other biomass can be used for smaller areas. In commercial settings, a cocktail cover crop is an important strategy that will help promote remineralization of the soil by increasing soil microbes that will extract the minerals from the soil.
Nitrogen-fixing crops, such as alfalfa and other grasses, actually have specific bacteria growing on their roots that can grind up rock, thereby producing minerals that support the biome and the soil subsurface to correctly decompose.
“‘There’s always a balance in what’s going on in the soil. There’s this huge amount of bacterial diversity and an enormous amount of enzymatic production,’ Dr. Dunning says.
‘If you have good bacteria, they’re going to have great enzymes, which can help incorporate these minerals and the nutrients in the plants.
What you’re trying to do with these cover crops is two things: to control moisture loss, because when you just have bare fields, it dries up and your soil blows away.
But if you do multiple types and different types of crops, you can have this huge plethora of biological diversity. That allows all sorts of things to develop in that soil or the plants in the soil while you’re not cropping more food.’”
Cocktail cover cropping with dozens of different species is different from crop rotation, where you would typically grow a crop for three years, and then for a year you allow the field to go fallow and just plant weeds.
The key for healthy soil that cocktail cover crops provide is diversity. Growing a wide variety of flowering plants that flower at different times also provides plenty of food for plant pollinators.
The Benefits of Rock Dust
The late William Albrecht was the first to discover that you can remineralize the soil simply by adding rock dust. It’s an old-timer technique that still works, although faster acting methods have now been developed — Dr. Dunning’s mineral products being one of the best.
Different rock types provide different spreads of minerals. Granite, for example, contains a lot of potassium. Dr. Dunning likes glacial gravels, as it has a large mixture of many different elements.
As explained by Dr. Dunning:
“[Rock dust] are huge particles, a particle the size of a periodic page that’s a hundred million atoms. But only individual atoms can be used. What the soil microbes do is they get in there, enzymatically chew off those atoms on the surface of those rock pieces, and make them bioavailable.
Bioavailability is ionic availability; it feeds them. Their byproducts, all the way up to worm castings, produce ionic elements that are necessary for plants.
That’s why worm castings work so great. When you put ionic elements directly in the soil, they get neatly absorbed.
Rock dust is a nice time release. Rock dusts are wonderful for reestablishing and regrowing population of microorganisms. If you do it by the plant, you can do it [in your garden].
But if you are mending an entire 100 acres, you’re going to need thousands of pounds of rock powder. That becomes an impractical issue with big growers trying to provide that kind of restoration.”
The Benefits of Ionic Ocean Minerals
In contrast to the slow time-release of rock dust, ionic ocean minerals are instantly bioavailable. You don’t have to wait years for the rock dust minerals to integrate themselves into the plant. Ocean water also has the added benefit of containing all the necessary elements in the appropriate ratios.
We’ve had this appreciation of the importance of minerals for soil- and plant health for a long time, but what’s been lacking is the optimal way to supply these minerals.
The late Maynard Murray began promoting the use of ocean water solids about 40-50 years ago. The sodium chloride found in the ocean water is an important part of the equation, and if you don’t get that right, it’s not going to work. Dr. Dunning explains:
‘You have to have some sodium in plants. That’s what gives plants their stiffness. We have to have sodium, too. It gives us some strength in our vascular system.
The thing with the salt is that it’s just like when you tell a patient to gargle with salt water for sore throat, he kills the bacteria in the throat. You don’t want to incorporate all the sodium in the soil and kill the bacteria in the soil, because the bacteria and the microorganisms in the soil are actually being used to provide nutrition for the plants to absorb. There are companies that dissolve and evaporate seawater, and then redilute it 10 to a 100 times to [achieve] the minimum required to be reasonably safe.
In areas where there’s a lot of rainfall you can probably use these sea salts a little easier because the rain washes it out. In drier areas, like the San Joaquin Valley, Arizona, or New Mexico, it’s just going to build up and then it will kill your soil organisms. You’ll decrease yields or you’ll have no yields at all.
The trick has been to figure out how to take the salt out of salt water and then concentrate the minerals, so you can get them into the soil. Because the cool thing about minerals is once they’re in there (without the sodium), there’s almost no toxicity. We’ve done experiments of four or five times that we normally put on plants and it just lays there. It doesn’t hurt the plant. To be able to actually provide a concentrated supply of these minerals without salt allows us the ability to really replenish soil quickly as soil minerals in foliar sprays.”
Dr. Dunning’s company has developed a product in which the salt has been selectively removed. No other mineral company has been able to do that. One way in which this is done is by using magnets combined with vortex. Dr. Dunning invented a device that capitalizes on the implosion technology developed by Viktor Schauberger.
When water is forced together into a tight spiral and collapsed in on itself the energy density increases greatly, causing molecular splitting. Because all mineral elements have positive and negative charges, you can then use selectively active magnetic field variations to separate the minerals from the salt.
When sprayed around your garden, these concentrated ionic minerals are rapidly incorporated into the soil microbes, which then symbiotically feed your plants with all the vital nutrition they require, allowing them to reach their full genetic potential. These ionic minerals also optimize your plants’ ability to resist most diseases and pests. Similar to you, once they have all the essential nutrients they need, their immune system is better able to function.
