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.
“With the key ingredients in place, Time created terra preta. There is no recipe to make it all at once. Microbes formed from natural farming practices and have been alive in that soil for a very long time. The materials found in the soil are just natural farming products of that region and culture: manure, bones, wood ash or charcoal, etc… It’s all normal and natural inputs. People want the recipe or the secret to exploit it for all of the wrong reasons. Maybe we should just grow food in it instead of digging it up and selling it.”
His idea seems the most plausible to me. There’s *no way* the makers of terra preta soil gathered and transported 3′ of prime topsoil for their gardens. And there’s no way they built up 30′ of organic materials or so that composted down to 3′. They seem to have brought together the essentials of life (microbes/fungi, primary and trace elements, worms, biochar, moisture, etc.) and over the years the soil naturally bio-accumulated. The microbes are growing/increasing the new, rich topsoil. Biochar provides a porous structure that helps retain the nutrients. This concept is very important since modern agriculture has depleted most of the topsoil, and obviously humans can’t live without food. This means the world’s soil could be rebuilt once the current corporate-controlled system fails and the bulk of humanity chooses to live sustainably.
My personal goal is to create a self-maintaining forest garden using these concepts.