Attapulgite is a magnesium-aluminum silicate mineral, belonging to the group of hormites. It has numerous industrial applications which are attributed to its absorptive, rheological and catalytic properties Attapulgite had been used for industrial purposes for more than 40 years before it was recognized as a distinct clay mineral. Chemical composition and some of its roperties were sufficiently similar to montmorillonite to cause this confusion. In the 1940's, the structure was worked out by Bradley (1940), and the needle-like particle shape was later demonstrated by electron microscopy.
Attapulgite is a kind of crystalloid hydrous magnesium-aluminum silicate mineral, having a special laminated chain structure in which there is a crystalline lattice displacement xisted. Thus it makes the crystals contain uncertain quantities of Na+, Ca+, Fe3+ and Al, and present in the shape of needles, fibbers or fibrous clusters. Attapulgite has very good colloidal properties such as: specific features in dispersion, high temperature endurance, salt and alkali resistance, and also high adsorbing and de-colouring capabilities. Furthermore, it has certain plastic and adhesive characters. Attapulgite molecular formula is: Mg5Si8O20(HO)2(OH2)4•4H2O.
Attapulgite looks like soil, and compact blocks which are found in the sedimentary rocks and the weathering crust.
The attapulgite originates of the clay deposits, located in the Ventzia basin, of Grevena, western Macedonia, Greece.
The attapulgite products improve crop yield , first by enhancing water absorption and soil aeration and secondly by slow release of nutrients from the attapulgite to plants .
By using attapulgite, we achieve ideal conditions of soil aeration by increasing its porosity, thus helping the roots penetrate deeper, while increasing the water holding capacity of he soil very significantly the water consumption is reduced.
The attapulgite has the ability to absorb excess nitrogen, potassium, phosphorus and trace elements from the fertilization and the soil and give them back to the plant in a balanced way through a mechanism of slow release between the soil and the plant -extending their time of action- while containing natural iron prevents chlorosis, enhancing the intense green color of the leaves.
The attapulgite is recommended in all growth stages of crops like vegetables, fruit trees, ornamental plants , herbs and superfoods. The attapulgite may be used in nurseries, in admixture with humus, manure and peat.
General characteristics of the use of attapulgite in agriculture: