Water Droplet

After experiencing months of devastating drought, farmers across the West are finally getting the rain they so desperately need. Yet despite the recent and widespread rainfall, scientists expect the parched conditions to continue at least into next winter in many areas—including most of the State of California. Now more than ever, water retention is critical….

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Volcanic basalt

Researchers from Oregon State University (OSU), working with a team from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the U.S. Coast Guard, have been surprised by recent research that proves that there is a cacophony of sound coming from more than 36,000 feet below the surface of the ocean. (Read “Mariana Trench: Seven Miles Deep,…

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Rock Dust & Biochar

We’ve written previously about the positive benefits of using volcanic basalt to speed the composting process. (See “Charge up your compost pile with nutrient-rich volcanic rock dust” and “Add rock dust to compost to feed your plants a balanced diet.”) Rock dust serves as food for the millions of beneficial microorganisms that feed on each…

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Plant Roots

Just 25-cents when it was published, the May 1948 issue of Popular Mechanics is filled with advertisements and articles from a very different era. (You can view an online copy of the magazine here.) One article, titled “Hungry Plants Guide the Ore Prospector (pp. 130-133),” begins like this: “Flowers make a tireless search for valuable…

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Cover Crop

Known as nature’s fertilizer, legumes like peas, beans and clovers have long been used as natural nitrogen fixers.  Also referred to as ‘green manure,’ legumes are typically planted as rotational crops to help feed the soil organically. At the most basic biological level, legumes attract soil-dwelling bacteria called rhizobia to their roots and ‘invite’ them inside…

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Frozen Soil

The ground is cold and covered in white. It looks like it’s hibernating—but don’t be fooled! Healthy soil teems with life year-round. In fact, billions of living and breathing microorganisms are hard at work under the ice and snow. Bacteria, fungi, algae, nematodes and anthropods aren’t visible to the naked eye, but they all contribute…

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Oregon Christmas Tree Farm

Image used with permission by Real Christmas Trees Direct. It’s mid-December, but the Christmas season has been well underway for several weeks already here in Oregon. With about 530 licensed growers, our state is the #1 producer of Christmas trees with tree farmers expecting to harvest and sell just over 7 million trees in 2015….

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Central Oregon Basalt Products recently donated several hundred pounds of its all-natural Cascade Minerals Remineralizing Soil Booster to a minimum security facility operated by Oregon’s Department of Corrections. Inmates who participated in the facility’s Master Gardener Program conducted a greenhouse study using common houseplants and a variety of soil combinations to grow indoor botanicals. The…

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It’s no surprise that some of the richest, most fertile soil on the planet can be found near active volcanoes. Volcanic deposits release essential minerals and nutrients that are essential to plant growth and can result in increased agricultural yields. This helps explain why people throughout civilization have been willing to settle near active and…

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It’s easy to become overwhelmed by looking at a newspaper or watching a report on the state of our planet’s essential ecosystems. Soil erosion, soil depletion, diminishing soil fertility and declining crop nutrition. It’s enough to make a person want to stick his or her head into the sand—as long as drought hasn’t turned it…

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