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Author Topic: What are terra preta soils?  (Read 45969 times)

Offline erich

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What are terra preta soils?
« on: 28/05/2006 06:25:50 »
Hi All:

 
 I first read about these soils in " Botany of Desire " but I did not realize their potential.
 
This entire thread on 'Terra Preta' soils I feel has great possibilities to revolutionize sustainable agriculture into a major CO2 sequestration strategy.
http://forums.hypography.com/earth-science/3451-terra-preta-9.html
 
The Georgia Inst. of Technology page:
http://www.energy.gatech.edu/presentations/dday.pdf
 
There is a soil ecology going on in these soils that is not completely understood, and if replicated and applied at scale would have multiple benefits for farmers and environmentalist.
 
I've sent this thread to the researchers at M-Roots, who make Mycorisal fungus inoculations for acceleration of the reestablishment of the symbiotic fungal / root relationship. Here's the M-Roots site: http://www.rootsinc.com/   ,they were most interested.
 


Erich J. Knight
« Last Edit: 29/10/2008 08:56:58 by chris »


 

Offline erich

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Re: What are terra preta soils?
« Reply #1 on: 29/06/2006 05:31:20 »
Another finding that supports the need to develope these soils on a large scale:

New Scientist News - Fertilisers give the lungs of the planet bad breath

http://www.newscientist.com/article/...ad-breath.h tml


Erich



Erich J. Knight
 

Offline erich

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Re: What are terra preta soils?
« Reply #2 on: 02/07/2006 05:38:33 »
Terra Preta is on the Agenda at the 18th World Crongress of Soil Science:

The Rescue of an Old Indigenous Practice in the Tropics - Using Charcoal to Improve Soil Quality.

http://crops.confex.com/crops/wc2006/techprogram/P16274.HTM


Sorry for the bad linkon last post, here's a good one:

http://www.newscientist.com/article.ns?id=mg19025575.200&feedId=life_rss20



Erich J. Knight
 

Offline erich

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Re: What are terra preta soils?
« Reply #3 on: 29/06/2006 05:31:20 »
Another finding that supports the need to develope these soils on a large scale:

New Scientist News - Fertilisers give the lungs of the planet bad breath

http://www.newscientist.com/article/...ad-breath.h tml


Erich



Erich J. Knight
 

Offline erich

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Re: What are terra preta soils?
« Reply #4 on: 02/07/2006 05:38:33 »
Terra Preta is on the Agenda at the 18th World Crongress of Soil Science:

The Rescue of an Old Indigenous Practice in the Tropics - Using Charcoal to Improve Soil Quality.

http://crops.confex.com/crops/wc2006/techprogram/P16274.HTM


Sorry for the bad linkon last post, here's a good one:

http://www.newscientist.com/article.ns?id=mg19025575.200&feedId=life_rss20



Erich J. Knight
 

Offline JimBob

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Re: What are terra preta soils?
« Reply #5 on: 05/07/2006 16:52:59 »
erich,

(this intro does have a reason) There was a program on the Discovery Channel about the search for El Dorado by Gonzalo Pizzaro, completed by Francisco de Orellana, in which the trip was chronicled. During the trip, they started from Quito, Peru, found a river where thay had to fight long-haired warriors (Amazon females ???) giving the river it's name. During the trip, Gonzalo became seperated from the rest of the group and was lost. The remained sailed the rest of the leingth of the river and made it back to Spain.

The significance of this was the recording of a very rich, lond established agriculture at a long inhabeted site in the Amazon, a region that is very poor soil which is only suitable for one season of planting in normal slash and burn agricultiural techniques.

Recent investigations by archeologist has found the charcoal-enrichment to have been used at this site. The University of Georgia started research to reproduce the Terra Preta soil. The big problem for this program at U.G. has been the inability to reproduce the bacterial assemblage found in the Amazon site in a more temperate climate. Yes, charcoal enrichment does boost the growing power of any soil but the results found in Terra Preta soils cannot be reproduced  in Georga.

The problem of reproducing this soil in toto still remain.  



The mind is like a parachute. It works best when open.  -- A. Einstein
 

Offline erich

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Re: What are terra preta soils?
« Reply #6 on: 06/07/2006 19:57:28 »

That is why I've sent it to the researchers at M-Roots, http://www.rootsinc.com/

 I also sent it to all my local soil science people, extention agents,James Madison Univ.,and Dr. Jared Diamond, if he replies, I will probably have an orgasm!

