Plynlimon 

Harpenden

North Wyke

Why enhanced rock weathering? 

The project will explore amending soils with crushed calcium and magnesium rich silicate rocks from waste quarry fines to accelerate natural CO2 sequestration processes. Silicate rocks, such as basalt, absorb CO2 as part of the natural chemical reactions that continuously erode away rocks over millions of years. As part of a process called enhanced rock weathering (ERW), silicate rocks are crushed and spread over farmland. Crushing the rocks gives them a greater reactive surface area, so they can absorb more CO2. The process may also improve soil health and increase crop yields. 

Objectives

To meet the UK’s net zero by 2050 targets under the Paris agreement, we need technologies to actively remove carbon emissions by addressing ‘hard-to-treat’ sectors like agriculture, aviation and industry. Enhanced rock weathering, if rolled out on a large scale to eligible pasture and arable land, could capture and store up to 45% of the UK’s net zero targets. 

Our Approach

Building on the success of the Leverhulme Centre for Climate Change Mitigation (LC3M), also led by Prof David Beerling, our Demonstrator project will provide the first integrated whole system assessment of the science, societal and scalability opportunities and challenges of enhanced rock weathering deployment in UK agriculture. Field sites are the Plynlimon Experimental Catchments (mid-Wales), Rothamsted Research’s North Wyke grassland experimental platform in Devon, and their cutting-edge arable research facility in Harpenden, Hertfordshire.

Principal Investigator

Professor David Beerling, University of Sheffield

Research team / project partners
Professor Bridget Emmett, UK Centre for Ecology & Hydrology
Professor Niall McNamara, UK Centre for Ecology & Hydrology
Professor Adie Collins, Rothamsted Research
Professor Steve McGrath, Rothamsted Research
Professor Rachael James, University of Southampton
Dr Christopher Pearce, National Oceanography Centre
Professor Ros Rickaby, University of Oxford
Professor Nick Pidgeon, Cardiff University
Professor Karen Henwood, Cardiff University
Professor Pete Smith, University of Aberdeen
Dr Phil Renforth, Heriot-Watt University
Professor Steven Banwart, University of Leeds