China Connection

TB Fanatic

live Agencies Information Services


Blue metal crusher dust is left over at quarries when they are crushing blue metal (volcanic basalt) rock to be used on bitumen roads. The road constructors buy all of the suitably sized gravel. The 'dust', which contains about 80% dust and 20% fine grit up to 4mm in size, is sold for use in gardens, landscaping, lawns, drive-ways and house slab foundations.
Olives Australia has done a number of substantial trials on the use of blue metal crusher dust for olive tree growth and health. All trials have resulted very positively in favour of adding blue metal crusher dust to the orchard site prior to planting.
Advantages -
Contains excellent minerals which are not water soluble and therefore are not leached out and wasted, but are naturally available to the tree roots as required.
2. Assists in the opening up and aerating of the soil for increased and easier root growth and therefore increased foliage growth.
3. Increases rate of tree growth leading to heavier crops on the increased foliage.
4. Deep ripping the dust into the ground prior to planting ensures that it is distributed through the areas where the roots will use it in years to come. (Adding the crusher dust to the ground surface of planted orchards may assist tree growth, but is not nearly as effective as deep ripping it in prior to planting).
5. We understand that crusher dust will also reduce the waterlogging ability of the soil. This is not yet proven but some growers believe this to be so. Extra drainage is important in an olive orchard.
6. The high pH of crusher dust (Approx. 9.0) helps to raise the pH of the soil. As olives grow best in soil with a pH of between 7.0 and 8.0 this is also helpful.
7. It is much less expensive than other rock based mineral supplements on the market. In fact, some products consist of 50% to 90% blue metal crusher dust and yet they cost up to 15 times as much!
Method of Use - Prior to deep ripping, spread half to one builder's wheelbarrow full of blue metal rock crusher dust at each tree site. (One level barrow per tree = 12 trees per cubic metre. One half barrow = 24 trees). Spread this over a 3m X 3m (10ft x 10ft) area. This will then be deep ripped into the soil along with the rotted manure and lime if necessary. For further steps in land preparation see OLIFAX - 3.

Mineral Analysis - Analysed by Incitec Ltd, PO Box 140, Morningside QLD, 4170.
pH 9.1 / Magnesium mg/L 59.0
Conductivity dS/m 0.12 / Sodium mg/L 22.0
Chloride mg/L 2.0 / Calcium/Magnesium Ratio 2.9
Nitrate Nitrogen mg/L 11.0 / Potassium/Magnesium Ratio 0.20
Ammonium Nitrogen mg/L 1.0 / Iron mg/L 14.0
Total Nitrogen mg/L 12.0 / Copper mg/L 0.44
Sulfur mg/L 3.0 / Manganese mg/L 6.0
Phosphorus mg/L 0.0 / Zinc mg/L 0.0
Potassium mg/L 12.0 / Boron mg/L 0.04
Calcium mg/L 172.0 / Aluminium mg/L 1.0
Dry Weight - Approximately 1.5 tonnes/cubic metre.​

As a Mulch - An excerpt on mulching from "The Land" newspaper (12/10/95) gives another interesting perspective on crusher dust. It reads as follows,
"I know a garden that was mulched 12 years ago with blue metal dust left over from some road bitumen (no-one believes this story) and hasn't been watered since. This garden had subsoil moisture even in the middle of the 1980's drought, and everything has grown vigorously."
This water holding occurs when the crusher dust is used as a thick mulch layer on the surface. (We have not seen trials where blue metal is used as a mulch in commercial olive orchards). If the crusher dust is deep ripped into the soil it helps to aerate the soil, thereby allowing easier root movement and greater foliage growth. No studies are currently available on the effects of deep ripped crusher dust on the soil's water holding ability.
Source - Look up "Quarries" in your local Yellow Pages. If they cannot help you, then the Main Roads Department or local council should be able to give you the name of a Quarry to contact. Remember, the only dust we are referring to in this olifax is Volcanic Basalt dust - not any old rock dust that may be superfluous to the quarries needs.

