# Research

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### #1 Michaelangelica

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Posted 31 March 2008 - 04:16 AM

Friday, March 28, 2008
Washington State Biochar Research

Washington State University researchers will produce biochar (a residue potentially used as a soil amendment) from low temperature pyrolysis of biomass materials. The biochar will be tested for its potential to store carbon, evaluated for any growth effects on plants in the greenhouse, and assessed for economic impacts. Research on biochar has shown promise in long-lasting carbon storage and improved crop production. This research will be the first rigorous study of biochar use in agricultural soils in this state. (Source)

transect points: Washington State Biochar Research

transect points

...views from the ground down...

### #2 Michaelangelica

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Posted 03 May 2008 - 01:50 AM

A long list here; some very recent stuff
Biochar Fund - fighting hunger, deforestation, energy insecurity and climate change - Biochar Research

### #3 Michaelangelica

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Posted 03 May 2008 - 09:33 PM

A press release from Sweden.
Can anyone get the article it is promoting please?

SLU

SLUslu
Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences

2008-05-01
Limitations of charcoal as an effective carbon sink

Fire-derived charcoal is thought to be an important carbon sink. However, a SLU paper in Science shows that charcoal promotes soil microbes and causes a large loss of soil carbon.

There has been greatly increasing attention given to the potential of ‘biochar’, or charcoal made from biological tissues (e.g., wood) to serve as a long term sink of carbon in the soil. This is because charcoal is carbon-rich and breaks down extremely slowly, persisting in soil for thousands of years. This has led to the suggestion being seriously considered by policy makers worldwide that biochar could be produced in large quantities and stored in soils. This would in turn increase ecosystem carbon sequestration, and thereby counteract human induced increases in carbon-based greenhouse gases and help combat global warming.

However, a new study by Professors David Wardle, Marie-Charlotte Nilsson and Olle Zackrisson at SLU, the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, in Umeå, scheduled to appear in this Friday’s issue of the prestigious journal Science, suggests that these supposed benefits of biochar may be somewhat overstated. In their study, charcoal was prepared and mixed with forest soil, and left in the soil in each of three contrasting forest stands in northern Sweden for ten years.

They found that when charcoal was mixed into humus, there was a substantial increase in soil microorganisms (bacteria and fungi). These microbes carry out decomposition of organic matter (carbon) in the soil, and consistent with this, they found that charcoal caused greatly increased losses of native soil organic matter, and soil carbon, for each of the three forest stands. Much of this lost soil carbon would be released as carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas. Therefore, while it is true that charcoal represents a long term sink of carbon because of its persistence, this effect is at least partially offset by the capacity of charcoal to greatly promote the loss of that carbon already present in the soil.

The study finds that the supposed benefits of biochar in increasing ecosystem carbon storage may be overstated, at least for boreal forest soils. The effect of biochar on the loss of carbon already in the soil needs to be better understood before it can be effectively applied as a tool to mitigate human-induced increases in carbon-based greenhouse gases.

For information:

Professor David Wardle, Department of forest ecology and management, SLU (Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences) Umea, Sweden, telephone +46 90 786 84 71, +46 70 658 92 81.

E-mail: David.Wardle@svek.slu.se

Professor Marie-Charlotte Nilsson, Department of forest ecology and management, SLU (Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences) Umea, Sweden,, telephone +46 90 786 84 40, +46 70 556 66 04.

E-mail: Marie-Charlotte.Nilsson@svek.slu.se

Posted by: Sven-Olov Bylund

More news...

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SLU, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Box 7070, 750 07 UPPSALA · Phone. 018-67 10 00 · Org.nr: 202100-2817 · Contact: webbredaktionen@slu.se · About SLU - Sveriges lantbruksuniversitet

SLU - Sveriges lantbruksuniversitet

### #4 Michaelangelica

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Posted 03 May 2008 - 10:38 PM

paper for the International Agchar Initiative Conference Terrigal New South Wales. April 29 - May 2, 2007
Improving wheat production with deep banded Oil Mallee Charcoal in
Western Australia

Paul Blackwell1, Syd Shea2, Paul Storer3, Zakaria Solaiman4, Mike Kerkmans5, and Ian Stanley6
1Department of Agriculture and Food, Geraldton WA, 2 Oil Mallee Company of Australia, 3Western Mineral
Fertilisers, 4University of Western Australia, School of Earth and Geographical Sciences, 5Oil Mallee
Association of WA, 6 "Bungadale", Kalannie , WA

