Bread From Stones -by Dr. Julius Hensel. (Agricultural Chemist)

The people are sick. When they have low iron, they develop the desire to eat this clay, plaster, chalk, or uncooked meat. They’ll eat eggshells, pull the bark off trees. It’s even written in the medical literature that they will eat building materials.

My father's sheep are behaving strangely this year. First of all, they don't want to graze the grass on their meadow. My father has to cut the grass every day for them from the other parts of the land. Perhaps Hensel was right, perhaps the meadow became too acidic from the manure that sheep produced over the years, and now sheep don't like it anymore.

But another thing is even more interesting. The sheep are eating clay bricks like crazy. They are old homemade bricks, so they are much softer than industrial bricks, so they can be chewed by sheep. They ate a huge pile of it and keep eating it. I know that sheep like to eat dirt from time to time, but I have never seen them eating clay, and in this quantity. Perhaps by not eating enough fresh grass they now have a lack of minerals in their bodies and are finding them in clay.

Now, Hensel never liked clay, to him clay was a soil devoid of minerals. It is something that is left when the plants eat all the minerals from the soil. Maybe some of them have some type of minerals in abundance, but the stones should have much more minerals than clay. Of course, clay is much easier to eat than stones. But stones can be eaten too, if they are dissolved in the river and the animals drink water from the river, as it was practise in the past. But today, animals drink pipe water, so they probably have a lack of minerals.

Two days ago I was at a village festival, and I had the opportunity to observe many people. Some of the villagers had huge bones, their hands were enormous compared to the modern generations. Their muscles are normally developed, nothing like on bodybuilders, but their bones are much bigger. And nobody is paying attention to that and trying to find the answer to their unusual physique. How did they develop such big bones? Bodybuilders are also working out very hard, but they don't develop such big bones.

When it comes to the clay, clay is good for bacteria, bacteria love clay and clay allows them to better attach to our intestines. So clay is healthy but for different reason than stones.

Administration of probiotics to regulate the immune system is a potential anti-tumor strategy. However, oral administration of probiotics is ineffective because of the poor inhabitation of exogenous bacteria in host intestines. Here we report that smectite, a type of mineral clay and established anti-diarrhea drug, promotes expansion of probiotics (especially Lactobacillus) in the murine gut and subsequently elicits anti-tumor immune responses. The ion-exchangeable microstructure of smectite preferentially promotes lactic acid bacteria (LABs) to form biofilms on smectite in vitro and in vivo. In mouse models, smectite laden with LAB biofilms (Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium) inhibits tumor growth (when used alone) and enhances the efficacy of chemotherapy or immunotherapy (when used in combination with either of them) by activating dendritic cells (DCs) via Toll-like receptor 2 (TLR2) signaling. Our findings suggest oral administration of smectite as a promising strategy to enrich probiotics in vivo for cancer immunotherapy.

Mineral chelators are also used for plant fertilization:

Understanding and Applying Chelated Fertilizers Effectively Based on Soil pH

Plant nutrients are one of the environmental factors essential for crop growth and development. Nutrient management is crucial for optimal productivity in commercial crop production. Those nutrients in concentrations of = 100 parts per million (ppm) in plant tissues are described as micronutrients and include iron (Fe), zinc (Zn), manganese (Mn), copper (Cu), boron (B), chlorine (Cl), molybdenum (Mo), and nickel (Ni). Micronutrients such as Fe, Mn, Zn, and Cu are easily oxidized or precipitated in soil, and their utilization is, therefore, not efficient. Chelated fertilizers have been developed to increase micronutrient utilization efficiency. This publication provides an overview of chelated fertilizers and considerations for their use to county Extension faculty, certified crop advisers (CCAs), crop consultants, growers, and students who are interested in commercial crop production.

What is chelated fertilizer?

The word chelate is derived from the Greek word chelé, which refers to a lobster's claw. Hence, chelate refers to the pincer-like way in which a metal nutrient ion is encircled by the larger organic molecule (the claw), usually called a ligand or chelator. Table 1 lists common natural or chemical synthetic ligands (Havlin et al. 2005; Sekhon 2003). Each of the listed ligands, when combined with a micronutrient, can form a chelated fertilizer. Chelated micronutrients are protected from oxidation, precipitation, and immobilization in certain conditions because the organic molecule (the ligand) can combine and form a ring encircling the micronutrient. The pincer-like way the micronutrient is bonded to the ligand changes the micronutrient's surface property and favors the uptake efficiency of foliarly applied micronutrients.