China Connection

TB Fanatic
Where Can I Get Rock Dust?

Rock Dust is produced locally from volcanic rock deposits found nearby. We have access to Basalt Rock right in our own backyard! 5 minutes away from us, across the highway, in Gelorup, ( Bunbury ) there is a Quarry that mines this Basalt rock. They use it to produce the blue metal, gravelly stuff of varying aggregates for road construction to use loose for your driveway, or hot-mixed into a highway. Rock dust is actually a by-product of this, called blue metal fines.

basalt rocks in Bunbury - rock dustIncidentally, this rock dust is from ancient lava flow that formed around 130 million years ago when Australia was separating from India and Antarctica. Pictured here are basalt rocks at Bunbury’s Back Beach.This area used to be the site of a basalt quarry from 1890 – 1951 with gravel used for road construction.

We keep a pile of Rock Dust to sell by the scoop – bring your ute or trailer – you don’t need much – and it’s pretty cheap – $35 will get you a tractor scoop which goes a long way. (cheaper than sand!) or come and grab a bag and shovel and fill yourself – grab some clay and compost as well.

We also have an awesome product Soil Saviour

avail for you to add to your sandy soil to create a beautiful fertile soil – you can grow just about anything in this mix. It contains Rockdust, compost with biochar, clay, and zeolite. This is sold by the bag here at the nursery.

basalt rock dust

It’s basically the rock dust, with other added essentials that your plants will love – It’s got some added ingredients that help to break it down so that it is readily available for plant uptake – A Great product. It’s easy to apply by the handful – with a little going a long way.

Our Soil Conditioner is also available by the tractor scoop or by the bag. We sell it for $45 per tractor scoop which is soil organics plus BioChar. Clay and rock dust mixture also avail in tractor scoops for $55 for a 1 mixed scoop. Or $45 per scoop when getting 2 scoops . Bring your ute or trailer.


China Connection

TB Fanatic

Hand broadcasting of Rock Minerals
Re- Mineralise your Garden

Getting vital nutrients back into our soil.
We know that “traditionally grown” fruits and vegetables we see in supermarkets are both lacking in vitamins and minerals and have added chemicals from fertilisers and pesticides. These toxic additions have fuelled the demand for organic produce but that has not completely address the lack of nutrients.

Going back in time, our soil was rich with minerals, which found their way into our foods in healthy doses. Mineralised soil grew healthier crops providing the vitamins and minerals we now need to take as supplements. Plus, hardier plants were capable of repelling insects and other pests that are now a constant and costly threat to growers.


Chemical spraying - please note gloves, protective clothing and face mask.

Powdery mildew. Hardier plants repel insects, pests & disease

Over the years (and accelerated with the advent of modern industrialised farming), soil all over the planet has become depleted of minerals, resulting in crops and forests that struggle to perform their parts in our ecology—either providing nutrition or, in the case of trees, putting vital oxygen back into our atmosphere.
It’s a serious problem. A recent report based on U.S. agricultural records has found that the nutrient content of fruits and vegetables has been dropping since these records were first taken in the early 1960s—just over 40 years ago. E.g. you would need to be eating five apples today just to get the same nutrients you would have found in one apple in 1965.

What do we do about it?
The answer to this problem is amazingly simple. It’s called Remineralisation.
“Remineralisation is important because we are missing the minerals and trace elements in our food that should be there,” says Joanna Campe, president of a non-profit organization called Remineralize the Earth. “We can address this by returning minerals to the soil just as the earth does. The natural formation of soil occurs through the recycling of organic matter, the crushing of rocks onto the earth’s soil mantle by glaciers, and volcanic eruptions that add minerals to the soil. We can add these minerals back ourselves and create fertile soils.”

