How to Improve Soil Health and Boost Yield With Ocean Minerals

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Story at-a-glance -

  • Conventional, chemical-heavy farming practices deplete the soil of minerals, thereby decimating soil microorganisms that are critical for optimal plant growth, yield and natural pest control
  • To receive the same amount of iron you used to get from one apple in 1950, by 1998 you had to eat 26 apples; today you have to eat 36
  • Ionic mineral extractions from ocean water can be used to very effectively remineralize and regenerate damaged soils, thereby increasing the nutrition of foods grown in it

By Dr. Mercola

Wouldn't it be nice if there were a simple supplement you could use to radically improve the quality and health of the plants you're growing in your garden, while simultaneously increasing their nutrient density?

The good news is there is! Science researcher August Dunning, chief science officer and co-owner of Eco Organics, has developed a really fantastic product called Ionic Ocean Minerals.

Dunning also works as a visiting associate professor at California Institute of Technology (Caltech), where he received his training in chemistry and physics.

His previous work history includes working for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) on the International Space Station program as system engineer. After that, he studied elemental particle physics and molecular physics at the University of Chicago, before ultimately starting Eco Organics.

I've been using his Ionic Ocean Minerals in my own garden for a few years now, and I've been spectacularly impressed with the ability of these minerals — which are typically applied as a foliar spray once a week — to radically improve the health and quality of my plants.

Ocean Minerals Help Grow Your Soil

The ocean contains nearly all of the ionic minerals of the periodic table of elements. Dunning developed a process to extract these minerals from seawater without getting any of the salt.

Their minerals are in a highly absorbable ionic form and the separation process removes nearly all the salt from the ocean water. Salt buildup in the soil will kill live organisms and is not healthy for the plants, so you definitely do not want any salt in the mixture.

"The idea here was to take the work of Maynard Murray, who was a Navy doctor and scientist and who was putting ocean salts on the earth, but diluting it to prevent the salt problem, to get great yield.

We figured how to get the salt out of it, so we can concentrate the minerals," Dunning explains. "What we found is that this particular group of elements has a very profound effect on the microorganism health underneath the soil.

If you look at the ingredient list on our product, you'll see micrograms (mcg) of [these minerals], so it can't be used as a huge soil ingredient for the growth of the plants; it has to be doing something else.

We are now confident, based on our studies and based on our research, that what we're doing is we're increasing the life of the soil itself, much like Deborah Koons-Garcia is talking about in 'Symphony of the Soil,' where you're just growing the soil.

That's the interface between geology and biology. By doing this, it allows the microorganisms to be [like] hundreds of trillions of little workers providing the microelements, ionic microelements off the rock surfaces."

Healthy Soil Makes for Healthy Food

If the soil is healthy, the plants grown in it will be healthy too. The increased nutrient content may even make the food more medicinally useful.

"I can tell you firsthand the difference," he says. "[The difference] between my trip to Vietnam and my trip to Nicaragua was dramatic. I came down with a light dysentery in Vietnam. It was terrible. I took charcoal … It wiped it out a little bit.

I went to Nicaragua four days after I got back from there, and in two days of eating their food and living in the environment down there, I was fixed. There's a big difference between a toxic environment and a pristine environment. I see it firsthand now."

Dunning's Ionic Ocean Minerals essentially provide the substrates required for soil organisms to grow and mature, allowing them to optimize the proper populations. We have recently come to appreciate that the biology of the soil is crucial.

It's not just about adding minerals, because there's still a large percentage of farmers and gardeners who will do soil analysis and then supplement the soil with minerals based on a kind of individualized prescription. That's certainly better than nothing, but it's not the same process that we're talking about here.

Those mineral supplements are frequently provided as salts, and if taken at too high concentration can do more harm than good by decimating soil microbes. There are a number of ionic ocean minerals on the market. I've tried a few of them and actually killed some of my citrus when using them.

While they claim to have removed all the sodium, clearly they did not. Dunning's product has never caused any problems in my garden. It has only produced beneficial results, which is why I like to promote it.

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How the Minerals Are Extracted

To extract the ocean minerals from the water, Dunning uses a process that involves vortexing that has a potent influence on the structure of the water. It also helps separate the minerals from the sodium. Dunning explains:

"We've taken the work of Viktor Schauberger, a Nazi scientist who did a lot [of work] in vortex behavioral water molecules and the fact that they create great amounts of charge. In fact, magneto-dynamic charges.

We developed a device [through which the seawater is run]. We get molecular mixing. You can actually tune it with a magnetic field to separate the different elements out.

You have positive and negative ions and cations and anions. You just basically cycle the thing until you get what you want out and reject what you don't want."

They also use an advanced solar distillery along with a dehydrator that rapidly extracts the distilled water, leaving perfectly square salt crystals of chlorine and sodium behind. In this way, the sodium and chlorine are easily separated and removed.

