A research team led by Chung Byung-yeoup at the Korea Atomic Energy Research Institute (KAERI) said the new soil is made by using small quantities of so-called rare earth elements. These are a group of compound materials made up of Lanthan, Scandium and Yterium.
“Test have shown that this new topsoil boosts plant growth by 30 per cent, strengthens roots, while lowering nitrate and pesticide levels by up to 60 per cent.
Nitrate is the source of nitrosoamine that causes the “blue body syndrome” in plants. This disease is called the cancer of plants.
The earth elements were traditionally used to make superconducting semiconductors, cutting edge memory devices and TV tubes, but research has shown they can be mixed with arable soil.
The KAERI researcher said that patents have been issued for the special soil in South Korea, while similar protection is being sought in Japan.
The arable topsoil market is worth about 100 billion won (US$110 million) a year, with half of the soil being used in rice paddies.