Heliopolis University testing basalt in agriculture for climate and fertilization


In a world grappling with the looming threat of climate change, a groundbreaking initiative is gaining momentum, and it has a simple yet profound message: “Let Mother Earth help to save the Earth.” This visionary concept, formulated by Dutch professor Dr. Olaf Schuiling, offers an exciting approach to combat the climate crisis by harnessing the power of nature. The idea is to work in harmony with natural processes, gently guiding them to counteract the environmental challenges our society has created.

In this spirit, Farms4Climate, in partnership with Heliopolis University and Sekem, has embarked on an innovative project in Egypt’s Al Wahat Al Bahariya desert. Their mission: is to transform a barren landscape into a fertile oasis by increasing plant growth through agriculture and applying basalt rock powder to agricultural fields, effectively sequestering carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.

Under the banner of the PRIMA project, they are currently testing the efficacy of basalt rock powder on 10 hectares of irrigated farmland at the Al Wahat farm. The ambitious project involves treating eight different crops with three distinct mixtures of basalt and compost. Researchers and students from Heliopolis University are meticulously collecting data on crops, soil quality, and water resources.


Sekem-Heliopolis University test farm in Wahat, illustrating the processes in the field: milling, mixing, spreading, crop growth

This pioneering initiative seeks to answer several critical questions, including how much basalt powder should be applied per hectare, the potential annual carbon dioxide removal per hectare, increased crop production resulting from nutrient-rich basalt, cost-efficiency per ton of crop, and the overall positive or negative effects of incorporating basalt in agriculture.

Flow of atmospheric CO2 through plants (black arrows) and through direct exchange into soil (large arrows). Organic acids from plant roots and development of microbes cause basalt to dissolve, bring nutrients to plants and fix CO2 as carbonate minerals.


The potential benefits of integrating basalt into agriculture are immense. If this project can demonstrate its effectiveness, the implications for Egypt, and indeed the world, are staggering. Farmers stand to gain significantly as expensive chemical fertilizers can be replaced with a cost-effective, all-natural alternative – basalt rock powder, readily available in abundance. Moreover, embracing this organic approach to agriculture enhances soil health, while carbon credits can be registered and sold by farmers, ultimately bolstering their income. On a national scale, Egypt could potentially remove over 20 million tons of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere annually, representing a substantial ten percent reduction of the country’s current emissions. The prospect is nothing short of thrilling.


While similar tests are underway in six other locations worldwide, Egypt’s endeavor stands out as the sole initiative set in a desert climate. The concept of incorporating basalt into agricultural practices is steadily gaining acceptance globally.

However, the key questions that remain to be addressed are the cost per ton of crop and the quantity of carbon removed from the atmosphere per ton of basalt applied – these are the challenges that the partners at Farms4Climate are determined to tackle.

The Dutch professor’s innovative vision and the collaborative efforts of Farms4Climate, Heliopolis University, and Sekem are not only greening the desert but also potentially offering a viable, sustainable solution to a critical issue facing humanity. With determination and dedication, they are proving that by harmonizing with the earth, we can indeed play a vital role in saving our planet.