 If pre Columbian Indians could produce these soils up to 6 feet deep over 20% of the Amazon basin it seems that our energy and agricultural industries could also product them at scale.

Harnessing the work of this vast number of microbes and fungi could change the whole equation of EROEI for food and Bio fuels. I see this as the only sustainable agricultural strategy if we no longer have cheap oil for fertilizer.

 I believe, to have results in our climate, an M-Roots type fungus inoculent and local compost would be needed to get this super community of wee beasties populated into their proper Soil horizon Carbon Condos.

The new agricultural technology called marker-assisted selection, or MAS offers a sophisticated method to greatly accelerate classical breeding could be the key to the large scale development of Terra Preta agriculture.

 http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/07/03/AR2006070300922.html

Or, We could get Dr. Ventor to design the bugs needed for our locals:
synthetic genomics, inc. http://www.syntheticgenomics.com/index.htm

 I hope these efforts will lead to a larger systemic and holistic approach to sustainable agricultural development.

 Regards,  Erich

 



Erich J. Knight
 

Offline erich

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Re: What are terra preta soils?
« Reply #7 on: 28/08/2006 05:23:12 »
Here is a great article that high lights this pyrolysis process ,  ( http://www.eprida.com/hydro/  )   which could use  existing infrastructure to provide Charcoal sustainable Agriculture , Syn-Fuels,  and a variation of this process would also work as well for H2 , Charcoal-Fertilizer, while sequestering CO2 from Coal fired plants to build soils at large scales ,  be sure to read the " See an initial analysis NEW".  of this technology to clean up Coal fired power plants.


Soil erosion, energy scarcity, excess greenhouse gas all answered through regenerative carbon management
 http://www.newfarm.org/columns/research_paul/2006/0106/charcoal.shtml

Erich J. Knight
 

Offline erich

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Re: What are terra preta soils?
« Reply #8 on: 14/09/2006 03:38:45 »
HOT DAMN!!!!!........We made it into Nature!!

If this doesn't get Terra Preta some real traction , I don't know what will.

http://www.thenakedscientists.com/forum/index.php?topic=4407

Erich J. Knight
« Last Edit: 09/05/2007 10:44:31 by daveshorts »
 

Offline erich

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Re: What are terra preta soils?
« Reply #9 on: 14/09/2006 03:42:12 »
Got so excited ...Iput the wrong link:

http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v442/n7103/full/442624a.html

Erich J. Knight
 

Offline erich

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Re: What are terra preta soils?
« Reply #10 on: 18/09/2006 04:50:34 »
Let us get this Virtuoso Cycle Going

If pre Columbian Indians could produce these soils up to 6 feet deep over 20% of the Amazon basin it seems that our energy and agricultural industries could also product them at scale.

Harnessing the work of this vast number of microbes and fungi changes the whole equation of EROEI for food and Bio fuels. I see this as the only sustainable agricultural strategy if we no longer have cheap fossil fuels for fertilizer.

We need to get this super community of wee beasties working with us by populating them into their proper Soil horizon Carbon Condos.


I feel Terra Preta soil technology is the greatest of Ironies since Tobacco.
That is: an invention of pre-Columbian American culture, destroyed by western disease, may well be the savior of industrial western society. As inversely Tobacco, over time has gotten back at same society by killing more of us than the entire pre-Columbian population.

Erich

Erich J. Knight
 

Offline erich

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Re: What are terra preta soils?
« Reply #11 on: 09/10/2006 17:58:51 »
In another forum a poster characterized me as a chief preacher in the  Terra Preta Church.

I shall take on this mantel, and here is my first sermon:

The Terra preta Prayer

Our Carbon who art in heaven,
Hallowed be thy name
By kingdom come, thy will be done, IN the Earth to make it Heaven.
It will give us each day our daily bread and forgive us our atmospheric trespasses
As we forgive those who trespass against the Kyoto protocols
And lead us not into fossil fuel temptation, but diliver us from it's evil
low as we walk through the valley of the shadow of Global Warming,
I will feel no evil, your Bio-fuels and fertile microbes will comfort me,
For thine is the fungal kingdom,
and the microbe power,
and the Sustentation Glory,
For ever and ever (well at least 2000 years)
AMEN

Erich J. Knight
 

Offline erich

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Re: What are terra preta soils?
« Reply #12 on: 17/10/2006 06:35:14 »
I've sent Dr Antal, ( "FLash Carbonization" process: http://www.hnei.hawaii.edu/bio.r3.asp#flashcarb ) the Terra preta links and asked if he has considered these Amazon Dark Soils (ADS), Here's Dr. Antal reply:


"Dear Mr. Knight: over the past seven years my colleagues and I have written at least six proposals to initiate scientific studies of terra preta here at UH. None were funded. I suggest that you carry your message to your congressional representatives. Terra preta will not be developed if we continue to follow a business as usual appraoch. Best wishes, Michael.