Dunning has performed technical and analytical chemistry tests on many other ionic mineral products, and many still contain enormous amounts of sodium, unbalanced amounts of boron and other chemical problems, caused by inefficient or flawed extraction processes.

'What we've done is we've produced something that pretty much matches what a periodic table provides for nature,' Dunning says. 'Our process is unique. Our process removes the salt. The sodium and the chlorine content is dramatically down.

The salt [is] the positive and negative ions. Some of these cations and anions actually will form what's technically called a salt. But when we talk about salt in ocean water, we're talking about sodium chloride. We take that out and that makes sure microorganisms aren't damaged by the sodium chloride.'"

Remineralizing Soil Is Critical for Healthy Plant Growth

One of the reasons Ionic Ocean Minerals is such a superior product is because it contains all the minerals in the periodic table. They're present at very low concentrations — far lower than mcg amounts in most cases. But even though they're in minute amounts, they can do a great deal of good. If any specific mineral is entirely missing, microbes may in one way or another be hindered in their function. Dunning explains:

"[The minerals] act as pseudoenzymatic substrates. In other words, when the microorganisms make these biological byproducts, these actually attach to the rocks, attach to the ions, which are then modified by the ion and then move on to another metabolic process as long as you got clay.

That's what Albrecht found out. If you got 50 percent clay in your soil, you have the cationic exchange capacity to hold onto things like calcium … Really, my whole thrust has been in rocket science and nano-propellant chemistry, and somehow that transitioned to agricultural chemistry …

We have this situation where we have a very decreased amount of calcium in the soil … But what Albrecht found was a 7:1 ratio of calcium-magnesium. You'll see this in the dirt. If your dirt is … sticking to your boots [and is] really thick, and your plants aren't growing, it's because your magnesium is too high.

Magnesium tends to gather soil together and bind it up real closely. It doesn't allow oxygen to get to the roots, and the roots need oxygen to bring up the aerobic bacteria. When you see that mud stick to your boots and you almost can't shake it off, that's magnesium-dominant decomposition — that causes formaldehyde and alcohol to be released [anaerobic fermentation], and that's what attracts the bugs."

The Importance of Calcium

In a situation such as this, you need to bring calcium back into the soil. Gypsum is an excellent choice, as many soils are also sulfur deficient, and gypsum is calcium sulfate. You could use limestone, but since it has a 1:1 ratio of calcium and magnesium, you're still not correcting the calcium balance. Once you have an appropriate calcium to magnesium balance, then adding ionic ocean minerals will allow the soil to regenerate by regrowing the microorganisms in the soil.

The ionic minerals also boost plant health by providing all the micronutrients that are missing. For example, calcium attaches to manganese and water molecules, allowing water to be brought up to the plant, and boron modifies the ability of calcium to be brought up into the plant. In essence, plant health is very dependent on having all of these ionic elements present.

"The ocean ionic elements are perfect for this, which is why the product works," Dunning says. "You got to get your soil checked and make sure you've got calcium-magnesium ratio that's measurable and modify it to that. You get these ionic elements in from the ocean. It regrows your microorganisms.

One of the things we found out is when you start taking ionic elements out of the ground as food and out of the ground as plant matter, you end up depleting the sub soil amount of ionic elements that the microorganisms need to stay alive. Everything with a DNA needs [minerals] … When you rebuild the microorganism population, they start doing all the work subsoil. In effect, we call ourselves crop farmers, but really we're soil farmers."

Remineralization Cuts Need for Pesticides

Vietnamese farmers around the Mekong Delta have been using the ionic ocean minerals for the past year and a half. As a result, they've managed to wean themselves off pesticides. This is yet another beneficial side effect of having healthy soils and plants. Once you provide the organisms in the soil with what they need, they in turn help the plant activate its natural defense mechanisms in the presence of pests.

It's very similar to the human body; when you're eating healthy, getting plenty of rest, sunshine and sleep, you're able to resist most infections. I have about a dozen mango trees on my property, and as soon as a pest starts chewing on a leaf or two, the plant seemingly "wakes up" and produces the appropriate chemicals to dissuade the pest from doing further damage.

This is really the perfect pesticide, and it's all-natural and already built into the plant's self-defense mechanisms. The reason why conventional farmers struggle with pests is because the soil is so barren the plants do not have the appropriate microbial support to activate these natural defenses.

"You've got to remember what soil is," Dunning says. "It's the same as what's going on in your gut. You and I are very big on the microbiome inside the human beings. Because those organisms — if they're healthy and happy — their balance will produce all the stuff you need to stay healthy. Your health is based on your gut.

Similarly, soil health is based on what's in the soil … By doing it correctly like this, you [nourish] these microorganisms. It's like giving them all the vitamins they need. That's the thing.

These things are alive in the soil to keep the soil alive to produce the things that plants need for their nutrients … [These microorganisms] are the workers you want. You don't want to go out there with a thousand people with shovels; you want … 10 trillion microorganisms doing the work for you, day and night. That's what's this stuff does."

