Agricultural land reclamation is a great solution to fertilizer’s mining footprint; however, it relies on huge amounts of accurate and granular soil data to be effective.
Context & Challenges
In order to produce fertilizer, land must be mined for phosphate and other minerals, a process which has the highest ecological footprint of the fertilizer supply chain. Mining land involves disturbing native landscapes and soils, using heavy equipment, altering the pH, and generally uprooting the ecosystems. The result is a loss of topsoil, water erosion, reduced nutrients, organic matter, compaction, and an inability to support previous plant life.
Phosphorous is one of the key three ingredients for plant life, used primarily to grow crops. The U.S. is the third-largest producer of phosphate and the third-biggest phosphorous fertilizer user in the world. However, the environmental impact of mining phosphorous could prove prohibitive to its production unless successful land reclamation techniques are developed.
Governments are mounting pressure on corporations to reclaim land. For example, Florida requires corporations to return all mined land to productive use by law.
However, to reclaim land and do it well is a data-intensive task, relying on a huge number of inputs at an extremely granular level.
For example, integral to the land reclamation process is stabilizing the pH of the soil so that native wildlife can return. Typically, lime is added to soil to create the appropriate pH levels, however to add exactly the right amount of lime, one must have granular soil data. Given that soil level can vary from mile to mile, this is not an easy feat. As such, the standard practice in Virginia for example, is to apply 2 tons per mile.
A recent study that collected precise soil data in a stretch of land in Virginia recommended no lime for almost half the pipeline.
With the right data, one could minimize the amount of lime and fertilizer used which has the potential to dramatically cut costs and increase the success of reclamation.
— Fertilizer Companies
Companies like Mosaic are pressured by growing regulation to reclaim land they have mined, a labor-intensive and difficult task given today’s conditions.
— The Environment
Mining wreaks havoc on all aspects of the ecosystem, destroying wildlife and waterways. Without effective reclamation, theses losses can never be regained.
— Government Bodies
Government bodies are increasing regulation on land reclamation, a task which is limited by lagging and incomplete data.
— The Agriculture Industry
The agriculture industry’s ecological footprint is considerably increased by the mining process, with ineffective land reclamation doing little to ease the impact.
Data management for agricultural land reclamation is simplified on STRATO Mercata.
A STRATO Mercata product could revolutionize the process of land reclamation from three perspectives.
— Collecting data before mining to develop an accurate picture of the land in its original state as a reference point
— Recording the mining process for an understanding of what was disturbed and how
— Measuring the post-mining land to develop a granular overview of all pertinent data
Together, this allows for a data-driven process and one with precise and effective results, an improvement which will fundamentally better the ecological footprint of the fertilizer industry. Benefits include:
— Automate data collection around all elements of the mining and recollection process
— Create smart contracts requiring land reclamation after mining to digitize regulation
— Allow government oversight into the land reclamation process, to ensure regulation
— Ensure a precise land reclamation response by providing granular and accurate data
Additional features include:
— RESTful APIs for direct connection of IoT devices to the blockchain network
— Identity Management, OAuth and SSO capabilities for simplified IoT authorization and user login
— Privacy via private chains to keep any competitive/operations data private
— Enterprise Data Modeling for integration of existing and future land reclamation models