Why is chelated fertilizer needed?

Because soil is heterogeneous and complex, traditional micronutrients are readily oxidized or precipitated. Chelation keeps a micronutrient from undesirable reactions in solution and soil. The chelated fertilizer improves the bioavailability of micronutrients such as Fe, Cu, Mn, and Zn, and in turn contributes to the productivity and profitability of commercial crop production. Chelated fertilizers have a greater potential to increase commercial yield than regular micronutrients if the crop is grown in low-micronutrient stress or soils with a pH greater than 6.5. To grow a good crop, crop nutrient requirements (CNRs), including micronutrients, must be satisfied first from the soil. If the soil cannot meet the CNR, chelated sources need to be used. This approach benefits the plant without increasing the risk of eutrophication.

Several factors reduce the bioavailability of Fe, including high soil pH, high bicarbonate content, plant species (grass species are usually more efficient than other species because they can excrete effective ligands), and abiotic stresses. Plants typically utilize iron as ferrous iron (Fe2+). Ferrous iron can be readily oxidized to the plant-unavailable ferric form (Fe3+) when soil pH is greater than 5.3 (Morgan and Lahav 2007). Iron deficiency often occurs if soil pH is greater than 7.4. Chelated iron can prevent this conversion from Fe2+ to Fe3+.

Applying nutrients such as Fe, Mn, Zn, and Cu directly to the soil is inefficient because in soil solution they are present as positively charged metal ions and will readily react with oxygen and/or negatively charged hydroxide ions (OH-). If they react with oxygen or hydroxide ions, they form new compounds that are not bioavailable to plants. Both oxygen and hydroxide ions are abundant in soil and soilless growth media. The ligand can protect the micronutrient from oxidization or precipitation. Figure 1 shows examples of the typical iron deficiency symptoms of lychee grown in Homestead, Florida, in which the lychee trees have yellow leaves and small, abnormal fruits. Applying chelated fertilizers is an easy and practical correction method to avoid this nutrient disorder. For example, the oxidized form of iron is ferric (Fe3+), which is not bioavailable to plants and usually forms brown ferric hydroxide precipitation (Fe(OH)3). Ferrous sulfate, which is not a chelated fertilizer, is often used as the iron source. Its solution should be green. If the solution turns brown, the bioavailable form of iron has been oxidized and Fe is therefore unavailable to plants.

In the soil, plant roots can release exudates that contain natural chelates. The nonprotein amino acid, mugineic acid, is one such natural chelate called phytosiderophore (phyto: plant; siderophore: iron carrier) produced by graminaceous (grassy) plants grown in low-iron stress conditions. The exuded chelate works as a vehicle, helping plants absorb nutrients in the root-solution-soil system (Lindsay 1974). A plant-excreted chelate forms a metal complex (i.e., a coordination compound) with a micronutrient ion in soil solution and approaches a root hair. In turn, the chelated micronutrient near the root hair releases the nutrient to the root hair. The chelate is then free and becomes ready to complex with another micronutrient ion in the adjacent soil solution, restarting the cycle.

Chemical reactions between micronutrient chelates and soil can be avoided by using a foliar application. Chelated nutrients also facilitate nutrient uptake efficiency for foliar application because crop leaves are naturally coated with wax that repels water and charged substances, such as ferrous ions. The organic ligand around the chelated micronutrient can penetrate the wax layer, thus increasing iron uptake (Figure 2). Compared to traditional iron fertilization, chelated iron fertilization is significantly more effective and efficient (Figure 3) than non-chelated fertilizer sources.

Therefore, chelated fertilization can improve micronutrient use efficiency and make micronutrient fertilization more cost effective. The images in Figure 3 show the difference in three treatments with lychee: chelated Fe(II) is greener than FeSO4 plus sulfuric acid, and FeSO4 plus sulfuric acid is greener than no iron fertilization (Schaffer et al. 2011).

Which crops often need chelated fertilizers?