Michael J. Antal, Jr.
Coral Industries Distinguished Professor of Renewable Energy Resources
Hawaii Natural Energy Institute
School of Ocean and Earth Science and Technology (SOEST)
1680 East-West Rd., POST 109
University of Hawaii at Manoa
Honolulu, HI 96822"




Also:
Dr. Steven Hodges of Virginia Tech sent this reply:


"Erich:
I attended some of the sessions at the World Congress of Soil Science on Terra Preta and had perused Dr. Lehmann's page at Cornell early last spring. We do have ongoing work on both biomass production for biorenewable fuels and the use of pyrolysis here at Va Tech (biological systems engineering). Our nutrient management specialist, Dr. Rory Maguire will be working with them to explore the use of the "by-product" char as their production models increase in scale to the point that we have enough product to work with.
While overall this looks like something that could help us from an energy standpoint, in the "Soil" scheme of things, there are some down sides of pyrolysis/char utilization. Significant amount of N are lost from the biomass, resulting in a very low N content in the char. When applied to soil, this can upset carbon to nitrogen balance to the point that microbial populations are shocked, and crop yields are significantly reduced if not carefully managed. In addition, the fine ash needs to be incorporated into the soil via tillage, putting it in conflict with no-till or reduced tillage systems in crops - a practice which also helps sequester carbon and has many other environmental benefits. Bottom line - this is something we are aware of and it is on our research agenda.

Thanks for the information and the inquiry.

Steven "



Erich J. Knight
« Last Edit: 08/11/2006 21:28:39 by erich »
 

Offline erich

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Re: What are terra preta soils?
« Reply #13 on: 01/11/2006 02:34:17 »
Hi All:
After a brief search of Charcoal Wholesalers, The best price so far, for Ag-Grade Charcoal is, trucked from Missouri, $225/ton delivered 900 miles to Virginia, $125/ton at the Charcoal yard,


We need a grand convergence:
In academia; Engineering, agronomist, soil geologist,anthropologist, bio-chemist, mycologist, zoologist ..............................

In the Public sector; waste managers, Extension agents, Environmental engineers, Energy Policy makers,........................................

In the private Sector; corporate farms, fossil fuel generators, small farmers, and the few charcoal makers left (seems mostly in Missouri)

My efforts to promote this technology in my postings realy fall short compared to this by Dr. Danny Day at GIT:

http://www.eprida.com/hydro/yahoo2004.htm

" a global Manhattan project of
climate change.


What can you do? Read up on terra preta (some of the published works
made a part of the above patent application), look at references in
the Eprida website or convince yourself by testing. Grow your favorite
plant in two pots, one with 1/3 wood charcoal (soak this in fertilizer
for several days), 1/3 sand and 1/3 available soil. Plant the other
with your normal method for potting plants. Fertilize and watch them
grow. Watch it for three seasons and note the differences. (Many have
noted their best results in the second year as microbial populations
increase) Alternately, use a microbe/fungi inoculation to speed the
response.

Then tell everyone you know.Even if we can't stop avoid the climate
shift we will begun to build an awareness of a solution. If we broaden
the understanding that we can produce carbon negative fuels, scrub
fossil fuel exhaust of pollutants and C02, reverse the effect of
mining our soil, depleting soil carbon, trace minerals and losing
agricultural productivity then we will effect many generations to
come. In our lifetime, a 2000-year-old secret is being reborn and its
timeliness could never have been more appropriate. It now up to this
generation to embrace a plan to work with nature to restore lost soil
carbon and rebuild the incredible life at work in our soils. Working
together, we can achieve the possible."

 

Offline erich

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Re: What are terra preta soils?
« Reply #14 on: 08/11/2006 21:25:05 »
Check out the International Agrichar Initiative 2007 Conference... This is basically a conference for those interested in scaling up terra preta technology...

http://iaiconference.org/home.html

From the site:

April 29 - May 2, 2007
Terrigal, New South Wales, Australia

Join the International Agrichar Initiative for a conference on Agrichar Science, Production and Utilization, being held in coastal New South Wales, Australia. The International Agrichar Initiative is a new consortium of research and development interests devoted to the sustainability of the world’s soils, and to sustainable bioenergy production.

