Mission statement

Mt Sylvia Soil Conditioner is a company committed to the production of sustainable agricultural inputs. It is focussed on developing its palagonite products having recognised their unique qualities as superior soil conditioners. They show particular promise when combined with animal composts or microbial rich solutions to create complete biological fertilisers.

Palagonite; a product for our times


Is a unique material which greatly improves soil structure, enhances crop yields and enriches composts. Join the growing contingent of businesses discovering and taking advantage of this amazing all natural product.


Is a little known alteration product from the reaction of water with basaltic lava. Initially this reaction produces a volcanic glass, but this glass breaks down to palagonite, a material retaining all the macro/micro elements of the original basalt but now in a far more plant available state.


Has unique characteristics. It is largely amorphous in composition. This means it has lost its crystallinity and that the elements within are not strongly bound. It is now both a supplier and retainer of plant available nutrients.


Has a very high water holding capacity. This is due to the high microporosity and large internal and external surface area. The large surface area and charge of palagonite may act as a flocculant, thereby improving clay aggregation and aggregate stability of soils which results in better soil structure and water filtration.


Has a high cation exchange capacity (cec) that averages 35 meq/100g. This is very different to rock mineral dusts that rarely exceed 10meq/100g. The CEC of a soil is a measure of its ability to retain both nutrients and water. It is closely related to fertility and is a measure of the number of exchangeable cations per dry weight that a soil is capable of holding at a given ph value and be available for exchange in soil-water combinations.


  • ORGANIC FARMERS an affective way to dramatically improve the quality of your soils and to improve production
  • COMPOST MAKERS improve the value and performance of your compost by introducing bioavailable minerals
  • LIVESTOCK PRODUCERS gain an added revenue stream from animal wastes for sale or for conditioning and improving the soil on your own land.
  • HORTICULTURISTS generate your own composts and blend in palagonite to add to your soils and improve the quality of your crops
  • BACK YARD GARDENERS make up your own compost and blend with "soil support", our fine palagonite sold in 20 kg bags


In a geological/geochemical context why does palagonite perform so much better than other basalt rock mineral soil conditioners?

We have discussed above the eruption and flow of basalt lava into an existing crater lake and the subsequent reaction of water with the lava. This reaction results in the formation of volcanic glass where fractures appearing in the quenched basalt are penetrated by super heated water. When this glass breaks down it converts to palagonite, a yellow brown largely amorphous material that lacks crystallinity. XRD (X-Ray powder diffraction) plots of palagonite clearly show the lack of crystal definition for most of the material. When this material is combined with microbe-rich compost the action of these microbes chelate the plant nutrients in palagonite by combining them with organic ligands which can be absorbed by the root systems of plants.


The Company

Mt Sylvia Soil Conditioners is focused on the development of its Palagonite products and the education of current and future clients in the uses of these products.

Company information

The Directors have degrees in science and are focussed on delivering the best outcomes from the products they either extract or mine from their operations at Mt Sylvia. They continue to identify opportunities in sourcing rock materials with unique characteristics that are linked to better agricultural outcomes.

They recognize that in this era of water shortage and increasing awareness of chemical pollution in industry and agriculture, Palagonite offers unique, environmentally sustainable solutions to a diverse range of problems.

An Important Testimonial for Soil Conditioner

David Goulay of Soil Life Australia
Murwillumbah NSW


I have completed a trial of Mt Sylvia Soil Conditioner product called palagonite (Soil Support) on a crop of ginger. The trial involved the input of composted chicken manure (6 tonnes Ha) prior to planting except for two rows which were also treated with palagonite (6 tonnes per Ha).

The crop has now been harvested. For the non-palagonite treated rows 1.6 tonnes of ginger were harvested per row. For the two palagonite treated rows 2.5 tonnes of ginger were harvested per row. This represents a more than 50% increase in yield for the palagonite treated rows.

Anthony Bauer
Lockyer Valley Organic Farm


Palagonite a soil amendment - a scientific review

Palagonite is the first stable product of volcanic glass alteration. It is an heterogeneous material, usually with highly variable optical and structural properties, ranging from a clear, transparent, isotropic, smooth and commonly concentrically banded material, commonly called "gel-palagonite", to a translucent, anisotropic, slightly to strongly birefringent material of fibrous lath like or granular structure. commonly called '' fibro-palagonite''. The colour of palagonite ranges from shades of yellow to shades of brown.

Soil remineralisation with basaltic rock

The following paper was written by Boral researchers some 15 years ago and indicate Boral's focus at that time. I would like to bring to your attention the average CEC values coming from their crusher dusts. They average no more than 10 meq/100g where Mt Sylvia palagonite averages 35 meq/100g .Given that the CEC is a measure of soil fertility This paper gives the reader an opportunity to compare Boral data with data from our own palagonite which is available to read in the Product section of this website.

Following an extensive worldwide literature search and discussions with experts in the field from Europe, USA and Australia, greenhouse trials have been carried out using basaltic rock dust to assess the impact on plant growth and health and soil improvements. Rock dust contains a large range of trace elements and improves thesoil pH, water retention, microbial activity, in general the plant growth and the soil structure. Basaltic rock dust with higher paramagnetic intensity is very beneficial for the improvement of soil quality and in turn plant growth and health. Field trials are being undertaken to verify the positive results from the greenhouse trials. Additional investigations recommended are microbial treatments, assessment of compost behaviour and issues related to blending, pelletising, minerals addition etc.

Mt Sylvia Soil Conditioner product Palagonite included in an Odour trial in Poultry Sheds

Thursday, October 26, 2017

Positive anecdotal evidence from a number of independent users has led palagonite to be part of this trial. The reason the Directors of Mt Sylvia Soil Conditioners are so excited is because of the presence of Goethite in palagonite