Remineralization Extends Fruit Durability

As a foliar spray, the minerals are absorbed right into the leaf; into the organelles and the chloroplast, providing the nutrients the plant needs to make the phytocompounds that go into the fruit, and the nutrients necessary to keep the plant alive and generate repellant chemicals that ward off pests.

Interestingly, once you have the proper mineral balance in your soil, you also end up optimizing fruit durability. Soil, animal and food scientist Carey Reams1 discovered that if your soil minerals are correct, your food will only dehydrate; it will not rot. This really challenges the alleged "need" for processed foods filled with preservatives. It's possible that if our soils were brought back to optimal health, our fresh food may last much longer without added preservation methods. It's certainly an intriguing possibility.

Invest in Soil Analysis for Your Garden

If you have a garden, it would be a wise investment to spend $20 on a soil analysis to get a full understanding of what's going on in your soil. If your fruit rots or if you have an insect problem, you likely need to add some gypsum to raise the calcium content of your soil. You also likely need sulfur, which the gypsum will provide.

If you have a sandy soil, you would likely benefit from limestone as well, because sandy soils need magnesium. To that, you can then add gypsum to improve the calcium ratio.

"Soil is actually a matrix of all kinds of different aggregate parts and so forth. But for the most part, for the backyard gardener, most of the soil is pretty much the same if you just adjust the calcium and make sure you've got the sulfur in there. You [add] the potash and phosphates, and you've got what you need."

Adding the ionic minerals on top of that will then do most of the work for you to help you rebuild the soil.

"Nature's minerals give you everything on [the] periodic table, but most fertilizers only give you five or six micronutrient elements plus the N, P and the K. It doesn't really stack up well in nature. But when you look at our [ionic minerals], you have 62 to 65 elements compared to nature's 118 or so. You end up with a very nice replenishment of what's being taken out by weathering and plants and so forth, [and] you want to fix the problem."

Nicaragua Goes Organic

In addition to bringing it to Vietnam, Dunning has brought his Ionic Ocean Minerals to Nicaragua, as President Ortega's son, Laureano, wants to convert the entire country to organic farming.

"That's a great situation. They've given me a research center outside of Nicaragua where I can do all the plant tests on these different types of plants. They're growing these [non-GMO] Hawaiian papayas there — they're fantastic. This non-GMO organic research station is already getting some press. People are taking notice. We're going to bring microorganism growth in there. They're going to be really happy. I left them a great big container of [ionic minerals] down there," Dunning says.

Nicaragua has a high incidence of liver and kidney disease at the sugarcane farms, which is likely due to heavy pesticide exposure.

"There are only two things [that cause disease]: toxicity or deficiency. You fix these thing and [your health problem] is almost fixed," Dunning says. "The two elements needed in the two detoxification pathways in the liver are calcium and sulfur. Calcium for your glutathione and sulfur for your other activities. If those are deficient in the soil, in the food — which they are — you're going to have liver diseases occurring, which we do. That's why I'm promoting gypsum."

The Vanishing Mineral Content in Food 

Mineral-depleted soils produce mineral-depleted fruits and vegetables. Just how depleted have our soils gotten since the introduction of mechanized and chemical farming in the 1930s? Dunning's research shows that iron content in apples has gone down from 4.3 milligrams (mg) per apple in 1950 to 0.18 mg in 1998, to 0.12 mg today.

You now need to eat 36 apples to get the iron content you used to get from a single apple a mere 55 years ago. Just imagine where we'll be another decade or two from now if we don't make soil regeneration a focus of farming.

"When I did an analysis of the calcium content in vegetables, it has gone down dramatically: 25, 35 [and] 50 percent in some vegetables. Again, this is because you're changing the subsoil chemistry, which [decimates] the microorganisms. [You also get] a reduction in yield; because the organisms aren't making the minerals, the plants aren't growing well," Dunning says.

Soil Regeneration Is a Global Priority for Food Security

Modern farming methods, which are heavily mechanized and rely on synthetic chemicals, take a heavy toll on the soil and the critical microorganisms that live in it and provide nutrient transport for the plants. By altering the chemical composition of the soil, we're endangering our ability to grow food at all. Unless we change our ways, our farmlands will cease to produce. 

When too much calcium is extracted, magnesium becomes dominant, resulting in clay. It also changes the ratio of anaerobic to aerobic bacteria, which produces toxic gasses that attract pests. The good news is we already understand how to turn the situation around. Dunning is but one of many pioneers showing us how to regenerate soil and produce healthier more nutritious food. I've featured many others in this newsletter in the past, and will continue to do so in the future.

Because I am passionate about regenerative agriculture and these ionic ocean minerals work so well, we actually carry them in our store. Acres USA is another great resource where you can find a lot of information about the minerals needed for optimal soil health.

+ Sources and References