What is the International Agrichar Initiative?

The International Agrichar Initiative is an informal, newly-formed coalition of research, commercial and policy-oriented people and organizations devoted to the sustainability of the world’s soils, and to sustainable bio-energy production. Agrichar production and utilization can renew the world’s soils through the addition of organic carbon, which can help solve the pressing problem of global climate change. The Agrichar production process also converts agricultural waste into valuable bio-fuels.

History of the Agrichar Initiative

During the 18th World Congress of Soil Science (WCSS) in July 2006 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, a group of scientists, business interests, policy experts and others met to discuss the research priorities and challenges of this important area. The result is the International Agrichar Initiative, a movement to pursue a more organized research, development and commercialization effort to further the promise of Agrichar. For information on the July 2006 meeting in Philadelphia and some current Agrichar-related projects and activities, click here.

What is the ‘Agrichar process’?

Agricultural feedstocks such as animal manure, rice hulls, peanut shells, corn stover or forest waste are pyrolized at low temperatures to produce a char product (“Agrichar” or “biochar”) and separate bio-energy streams, in the form of oils and/or gases. The biochar captures about 50% of the carbon in the feedstock, and can be used as a soil amendment to improve soil fertility, stability, and productivity, and to store carbon in the soils, as a means of mitigating global warming. The use of Agrichar in soils mimics the Terra Preta (“dark earth”) soils of the Amazon Basin, which have sequestered high quantities of carbon for thousands of years, and have dramatically improved soil fertility and sustainability without chemical inputs. The bio-energy produced, which accounts for the other 50% of feedstock carbon, can be used to fuel a variety of energy needs.
 

Offline erich

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Re: What are terra preta soils?
« Reply #15 on: 22/11/2006 21:01:57 »
Of all the Energy/Climate solutions I've seen, short of a silver bullet like Fusion or Nano-tech Solar or Thermo-electric, This integrated energy strategy offered by Terra Preta Soil technology may provide the only path to sustain our agricultural and fossil fueled power
structure without climate degradation, A wholistic approach make winners out of all the many parties involved.

After a little more checking on the availability of Agricultural grade charcoal, ( dust to 1/2 inch,
high lignin feed stock, 4%- 7% moisture, and the lower the cook temperature the better.)

Kingsford Charcoal, may occasionally, at their retorts in West VA , over produce for their bricket manufacture use and may have loads available.

A.M. Leonard , a landscape supplier has 50 lb bags for $70

The Best small scale supply is the grommet "Natural Charcoals", no binders, chemicals, or coal, you do have to grind it up.

The low cook tempts ( 400-700 F) I understand to be important because what is not completely pyrolysised helps the microorganisms populate the small spaces in the char

Brickets are cooked 1500 F

Orchid growers use 20% char in the medium for Lady slippers


I am a landscape design/builder, with other interest in Bio-fuels. I found this Terra Preta work a few months ago and have been posting it around to science forums, local academics, soil science people, local farmers, and authors of relevant news stories.

 

Offline rmark

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Re: What are terra preta soils?
« Reply #16 on: 25/11/2006 19:33:24 »
This terra preta(amazonian dark earths) type seems to have much potential to solve many problems.  From carbon sequestration of excess CO2 followed by excellent yields of crops, to soaking up excess fertiliser that is entering into our groundwater systems, and out to sea.  Creating massive dead zones, where all life is extinguished e.g. the Gulf of Mexico.  Hope it catches on.
Mark
 

Offline daveshorts

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Re: What are terra preta soils?
« Reply #17 on: 26/11/2006 17:02:35 »
Is the reason they work that you are encouraging a form of fungi in the soil that is very beneficial to crops. If this is the case this could be why they are very hard to transfer into other climates - the fungi just like south american climates/need creatures that are only avilable there.
 

Offline erich

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Re: What are terra preta soils?
« Reply #18 on: 27/11/2006 03:19:15 »
Hi Dave,
All highly productive soils share a vast mixture of fungi, microbes, flora and fauna , this intricate  web of life, at different soil horizons, would all benefit with the increased infrastructure that Char provides. More air , moisture, habitat.....................

Look at the results of tripling of yields in temperate zones like Georgia and Japan

Erich
 

Offline science_guy

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Re: What are terra preta soils?
« Reply #19 on: 29/11/2006 16:21:52 »
 :oSombody on this forum kinda dominates the number of posts :o

I personally wouldn't like all of our seas to be dead.
 