Vegetable and fruit crop susceptibility to micronutrients differs significantly (Table 2). For those in the highly or moderately susceptible categories, chelated fertilizers are often needed. For those with low susceptibility, no chelated fertilizers are needed unless the soil is low in micronutrient bioavailability, as demonstrated by a soil test. Soil pH is a major factor influencing micronutrient bioavailability; therefore, if soil pH is greater than 6.5, then the soil may have limited micronutrient bioavailability, and chelated fertilizers may be needed.

Which chelated fertilizer should be used?

The ligands EDTA, DTPA, and EDDHA are often used in chelated fertilizers (Table 4). Their effectiveness differs significantly. EDDHA chelated Fe is most stable at soil pH greater than 7 (Figure 4, A and B). Chelated fertilizer stability is desired because it means the chelated micronutrient will remain in a bioavailable form for a much longer time period, thus increasing micronutrient use efficiency in vegetable and fruit production. The stability of three typical chelated Fe fertilizers varies at different pH conditions (Figure 4, A). The Y-axis represents the ratio of chelated Fe to total chelate and ranges from 0 to 1.0. A value of 1.0 means the chelate is stable. The X-axis represents soil pH. At 6.0, the ratios for all three chelated Fe fertilizers are 1.0 (stable), but at pH 7.5, only the ratio of EDDTA chelated Fe is 1.0. That of DTPA chelated Fe is only 0.5, and that of EDTA chelated Fe is only 0.025. So, in practice, EDDTA chelated Fe fertilizer is most effective when pH is greater than 7 but most costly. Accordingly, crop yields of these three chelated fertilizers are in this order: FeEDDHA > FeDTPA > FeEDTA (Figure 4, B). See Micronutrient Deficiencies in Citrus: Iron, Zinc, and Manganese (SL 204/SS423: Micronutrient Deficiencies in Citrus: Iron, Zinc, and Manganese) for effective pH ranges of iron chelates. Table 3 shows the relationship between soil pH and chelated fertilizer requirement.

Correction of Fe deficiency depends on individual crop response and many other factors. For instance, for vegetables, the rate is usually 0.4–1 lb. chelated Fe in 100 gal. of water per acre. Deciduous fruits need 0.1–0.2 lb. chelated Fe in 25 gal. of water per acre (Table 5). Foliar application is more effective than soil application. For foliar application, either inorganic or chelated Fe is effective, but for fertigation, chelated Fe should be used. In high pH soil, crops are also vulnerable to Cu deficiency stresses. Chelated Cu is significantly more effective than inorganic Cu. A commonly used copper chelate is Na2CuEDTA, which contains 13% Cu. Natural organic materials have approximately 0.5% Cu (Table 5).

In addition to soil pH, Mn is also influenced by aeration, moisture, and organic matter content. Chelated Mn can improve Mn bioavailability. Mn deficiency occurs more often in high pH and dry soil. Similar to other micronutrients, foliar spray is much more effective than soil application. For commercial vegetable production, 0.2–0.5 lb. MnEDTA in 200 gal. of water per acre can effectively correct Mn deficiency (Table 5). Zinc is another micronutrient whose bioavailability is closely associated with soil pH. Crops may be susceptible to Zn deficiency in soil with pH > 7.3. Spraying 0.10–0.14 lb. chelated Zn in 100 gal. of water per acre is effective (Poh et al. 2009). Animal waste and municipal waste also contain Cu, Mn, and Zn micronutrients (Table 5).

If we apply the same logic to human beings, then we would also want to have a lower pH in the intestines for the best absorption of minerals. And how do we accomplish that? By increasing the number of probiotics in our intestines.

And then there is gold...

Scientists Mine Gold With Alfalfa

As a child growing up in the mining village of Parral in northern Mexico, Jorge Gardea-Torresdey learned quickly about the devastation that resulted from the effort to extract gold and silver from land around his community.

Toxic chemicals, including cyanide and mercury, leached into the soil, leaving it useless for anything else, and even as a kid he figured there had to be a better way.

That's why today he has an alfalfa field growing near his lab at the University of Texas, El Paso.

Don't laugh. Those alfalfa plants are mining gold. And if his research continues to hit pay dirt, someday gold used in everything from medical procedures to high-tech industries might well come from fields of alfalfa.

Using Plants as Tools

So far, his plants have produced only nanoparticles of gold — tiny specks less than a billionth of a meter in diameter — but Gardea thinks they are capable of a much more prodigious output.

"I think we can get 20 percent of the weight of the plant in gold," he says. "That could be possible."

