Climate-friendly farming: Greenland’s melting glaciers offer an answer

Minik Rosing, Professor at University of Copenhagen, poses for a picture at a site with glacial mud close to Nuuk, Greenland, September 10, 2021. REUTERS/Hannibal Hanschke

On a shore near Greenland’s capital Nuuk, a local scientist points to a paradox emerging as the island’s glaciers retreat: one of the most alarming consequences of global warming could deliver a way to limit its effects.

“It’s a kind of wonder material,” says Minik Rosing, a native Greenlander, referring to the ultra-fine silt deposited as the glaciers melt.

Known as glacial rock flour, the silt is crushed to nano-particles by the weight of the retreating ice sheet, which deposits roughly one billion tonnes of it on the world’s largest island per year.

Professor Minik Rosing and his team at the University of Copenhagen have established the nutrient-rich mud boosts agricultural output when applied to farmland and absorbs carbon dioxide from the air in the process.

Scientists at multinational brewer Carlsberg (CARLb.CO) are also investigating and have found that adding 25 tonnes of glacial rock flour per hectare increased crop yield on barley fields in Denmark by 30%.

Similarly, researchers from the University of Ghana, managed to increase maize yields by 30% using glacial rock flour to offset the impact of rain and heat on poor farmland.

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