Great Salt Lake: It’s the Minerals!
by Gary Kline
The oceans, we know, are full of salty water. You can’t drink the water, at least not very much of it. But you can swim in it, and you can drown in it. The saltiness is due to minerals, largely washed in over the eons from the land, but also from undersea vents and volcanic eruptions. The salt content is about 3.5%, and likely will always be at that concentration; in a state of equilibrium.
Great Salt Lake, a very big lake in Utah, is much like the ocean, only saltier; and if you go for a swim in it, you will not sink. You would have to work at it in order to drown. That’s because there is a much higher concentration of minerals in Great Salt Lake which causes a human to float, like it or not. This is a lake unlike more than 99% of all the lakes on the planet. Why is that? First, I want to examine a typical fresh water lake.
Black Lake is like nearly all other lakes. Four and a half miles long and 40 feet deep, Black Lake is not salty. It has a natural outlet at the south end, which is the Black River, and that river flows into the Chehalis River before entering Grays Harbor and emptying on out into the Pacific Ocean. Salmon make their way all the way up into Black Lake’s tributary creeks from the ocean. Black Lake also has a man-made outlet ditch at the north end, dug to Percival Creek, that empties into Capital “Lake” (actually an impoundment of the lower Deschutes River) and on out into Puget Sound.
I believe there are some shrimp-like critters that live in Salt Lake, but not much else. Biologically, the lake is like a desert; whereas the oceans harbor far more forms of life than exist on land. And, for the most part, those oceanic or marine life forms enjoy exquisite health, unlike what terrestrial and freshwater forms experience. It’s the water - - - or more accurately - - - it’s the minerals; all the minerals on the planet kept suspended in the water, almost as if it was planned that way. And, oh yes, our blood carries that same profile of minerals as found in the ocean, except much more dilute. Our own health rises and falls according to the mineral composition of our blood.
But the very existence of Great Salt Lake has much to tell us. The reason it is so salty is that it has no outlet; it is an enclosed, shallow basin. Water runs in from the surrounding land, but it can’t get out, except by evaporation. Rainfall is scant, but washes minerals from the land that then enters the streams, which manage to flow into Salt Lake. Exactly which minerals, I don’t know, but likely not the same proportions as found in the oceans all around the globe. Water evaporates, but the minerals stay behind and build up high density in the lake. If there got to be enough of them, I suppose we could walk on the lake as people do on Utah’s salt flats.
As minerals leave the land, they impoverish it from a fertility standpoint. Such is the case with the mineral fertility of our own Western Washington soils, given the high amount of rainfall we get. Our soils support big trees, but are not rich enough in minerals to permit sustained cropping of vegetables or decent game animals. Think of the puny black-tailed deer compared to the huge mule deer east of the Cascades where rain is sparse and the soils are mineral-rich.
Great Salt Lake is too salty to support much aquatic life, but it is not a waste. Those minerals in the water or on surrounding shores, are a valuable resource. They can he harvested (and probably are) and put back on the land at some optimum concentration to restore the minerals that have been lost or depleted. Such restored lands can be made to produce very high quality, nutrient-dense crops and livestock - - - the better to make people’s health. That it can do that, and that ocean water is a nearly perfect fertilizer matrix, when applied properly to farm and garden soils, has been experimentally demonstrated in numerous ways.
You can read about seawater, sea salt and use of seawater extract in fertilization in the 1976 book, Sea Energy Agriculture by Maynard Murray, and also the 2005 book, Fertility From the Ocean Deep, written by Charles Walters, telling mostly the story of Dr. Murray’s odyssey, his research and the practical experiences of his disciples. I have to say that the book by Walters is one of the most fascinating and informative books I have read, despite Walters’ obtuse writing and the book being riddled with distracting typos. Chapter 10 of that book, which primarily records the writing of an agronomist named Lee McComb, is a very straightforward and cogent summation of the seawater fertilizer story. McComb’s account of his 1931 visit to Salt Lake, where it all first clicked in his head, is what inspired me to write this little article for the lesson I think it uniquely illustrates regarding the leaching of minerals from soil by the agency of rain - - - often assisted inattentive man.
There is yet another, more modern, pioneer in the seawater as fertilizer saga to be mentioned, and that is Arthur Zeigler, author of the 2012 book, Seawater Concentrate for Abundant Agriculture, which is dedicated to the remembrance of Dr. Maynard Murray. Arthur Zeigler is the inventor and manufacturer of Sea-Crop Ocean Mineral Extract, made from Pacific Ocean water taken at the mouth of Willapa Bay in southwest Washington and sold by Black Lake Organic.