The success he and his colleagues have had so far, he says, amounts to a childhood dream come true. It turns out that he happened to be the right person, at the right place, at the right time.

His passion for chemistry began as a high school student when he worked in the laboratory at one of the mines near his village. Years later, he finished his graduate study just as a new field was emerging. Scientists were experimenting with using trees and plants to extract toxic materials from the ground.

The process, called phytoremediation, relies on the natural ability of some plants to take up materials, even heavy metals, through their roots. Scientists across the country are experimenting with using the process to clean up toxic spills ranging from explosive materials to hydrocarbons.

Gardea plunged into the field nearly a decade ago, working mainly with alfalfa.

"We found that alfalfa can take up metal more than other plants," he says, suggesting that it is probably suitable for cleaning up some highly toxic sites. The plant concentrates the metal in its shoots, making it possible to remove the hazardous material from the area.

I stumbled on that this morning. The original was in French and I will paste it below. Although I find the subject of soil to be related to this topic here, I looked up the content summary for the promoted book, and I'm not sure if they discuss the soil topic in it. It still seems like an interesting book to read.


Translated with Google:
These samples are of the same soil type and have been in corn-bean rotation for over 20 years, but their treatment was very different. The soil on the left has not been plowed or fertilized with anhydrous ammonia in over 20 years and has benefited from a cover crop of rye. The soil on the right has been plowed every year, as well as fertilized with anhydrous ammonia in the fall.
This photo was taken approximately 2 minutes after the samples were submerged in water.

The plowed soil practically “exploded” as soon as it hit the water. Repeated tilling of the soil destroyed its structure, removing interstitial space and the biological “glue” that helps hold the soil together, and as a result the soil fell apart. On the contrary, through minimal soil disturbance, the no-till soil has excellent interstitial space and extensive biological activity, which has given the soil a healthy structure that can withstand water shock.

In less than 5 minutes, the plowed soil was completely gone, while the untilled soil remained almost entirely intact.
We wanted to see how long this could last and continued adding water (to compensate for evaporation) for several weeks. We stopped after 6 weeks, during which the unplowed soil sample was still 95% intact. To find out how to protect our soils and lands, our book "Forêts" explain everything. Sold by “La Relève et La Peste”, an independent publishing house.

Book topic: Communication and intelligence of trees, History of trees, Deforestation and clear-cutting, How to replant a forest?, Learning about wild gathering, The call of the forest, How does the forest play an essential role in our health?

Ces échantillons sont du même type de sol et sont en rotation de maïs-fèves depuis plus de 20 ans, mais leur traitement a été très différent. Le sol de gauche n’a pas été labouré ni fertilisé avec de l’ammoniac anhydre depuis plus de 20 ans et il a bénéficié d’une culture de couverture de seigle. Le sol de droite a été labouré chaque année, ainsi que fertilisé avec de l’ammoniac anhydre à l’automne.
Cette photo a été prise environ 2 minutes après que les échantillons aient été plongés dans l’eau.

Le sol labouré a pratiquement « explosé » dès qu’il a touché l’eau. Le labourage répété du sol a détruit sa structure, supprimant l’espace interstitiel et la « colle » biologique qui aide à maintenir le sol cohérent, et par conséquent le sol s’est désagrégé. Au contraire, grâce à une perturbation minimale du sol, le sol non labouré a un excellent espace interstitiel et une activité biologique étendue, ce qui a conféré au sol une structure saine qui peut résister aux chocs de l’eau.

En moins de 5 minutes, le sol labouré avait complètement disparu, tandis que le sol non labouré est resté presque entièrement intact.
Nous avons voulu voir combien de temps cela pouvait durer et nous avons continué à ajouter de l’eau (pour compenser l’évaporation) pendant plusieurs semaines. Nous avons arrêté après 6 semaines, pendant lesquelles l’échantillon de sol non labouré était encore intact à 95%. Pour découvrir comment protéger nos sols et nos terres, notre livre "Forêts" vous explique tout. Vendu aux éditions "La Relève et La Peste", une maison d’édition indépendante.

Sujet du livre: Communication et intelligence des arbres, Histoire de l’arbre, Déforestation et coupe rase, Comment replanter une forêt ?, Apprentissage de la cueillette sauvage, L’appel de la forêt, Comment la forêt joue un rôle essentiel sur notre santé ?