"We can address this by returning minerals to the soil just as the earth does".
Remineralized soils can provide two to four times the yield of current unhealthy soils, and greatly increase the health of plant biomass—a well-validated fact that even amazed a group of Missouri high-school students who, in conducting experiments with Remineralisation, watched pecan plants germinate 7–9 days earlier and grow consistently faster than non-remineralized plants.
Remineralisation is also fundamental in solving global warming. “When forests are unhealthy and dying off, they release carbon dioxide into the atmosphere,” Campe says. “When they’re healthy, they store carbon.” And Remineralisation’s effects are already being felt in this area. Highly successful Remineralisation on trees has been done by Dr. Lee Klinger, an independent northern California scientist. Over the last few years his methods have been used on more than 5,000 Californian oak trees afflicted with malnutrition and other disease conditions, only a handful did not responding with a flush of healthy canopy growth (
Additionally, there are early-stage studies indicating that spreading rock dust can help bind up atmospheric carbon in the soil and counteract global warming

A Simple Solution

Re-Mineralisation is a straightforward procedure. Simply apply a specific fine rock dust to a field, garden, forest, or even a planter. This type of dust creates a broad spectrum of minerals in the soil in a natural balance.
Re-Mineralisation is also far less expensive and labour-intensive than traditional fertilizing and pest control. 2 Kg of Rock Dust costs only, $45.00 inc P&H, and it will cover 40 Sq Mts PLUS it only needs to be applied every 3 years, depending on the application. Compare this to chemical fertilizers, which cost a lot more and need to be applied at least once each season.

An Organic Farmer's Perspective
How effective can Remineralisation be? Just ask Dan Kittredge, who is also an organic farmer. Prior to remineralising his farm, he had weaker crops and a horrendous insect problem. “I put in two greenhouses a year and a half ago and planted Asian greens in them. Last spring, all the plants were inundated with tiny holes made by insects. Unless you are extremely diligent, it happens to all of a particular family of crops around here, including broccoli, cauliflower and cabbage.”
This year, however, he had remineralised. “Under the exact same growing conditions and locations, with the exception of adding rock dust last year, the crops are now growing virtually insect free,” he reports.
The crops themselves are extraordinary. “They have this incredible sheen,” Kittredge says. “The flavour is far, far better, and they last longer. We were harvesting broccoli all the way into December, which is pretty amazing, especially for Massachusetts.”

Crusher Dust V's Rock Dust

Vesicular Basalt
The definition of basalt rock is a silica rich extrusive igneous rock formed from the rapid cooling of magnesium-rich and iron-rich lava [2] exposed at or very near the surface of a planet or moon. More than 90% of all volcanic rock on Earth is basalt. [3] Basalt lava has a low viscosity, due to its low silica content, resulting in rapid lava flows that can spread over great areas before cooling and solidification. Flood basalt describes the formation in a series of lava basalt flows.
Crusher dust can be various rock types which may or may not including basalt. The basalt which is found in crushed dust is most commonly known as blue metal, bluestone and road base and while it is basalt it is not the dense non-vesicular basalt. meaning it isn't porous like volcanic rock. Volcanic rock basalt is created by cooling more quickly than Blue Stone. It is this extra rapid cooling which makes it what is termed a vesicular basalt, meaning it breaks down faster and holds water better so is more active than the denser blue metal road base. Basalt is recognised as the most fertile volcanic parent rock being fine grained because the lava cooled fast and it is preferred because of it high composition rates of magnesium and iron and silica. Here in Victoria the volcanic plains of Werribee are recognised as excellent market garden soils.