How Conventional Mineral Supplementation Worsens Soil Health
The traditional form of mineral supplementation is called NPK (nitrogen, phosphorous, and potassium). Now we’re close to depleting our commercial phosphorous sources however, and many farming areas face the problem of having dangerously elevated levels of nitrogen in their drinking water due to agricultural runoff. Phosphorus is important because your DNA is built with phosphorous. Phosphorus is also needed for energy transfer in your body through ATP. But the NPK used in modern agriculture is nowhere near an ideal replacement.
Heavy fertilizer use has severely altered and damaged the subsoil chemistry. When you add too much nitrogen, you end up binding up the calcium, which leads to a thinning in the plant’s cell wall. It also alters the biological diversity in the soil, so you end up with rot instead of decomposition, which attracts bugs. To combat bugs, chemical pesticides are applied.
But these chemicals do more than kill bugs; they also kill beneficial soil bacteria and sterilize the soil. This is the vicious circle commercial agriculture is in right now. Pest problems are an outgrowth of unbalanced subsoil chemistry. When the soil is healthy, the mycorrhiza (soil fungi) provides a natural antibiotic effect that prevents bacteria and pathogens from invading the plants.
When the calcium balance is correct, plant cells are healthy, and bugs aren’t interested in healthy plants. Virtually all of today’s agricultural problems are rooted in the destruction of the soil by incorrect agricultural practices. It worked in the short term, but in the long-term it’s a disaster, as mineral-defiant soils produce mineral-deficient foods, which leads to mineral-deficient people.
“‘From 1980 to 1994 you start seeing an uptick in disease rates,’ Dr. Dunning says. ‘From 1994 to 2011, they went up exponentially. You see a 4,000 percent increase in asthma, which is a magnesium deficiency, which means it’s not in the food. There’s a 450 percent increase in heart problems, which are deficiencies in magnesium, copper, iodine, potassium, and all the things that are necessary for heart health. Those have been mined out of the ground; they’re not in the food.
We have a really broken food supply. Without fixing that, we can’t fix the health in this country. It’s not that we need more health care. Healthcare isn’t healthcare at all, but disease care that only manages the suffering. We need more health... We’ve seen that when you feed people the right food, they get well.
When you feed soil the right minerals and nutrients, the soil gets well... One of the best things you can possibly do is grow your own food, and the best food you can grow is the food that you grow with mineralized soil. Now, we have really great minerals to do that with, so you can grow your microorganisms. It’s really the heart [of the matter], you know.’”
Minerals Optimize Plants’ Genetic Potential
Plants have a maximum genetic potential. They can only achieve that potential provided they receive all the nutrients they need. They need far more that nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium (NPK). There are over 60 minerals that they require to optimize their genetic potential. If they fail to get even a few of them they will fall far short of providing you with the highest nutrient density possible.
You can see that in a number of things – their size, their color, their production, and their taste. “We had a garlic farmer up in New York say, “I went from 160 pounds to 250 pounds of garlic in the same amount of space from just mineralizing,” Dr. Dunning says. The problem is today virtually no plants achieve their full potential due to multiple mineral deficiencies in the soil.
An almost identical scenario occurs in the human body. Minerals excite DNA. According to geneticist Dr. Richard Olree, there seems to be an association with specific minerals and specific code sequence locations along the codons that open up an enzyme’s sequence at a specific point to actually read an enzyme. If he’s correct, this means that if you’re deficient in specific minerals, the code remains dormant. The code needs an activator — the mineral — in order to be initiated.
As noted by Dr. Dunning:
“We also see the same thing with vitamins. B6 is necessary to synthesize 10 to 20 amino acids. If you need 20 to make the 40,000 protein sequences that your genome can make and you’re missing 10 of the component parts, you’re going to be deficient. The minerals are extremely important.
The minerals that plants create from our food are ionic minerals. You look at the center of a chlorophyll molecule, it’s an ion of magnesium. When you digest that, it becomes available in the pathway. Magnesium is usually found in three different states in the body. It’s either ionic, complex, or protein complex. The magnesium can move in all the different ways the body needs it when it’s supplied by the plant correctly.”
Here’s another important point to consider: we don’t just eat food for the minerals they provide; we eat food for the nutrients created by the minerals in the plant for the healthy reproduction of that plant. This includes antioxidants, phytochemicals, anthocyanidins, phenols, and polyphenols. We cannot get these nutrients by eating minerals alone. We can only get them from eating foods grown in mineral-rich soils.
Ionic Minerals Can Help You Optimize Your Garden
I firmly believe that growing your own food is one way to radically improve your diet. During World War I and II people grew Victory Gardens, and at one point the majority of the produce grown in the US came from these backyard gardens. We can do that again. It’s a way to ensure not only food security but also food safety, provided you adhere to organic principles.
Growing your own food really isn’t difficult, although depending on what kind of soil you’re starting with, it may take some time. First you need to create some good topsoil, add the minerals and pure water, remember to add a soil armor like wood chips or mulch, and you’re well on your way. Acres USA is another great resource where you can find a lot of information about the minerals needed for optimal soil health.
I’ve used Dr. Dunning’s mineral products in my own garden with phenomenal results. I really believe his ionic ocean minerals are the best minerals out there, which is why I’m pleased to now be able to offer them through my online store. Within weeks, and sometimes even days, you’ll see a dramatic change in the growth of your plants.