While on the subject of soil and replanting a forest, does anyone know of Ernst Götsch in Brazil?
What this man achieved is impressive and he is a role model in terms of sustainable agriculture.
He reforested 480 hectares of dead abused soil from scratch and without irrigation or chemicals.

Ernst Götsch
(born 1948) is a Swiss farmer and researcher working mostly in Brazil. He has advocated for an ancient system of climate and biodiversity-friendly sustainable farming techniques known as syntropic agriculture.

Aware that the answers he looked for would not come from the laboratory, he resigned, and in 1974, leased areas in Switzerland and Germany to begin his experiments in the field. Influenced by the theories of Ecological Agriculture launched by Hans Peter Rush and Hans Müller, he systematically combined the cultivation of vegetables, roots, and grains, in search for beneficial cooperations that resulted in greater productivity. He took an important step by integrating fruit cultivation into his designs, and observed the benefits the trees brought to the system, thanks to their biomass from the woods and the positive interactions with other species. He proposed to increase the diversity of the consortia, including not only short cycle species but all stages of a forest occupation – from pioneer (placenta) to climax. He then understood deeply that the dynamics of natural succession should be incorporated into agriculture, favoring, as in a forest, the establishment of ecosystems with increasing levels of organization. In that period, one of his conclusions was that the health of the plant did not depend exclusively on the treatment given to it as an individual. Neither was the rotation of crops or consortia. It was necessary to consider the ecosystem as a whole, including intraspecific and interspecific relationships.

The results of his experiments have given him job offers in other countries. In Namibia and Costa Rica he applied his ideas in different climatic and social contexts, which brought him closer to the tropics. The migration to Brazil was the consequence of a partnership with a fellow countryman – a landowner in Bahia who wanted to enter the cocoa market and invited Ernst to manage the venture. The previous owner had extracted the timber to supply his own sawmill, and when there was no tree left to cut, he converted the land into pasture. In 1982 Ernst moves with his family to the 480 hectares intended to the project. In addition to the job opportunity, it would also be a chance to test whether the methods he had developed in Europe and especially in Costa Rica would serve the dual purpose of reversing soil degradation and establishing a productive cacao plantation. In the following years, he reforested the property, introducing cocoa as a key crop, and published the results in Breakthrough in Agriculture” (1995). At that time, his work was known as Successional Agroforestry.

Here is a 2 min intro to his land and achievements:

This other video interviews large-scale ex-traditional farmers who tried and perfected his method:

He has 59 videos on Vimeo and only 43 on Youtube. So it seems more active on Vimeo. They are mostly in Portuguese but should have English subtitles.
Julius Hensel also promoted something which he called physiological salt water. I don't know how healthy would this be.

Still better than Glauber’s salts (sulphate of soda) and common salts is a mixture of salts exactly corresponding to the composition of the salty portion of the blood, and containing besides Glauber’s salt and ordinary salt, sulphate of potash and phosphate of soda. All these salts combine in their tendency to form combinations with the glycocoll of the different parts of the body, as also with the urea which exists in posse in the bases creatin, sarcin, xanthin &c. By such natural salts of the blood the flesh substance is preserved from decay and putrefaction, i. e. from chemical disintegration.

A mixture of salts formed in faithful imitation of the salty contents of the blood I term physiological normal salt* and a solution of 1/4 ounce of it in 1 quart of water I simply call physiological salt water.

By drinking this “physiological salt-water” the most natural means of transfusing blood is provided, as it corresponds in composition to the serum of the blood and is absorbed in the intestines by the lymphatics whence it passes through the lymph to the blood. The lymph being at once electrified and rendered capable of resisting chemical decomposition, the whole organism is beneficially affected, for the electric “fluid” passing along the walls of the chyle-vessels passes into the whole system, the result being that the effect on the patient is immediately visible. This weak solution of salts does not introduce anything of a foreign nature into the body, but only adds substances which are absolutely indispensible, as at least 1/4 oz of salts are passed off by the urine every 24 hours as a consequence of the oxidation caused by breathing, and must be restored to the system, else the amount of bodily electricity will be diminished. It consequently forms a beverage suitable for every condition.


Glauber’s salt is a form of sodium sulfate. It can be found in some mineral waters.

Phosphate soda was once a popular drink in America:

Potassium sulfate can be found in another popular drink, Club soda:

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