Limestone extraction & soy

Where soybeans are planter around the world, they need lime to grow. But extracting it causes even more damage to the environment. Lime extraction in the Amazon alone could lead to considerable destruction of natural resources.
Lime is important because it neutralizes acidity in soil, making it easier for soybeans and other plants to absorb nutrients.

But mining limestone significantly damages nature. To get to the limestone deposits, miners have to remove considerable overburden (natural cover, soil, etc). Large amounts of energy are then needed to cook the limestone, making it into agricultural lime.

In the Brazilian savannah areas, 4 to 6 metric tonnes per hectare of lime are required to produce soybean. But in cleared forest areas, only 2 metric tonnes per hectare of lime are required, initially at least.

This raises 2 issues. The first is the production and transportation of the lime itself. The second issue is the incentive to shift production into cleared forest areas that do not require the initial application of so much lime.

Credits

Extracts from "World Agriculture & Environment" (2004) by Jason Clay

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