Secret of Terra Preta Soil Discovered?

We’ve discussed the basics of terra preta soil – the most fertile soil in the world – in two previous blog posts. As I explained in the earlier blog posts, scientists are racing to unlock the secrets of terra preta soil and the role that biochar plays. New biochar research is coming out that may hold the keys to restoring land degraded from years of industrial chemical farming. If the claims made in the following videos turn out to be true then that means we now know how to develop permanent soil fertility. In addition, you can heat your home and greenhouse from waste heat given off during the biochar making process. This BBC documentary — The Secret Of Eldorado – TERRA PRETA — explains why terra preta is more valuable than gold. Test trials have shown terra preta can produce 880% increase in plant yields.

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Biochar Workshop Part 1, How to Make Biochar

Detailed presentation in this excellent 4-part series. “Watch the whole day of the Biochar Workshop led by Bob Wells, soil scientist Jon Nilsson and Patryk Battle. Learn how to make biochar and its many beneficial uses including greatly enhancing soil life and fertility. Discover innovative ways to maximize its uses for dynamically carbon negative farming and gardening. Brought to you by Living Web”

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Researcher Improves Ancient Water Treatment Technology

Water Treatment with Biochar from Josh Kearns on Vimeo.

“New research into an ancient water filtration technology may provide those living in isolated, rural communities with low-cost, sustainable water treatment.

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Terra Preta Theory

How were the rich terra preta soils in the Amazon created (the most productive soil in the world)? Terra preta soils maintain their fertility forever. Scientists are racing to unlock the secrets to help feed a hungry planet, restore depleted topsoil and curb adverse climate change. A reader who wishes to remain anonymous sent me a summary of his theory.

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More Details about Terra Preta

Left - a nutrient-poor oxisol; right - an oxisol transformed into fertile terra preta using biochar.
Left – a nutrient-poor oxisol; right – an oxisol transformed into fertile terra preta using biochar.

I’m really fascinated with the terra preta/biochar concept. We briefly touched on the subject in our blog post Big Ideas that are Changing the World. Watch the excellent video there for a good overview of the subject.

Terra preta is nothing short of amazing. It’s considered the most fertile soil in the world, and has retained its fertility over thousands of years. Studies have reported positive effects from biochar on crop production in degraded and nutrient–poor soils. Biochar–enhanced soils can indefinitely sustain agricultural production [that means forever!], whereas non-amended soils quickly become depleted of nutrients. Compare terra preta to modern industrial agriculture that gradually depletes soil and pollutes groundwater and food sources with toxic chemicals.

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