Basalt- Bluestone
When bluestone is crushed the particle size of the dust comes in a variety of sizes. This particle size is draw back for crusher dust. In understanding how soils are made they start out as rock, which is then ground or broken down by various means including soil microbes. The actual particle size recommended is 90% passing through a minus #200-mesh screen. Yet it is acknowledged you may only get 20% to pass through such a fine grade mesh. With crusher dusts come in varying particle size some may be able to be used immediately, however, most will still have to be worked upon and broken down and tis may account for why there are varying reports of effectiveness with the product.
Can you apply more to counteract this.?
You can, but, two problems arise. 1) the pH of crusher dust is generally accepted to be pH9. Best pH for the veg garden is pH6-7. When you add this much alkalinity to your soils you affect you soil microbiome akin to brain freeze. 2) Some of what your adding is going to be immediately available and make your soil more abundant in some minerals, yippee. However, you have added 2X’s or 3 X’s the amount recommended and not added any of the other minerals. All this maybe counteractive also. There are reports out there of people applying crusher dust and having no notable results. So in essence you have created another imbalance of your soils. Remember the recommended addition of pulverised rock dust is 50gram/ 1sq.m. Applied now then in 2 years and repeated at year 5. For crusher dust it is 750 grams/1sq.m. and I can not find any exact reapplication rate for it but it is implied it is done on a regular basis.
For the average sized vegetable garden plot of 10sq.m/person and a house hold of 2.5, average household size Australian figures, 25sq.m. A quick search of crusher dust came up with $50/ cubic metre you're getting a huge amount., but it is going to take more than a few years to get rid of it. You could share with family and friends. Using Volcanic Rock dust you will use 1.25 kg first application, repeated 2-3 years later then every 5 years. View:


China Connection

TB Fanatic

By Alanna Moore
From the June 2005 issue of Acres U.S.A. magazine
Rock dust is a byproduct of the quarrying industry and results from rock crushing. In the industry it is known as blue metal, cracker or crusher dust.

