Volcanic ash to improve Argentina's soil fertility

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Volcanic ash to improve Argentina's soil fertility

The volcanic ash that has swept across agricultural land in the Argentine provinces of Chubut, Río Negro and Neuquén could have a silver lining for soil nutrients, media agency Reuters reported.

The ash sent out by Chile's Puyehue volcano covered five million hectares with a depth of up to 30cm (1ft) affecting the region's vibrant sheep and fruit farms, but those farmers could benefit from the disaster in 10 years time, the story reported.

"This, over the long term, will help to rejuvenate the soil. The soils of the Andean region are of volcanic origin, extremely fertile, and their fertility improves with every one of these renovations," National Council of Scientific and Technical Studies (CONICET) researcher Maria Julia Mazzarino was quoted as saying.

Mazzarino's point was re-inforced by her colleague Iván Petrinovic in Cordoba.

"When you have very compacted soil, very hard, heavy clay, what is done in intensive farming in general is to add volcanic material; it lightens the soil, the air, and makes it a bit more permeable," Petrinovic was quoted as saying.

National Institute of Agricultural Technology engineer Jose Luis Zubizarreta told Reuters the ash would also improve water retention and soil structure.

Related story: Agricultural emergency declared in Argentine Patagonia

Photo: El Nacional


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