Offline erich

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Re: What are terra preta soils?
« Reply #20 on: 15/12/2006 05:53:17 »
WOW.............This is the first I've seen of a process like Dr. Danny Day's on the market:

 http://www.bestenergies.com/companies/bestpyrolysis.html
 

Offline erich

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Re: What are terra preta soils?
« Reply #21 on: 18/12/2006 20:05:02 »
I spoke with the author of a Terra Preta (TP) story in Solar Today, Ron Larson ,
 http://www.solartoday.org/2006/nov_dec06/Chairs_CornerND06.pdf
he said he spoke with a major National Geographic editor, who is preparing a big article on TP. but Doesn't know when it will be out.


Also:
In E. O. Wilson's "The Future of Life" he opens the book with a letter to Thoreau updating him on our current understanding of the nature of the ecology of the soils at Walden Pond.


" These arthropods are the giants of the microcosm (if you will allow me to continue what has turned into a short lecture). Creatures their size are present in dozens-hundreds, if an ant or termite colony is presents. But these are comparatively trivial numbers. If you focus down by a power of ten in size, enough to pick out animals barely visible to the naked eye, the numbers jump to thousands. Nematode and enchytraied pot worms, mites, springtails, pauropods, diplurans, symphylans, and tardigrades seethe in the underground. Scattered out on a white ground cloth, each crawling speck becomes a full-blown animal. Together they are far more striking and divers in appearance than snakes, mice, sparrows, and all the other vertebrates hereabouts combined. Their home is a labyrinth of miniature caves and walls of rotting vegetable debris cross-strung with ten yards of fungal threads. And they are just the surface of the fauna and flora at our feet. Keep going, keep magnifying until the eye penetrates microscopic water films on grains of sand, and there you will find ten billion bacteria in a thimbleful of soil and frass. You will have reached the energy base of the decomposer world as we understand it 150 years after you sojourn in Walden Woods."



Certainly there remains much work to just characterize all the estimated 1000 species of microbes found in a pinch of soil, and Wilson concludes at the end of the prolog that
"Now it is up to us to summon a more encompassing wisdom."

I wonder what the soil biome was REALLY like before the cutting and charcoaling of the virgin east coast forest, my guess is that now we see a severely diminished community, and that only very recent Ag practices like no-till have helped to rebuild it.

I found this study in this TP forum :http://forums.hypography.com/earth-s...-preta-26.html

First-ever estimate of total bacteria on earth
http://www.sdearthtimes.com/et0998/et0998s8.html
« Last Edit: 28/12/2006 21:31:51 by erich »
 

Offline erich

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Re: What are terra preta soils?
« Reply #22 on: 30/12/2006 21:18:40 »
RE: Nature Article --  the link given will not allow access without being a subscriber to Nature.

I posted it Before Nature started requiring a subscribing membership, here is a link to the original pdf version. The pdf version is still accessible without a membership.

http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v442/n7103/pdf/442624a.pdf
 

Offline erich

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Re: What are terra preta soils?
« Reply #23 on: 08/01/2007 06:15:28 »
Man has been controlling the carbon cycle , and there for the weather, since the invention of agriculture, all be it was as unintentional, as our current airliner contrails are in affecting global dimming. This unintentional warm stability in climate , has over 10,000 years, allowed us to develop to the point that now we know what we did and that now we are over doing it.
 
The prehistoric and historic records  gives a logical thrust for soil carbon sequestration.
I wonder what the soil biome carbon concentration was REALLY like before the cutting and charcoaling of the virgin east coast forest, my guess is that now we see a severely diminished community, and that only very recent Ag practices like no-till have started to help rebuild it. It makes implementing Terra Preta soil technology  like an act of penitence, returning misplaced carbon.
 
Energy, the carbon cycle and greenhouse gas management
 http://www.computare.org/Support%20documents/Fora%20Input/CCC2006/Energy%20Paper%2006_05.htm
 
« Last Edit: 09/01/2007 16:52:37 by erich »
 

Offline science_guy

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Re: What are terra preta soils?
« Reply #24 on: 10/01/2007 16:34:58 »
The terra preta soils would suck the extra nutrients that are dumped into the oceans.  The Phytoplankton need these nutrients in order to engage in photosynthesis, or they would die.  Being at the bottom of the food chain, it would completely and possibly irreversibly damage the ecosystem.  along with that, the co2 that is taken in by the phytoplankton is no longer going to turn into oxygen, furthing the problem of global warming.  It is not a very good choice.
 

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Re: What are terra preta soils?
« Reply #24 on: 10/01/2007 16:34:58 »

 

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