Landscapers use rock dust for filling holes, bedding paving stones and mixing with cement. More recently its applications have broadened to other areas and its true importance is becoming apparent.
Over 100 years ago Julius Hensel wrote a book called Bread from Stones, which explained how crushed rock could improve soil fertility. His cause was taken up some nine decades later in the early 1980s by the late John Hamaker and Don Weaver. They asserted that impending climate change could be ameliorated by massive-scale soil remineralization combined with reforestation to provide a vegetative carbon dioxide sink. Their book, Survival of Civilization, was a landmark, while their warnings of climate instability have essentially come true.
Demineralization occurs rapidly on intensively farmed and tropical soils. Rock dust can reverse this process, restoring life to the soil by adding a myriad of minerals to feed microorganisms and, given enough organic matter, helping to rebuild topsoil rapidly.
rocks and minerals in soil
Soil can benefit from the minerals found in rock dust.
“Only with remineralization,” said John Hamaker “can the soil’s ecosystem obtain the nutrients they need to reproduce, lay down their bodies, and make the stable colloidal humus vital for plants, animals and humans to thrive on, as they once did before we demineralized the Earth.”
Hamaker, whose book did more to promote soil remineralization than any other single initiative, died in July 1994. He had previously been accidentally sprayed with the toxic herbicide 2,4-D by a roadside spraying operation and suffered debilitating illness from that time on.
In his last year of life he wrote to Barry Oldfield, president of the Western Australian Men of the Trees group, advocating the use of moraine gravels (from glaciers, absent in Australia) and urging the recognition that a healthy soil breeds bacteria which can utilize all the atmospheric gases, including nitrogen and carbon dioxide, which then helps to stabilize climate change.
A newsletter devoted to the benefits of rock dust was launched in 1986 in the United States, and in 1994 was upgraded into a quarterly magazine. Remineralize the Earth was edited by Joanna Campe. Although the magazine has ceased publication, partly because of the perception that this subject has finally become much more accepted by the mainstream, many U.S. universities and some government agriculture departments are now doing their own research and taking action. Remineralize the Earth (RTE) continues its important work as an active non-profit rock dust advocate.
In the 1980s Phil Callahan brought our attention to the importance of paramagnetism to plant growth and showed how volcanic rock dusts can supply this energy to soils. Many people regard his claims as farfetched, but such is the fate of all new ideas.
In Australia the benefits of rock dust have been scientifically documented since 1997 by the Australian construction company Boral, which owns over 200 quarries.
The Boral scientists have taken a holistic approach, studying the effects of applying rock dusts to potting mix alone, and in combination with “sweetpit” (a limestone-based, diamagnetic soil preparation) and artificial fertilizers in varying amounts. The best impact on plant growth was when all three were applied together.
Trials have shown that rock dust improves soil pH, water retention capacity, microbial activity, root-to-shoot ratio, plant health generally, seed germination rates, and the humus complex, while it increases plant height and weight and reduces plant mortality. Rock dust makes a good replacement for sand in growing media, they found. Boral is now recognized as a world leader in scientific research into rock dusts as soil improvers.
During Boral’s many trials there was inexplicable lush growth of control plants. These were growing in close proximity to the rock dust-treated plants.
It became apparent to researchers that a purely paramagnetic effect was at work here. It was verified by pot trials by the Men of the Trees group (MOTT) in Western Australia. One MOTT trial involved burying little plastic bags of rock dust in the plant pot. Amazingly, this was enough to enhance plant growth, despite no physical contact between plant roots and rock dust.
If soil hasn’t the right nutrient mix to match the crop, then using any old rock dust may not help, and could even prove toxic to some degree. While basalt rock dust is a major source of trace elements, it lacks the essential macronutrients nitrogen, phosphorus and, to a lesser extent, potassium.
Boral suggests blending different types of rock dust, such as granites and river gravel, plus added minerals, to make up for any deficiency. While commercial enterprises do various rock dust mixes to broaden the spectrum of minerals, this still may not suit your soil’s individual requirements.
High iron levels can be a problem in some soils (which are often a red color), so a poorly selected basalt rock dust or lava scoria might add excess iron if not applied in careful measure. Iron is needed for photosynthesis, but too much can combine with aluminum to lock up phosphate and trace elements in acidic soil types. Ten to 50 parts per million of iron in fertile soils is considered sufficient.
Use of rock dusts has been shown to:
  • Increase yields;
  • Lower mortality;
  • Deter pests;
  • Provide fungal protection;
  • Suppress weeds;
  • Improve crop quality and flavor; and
  • Increase brix.
Rock dust is also a great additive to acidic soils, as it can help increase soil pH, thus reducing acidity. Acidity in soils, whether natural or induced by chemical farming, tends to lock away nutrients such as calcium and phosphates from plants. Superphosphate is very acidifying, with triple-superphosphate the worse type and mono-super the least bad form. (It’s better still to supply slow-release phosphate in the form of untreated rock phosphate that has been composted.)
Aluminum is also released when soils are acid and if this gets into our systems, free-radical damage can occur in our tissues. Aluminum toxicity is also linked to repetitive strain injury and Alzheimer’s disease, which are far more prevalent since aluminum cooking pans became popular after the war.
Most people apply lime to increase soil pH, but this can cause problems in itself. Student of Rudolf Steiner and biodynamics researcher Ehrenfried Pfeiffer warned that the use of lime can “burn out” the humus complex as it overstimulates soil and plant processes.
This was seen in Austrian trials which compared rock dust and lime added to soil and the subsequent changes in soil pH over 87 days. Within 24 hours the soil that had been limed had risen from a low pH 4 to an optimum of pH 7. Such a huge increase in the ion count is very stressful to plants. The pH scale is logarithmic, going from 1 to 14, the scale being actually 10 to 1014. Such a sharp pH rise meant an increased ion count from 100,000 to 100,000,000 ions! Plants can become sick with the shock of this rate of change.
After the 87 days the rock dusted soil also ended up with a pH of 7, but it was a very gradual rise spread over the time, which did not incur any plant stress at all. These are only a few of the many documented benefits of rock dust in agriculture.
At most quarries I’ve visited I have been allowed to fill a few bags with rock dust free of charge — enough for a household vegetable garden. If you buy tonnages, you might pay around $15 per ton — still inexpensive. The big cost is in transportation. Get together with friends and neighbors and share a truckload for best economy.
Optimum application rates recommended by Boral research are 5 to 10 tons per hectare (2 to 4 tons to the acre).
Above the maximum rate there is a leveling off of effects, so it’s not worth overdoing it. Because the cost of transport and spreading of rock dust on acreage is not cheap, it is recommended to put more out at less frequent intervals to reduce such costs. That is, instead of spreading 2 to 4 tons per acre every two or three years, it is more economical to spread 4 tons per acre every five or so years. However, smaller amounts, even as little as a 1 to 2 tons/ha (1/2 to 1 ton to the acre) will bring good results, when applied more often.
Austrian farmers have found it beneficial to spread rock dust around the time of cutting the cover crop. They observe that the more aerobic environment created on the soil surface helps the green manure crop to rot down more easily.
If seeking only the paramagnetic values of rock to impart to soil, you can add it in chip form for a one-off application. Chips are cheaper to produce and will not erode away like the finer dust. By choosing material with higher paramagnetic values you can reduce quantities needed, making substantial savings on expensive transportation. If you obtain the usual finest screenings of 5 mm (one-quarter inch) dust you will have a range of particle sizes from powdery dust to small sharp pieces that give the paramagnetic antenna effect as advocated by Philip Callahan.
Warning: So much for the good news about using rock dusts — there has to be a downside! Here’s a word of warning: The fine particles are a hazard if breathed in, since siliceous dusts can be as dangerous as asbestos to the lungs. It is advisable to always wear dust masks whenever this could be a hazard. And cover your load or wet it down during transport or it may blow away!
Editor’s Note: This article was originally published in the June 2005 issue of Acres U.S.A magazine.