Since I have written several other articles about Mr. Zielger and Sea-Crop’s amazing effects on crops and animals, I will not repeat the information here. I will add, however, that I have learned two relevant things. One, it takes 30 gallons of seawater to make one gallon of Sea-Crop; and two, part of the biological life, along with organic compounds, taken in with the seawater remains live when it goes into the bottle, and this is a very big aspect in the synergy and effectiveness of the product and its 86 or so mineral elements (four more are the organic elements of carbon, oxygen, hydrogen and nitrogen). One more point to be stressed is that 95% of sodium chloride is removed by Zeigler’s secret process of mineral extraction. It should be noted, however, that Murray did not view sodium chloride as a hindrance to plant or animal nutrition. Indeed, our bodies need lots of sodium.
Maynard Murray developed a successful system of hydroponics he named Seaponics. It involved putting plants, such as tomato seedlings, in a bed of clean river rock and running a flush of seawater through the beds twice or three times a day. Reportedly, this yielded excellent crops of tasty, nutrient-rich tomatoes and other vegetables. The difference is that whereas conventional hydroponics relied on man-made chemical solutions based on the faulty NPK mentality, supplemented by mandatory pesticides to prop up the system, Seaponics relies on a wide-range of trace elements and a medium which contains very little N, P and K.
The amazing thing is that if you can bypass the hurdles of feeding plants via the soil and get trace elements (and even sodium chloride) directly to the plant roots, it is actually that array of trace elements which nourishes the plant and causes it to grow to utmost health stature and physiology. This turns regular farming on its head.
But more than that, it shows us how we can return our nation’s ravaged and depleted soils to high fertility and healthiness, which can lead to return of health in the nation’s population that has been in rapid decline since about the time of McComb’s 1931 visit to the Great Salt Lake. Now, all we need to do is work biochar into our agricultural soils to insure very long-term fertility through the retention of minerals otherwise leached away by rains and irrigation.
There is yet another impressive aspect of sea salt fertilization that I want to append here. Don Jensen, a Nebraska farmer and close disciple of Dr. Murray, wound up buying Murray’s experimental and production hydroponics operation in Fort Meyers, Florida, shortly before selling the Nebraska farm. Before leaving, Jensen decided to treat a section of ground with two coffee cans of sea solids (or salt) in a thousand gallons of water to which he spread wheat seeds and got the best wheat crop ever.
In another experiment he spread salt on a field which got washed downhill in a storm to a neighbor’s field and roadside ditch. The neighbor was upset and expected his pasture to be ruined. Instead, the grass grew luxuriantly, and whenever he drove his cows past the salted ground, they would stop to eat that grass and could only be moved past it with extra prodding. The cows (and Jensen’s buffalos) were simply crazy about salt-treated pasture grass.
The salt Jensen had spread on his Nebraska farmland was shipped up from Baja Mexico where it had been scraped out of a depression at the highest water line after spilling in and then being evaporated in the intense sun and heat. Sea salt is harvested from impoundments around San Francisco Bay, in Spain (Celtic sea salt) and a few other places around the world in much this same manner. Applications of up to a ton per acre of these sea solids were applied by Jensen and by Murray at various places around the United States, nearly always with impressive and ultra-healthy growth responses, which are detailed in the two books cited above.
I bring this up because there are huge salt beds, mainly below ground, in much of the southwest where salt is mined for making refined table salt (not good for you) left over after extracting the trace minerals to be sold at a premium for use in various industrial processes and manufacturing. These beds were laid down billions of years ago when the ocean covered this region. In the state of Utah, near the town of Redmond (about 135 miles south of Salt Lake), is one such mine which markets the unrefined salt as sea salt for seasoning food and also for making mineral blocks and feed supplements for livestock. We sell Redmond sea salt for use in fertilizing garden soils, and frequently it is a prescribed ingredient coming out of professional soil tests.
Yes, we are recommending that you put sea salt (or seawater extract) on your garden or farm soils for mineral enrichment. Sea-Crop can also be applied about once a month as a foliar spray on vegetables, fruit trees, pastures and ornamentals to perk up their growth like a health tonic. Taste and disease resistance are also imparted. In the words of Murray on the cover of Sea Energy Agriculture, “Nature’s Ideal Trace
Element Blend for Farm, Livestock and Humans”.
© 2013 Gary L. Kline
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