China Connection

TB Fanatic

How to balance your soil’s pH
So you’ve tested your soil in six places and you’ve found out that it’s generally a pH of… whatever it is.

Here’s some tips on how you can balance your soil…

If the soil is too acidic: less than 7 = low pH (applies to most Australian soils):
  • Add green manure crops into your rotation with more frequency.
  • Add organic matter in the form of a well balanced, pH neutral compost… adding humus is the best way of changing pH… let the biology do the work!!
  • Add agricultural lime (not builders lime!). As a rule of thumb, carefully apply 100g to each meter squared. NOTE lime can only be accurately applied if a total mineral test is performed. It will take a while to increase the pH this way – you should see a change in the pH within 6 months. Be careful not to over apply.
  • Add Dolomite – BUT it contains Magnesium, which if it is already present in large quantities, could block other minerals. Again, a total mineral test is a good idea before doing this.
If soil is too alkaline: greater than 7 = high pH:
  • This soil will be harder to rebalance
  • Add organic matter such as pine needles or decomposed tree leaves.
  • Add green manure crops into your rotation with more frequency
  • Add organic matter in the form of a well balanced, pH neutral compost… adding humus is the best way of changing pH… let the biology do the work!!
  • In an extreme situation you could use powdered sulphur. Be very careful with this as sulphur is anti microbial… and will kill off your biology if applied regularly. Apply one handful per square metre, once a year. It works very slowly and you won’t notice a change in your pH for about 6 months.
There’s other, more in-depth roads you can go down with mineral testing for your soil (we recommend Swep Laboratories if you’re going this road).

But as you can hopefully see from the info above, balancing your soil’s pH is a great first step to healthy veggies.

In short, balancing your soil’s pH is a short-cut to growing healthy food.

Once you’re on your way with good soil pH, it’s much easier to treat mineral deficiencies if they crop up in your plants.

Because now, you’ve created a soil environment where the plants can suck up the goodness they need, once you give it to them.

Michael Hewins and Milkwood Farm veggies
Michael Hewins and Milkwood Farm veggies
Lastly, if you live nearish to Sydney NSW, join us for a Serious Backyard Veggies course with Michael Hewins sometime and learn more about making great soil.

Michael’s an amazing organic market gardener who’s passionate about de-mystifying the process of growing nutrient-dense veggies, starting with your garden’s soil.