SUMMARY
• There can be benefits to wheat income from deep banded oil mallee charcoal in the low rainfall areas of WA; the trials on acid sandy clay loam and acid sand in 2005 showed up to $96/ha additional gross income at wheat prices of$150/ha; especially when applied with mineral fertilisers and inoculated soil microbes. Much of the yield improvement can be explained by better grain survival, associated with reduced drought stress.
• There were encouraging effects of charcoal on arbuscular mycorrhiza (AM) colonisation.
Banded oil mallee charcoal improved AM colonisation of wheat roots by 3 fold, when used with mineral fertilisers and AM is inoculated with the seed in the acid sandy clay loam with a low population of indigenous AM. Early phosphorus uptake was not improved by AM colonisation; P supply from the soil and applied fertiliser was already adequate.
• AM colonisation in spring was related to effects of charcoal application on grain survival in inoculated mineral fertiliser treatments. This infers AM hyphae may have improved water supply to reduce drought stress and loss of grains in these treatments.
• The true economic value of oil mallee charcoal will be clearer when the cost of charcoal
production and application is better known and long term effects of charcoal, especially with inoculated AMs and mineral fertilisers is better understood. The potential to achieve a commercial return from the sequestration of charcoal as an offset for carbon dioxide emissions in broadscale agriculture will also help calculate true economic value.
• More research is worthwhile on the long term effects of incorporated charcoal in a range of soil conditions and seasons, from various sources and how low the banded charcoal rate needs to be to encourage better yields from mineral fertiliser with inoculated AM.
INTRODUCTION
Oil Mallees are the first native woody perennial species to be promoted as a commercial crop

http://www.oilmallee..._wheat_prod.pdf

### #5 Essay

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Posted 04 May 2008 - 04:18 AM

A press release from Sweden.
Can anyone get the article it is promoting please?
SLU - Sveriges lantbruksuniversitet

There has been greatly increasing attention given to the potential of ‘biochar’, or charcoal made from biological tissues (e.g., wood) to serve as a long term sink of carbon in the soil. This is because charcoal is carbon-rich and breaks down extremely slowly, persisting in soil for thousands of years. This has led to the suggestion being seriously considered by policy makers worldwide that biochar could be produced in large quantities and stored in soils. This would in turn increase ecosystem carbon sequestration, and thereby counteract human induced increases in carbon-based greenhouse gases and help combat global warming.

However, a new study by Professors David Wardle, Marie-Charlotte Nilsson and Olle Zackrisson at SLU, the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, in Umeå, scheduled to appear in this Friday’s issue of the prestigious journal Science, suggests that these supposed benefits of biochar may be somewhat overstated. In their study, charcoal was prepared and mixed with forest soil, and left in the soil in each of three contrasting forest stands in northern Sweden for ten years.

They found that when charcoal was mixed into humus, there was a substantial increase in soil microorganisms (bacteria and fungi). These microbes carry out decomposition of organic matter (carbon) in the soil, and consistent with this, they found that charcoal caused greatly increased losses of native soil organic matter, and soil carbon, for each of the three forest stands.

very interesting.....

Let us pause and reflect on the meaning here.

In both of the previous posts (the high-organic forest soil, & the sandy acidic desert soil) the addition of char increases microbial nutrient cycling, and microbial mass.

Forests are already high carbon soils and should not be expected to store additional CO2.
Marginal soils; sandy, acidic, leached, and/or parched, are the soils where adding char will sequester CO2 (at least fourfold, IMO) over the original carbon content of the char; while providing new agricultural and recycling opportunities for the populations in those marginal (poverty prone) areas.

AgriChar can and should be managed, as should all powerful tools, to minimize pollution and resource loss, while also maximizing sequestration, resource enhancement, and support for populations.

Terra Preta is an example of using char in a unique jungle environment; but TP (or any Char supplementation) can be adapted to sequester carbon in many other soil types and environments, given enough water.

### #6 freeztar

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Posted 05 May 2008 - 02:47 PM

A press release from Sweden.
Can anyone get the article it is promoting please?

You can purchase it here for US $10. Science/AAAS | Science Magazine: Sign In I would love to see it as well. I wonder if they measured the above-ground biomass increase relative to a nearby control area? In other words, how do they know that the loss of carbon in the soil is not offset by the gain in carbon in the forest's flora? Did they measure actual CO2 levels on the surface? So many questions... ### #7 Michaelangelica Michaelangelica Creating • Members • 7797 posts Posted 11 May 2008 - 01:20 PM You can purchase it here for US$10.

I would love to see it as well. I wonder if they measured the above-ground biomass increase relative to a nearby control area? In other words, how do they know that the loss of carbon in the soil is not offset by the gain in carbon in the forest's flora? Did they measure actual CO2 levels on the surface? So many questions...

This is part of my post to the TP list on the article.

We know soil bacteria and fungi produce about 90% of the world's natural CO2 and that charcoal hastens the decomposition of SOM
Hungry Microbes Share Out The Carbon In The Roots Of Plants
and

Carbon 'released, not stored' by soil
Tuesday, 20 March 2007

We have come along way, in 10 years, from this:-

CSIRO MEDIA RELEASE 97/58
3 April 1997

LEGACY OF A THOUSAND BUSHFIRES

Australia's soil is even poorer than was thought, says CSIRO Land and Water researcher Jan Skjemstad. Much of our small supply of carbon - an essential element in fertile soil - is in the form of useless charcoal, resulting from tens of thousands of years of bushfires.

"The charcoal is mostly carbon, but it is in a form which can't be used by plants or soil organisms," said Mr Skjemstad.

Wild fire a major driver of C in your forests ? With fires every 350-100,000 years ago? Australia should be so lucky! We would rarely go more than a dozen years before burning forests (especially prior to European settlement).

What is not addressed in your paper is the C02 holding proprieties of things like Soil Algae, bacteria and AMF like glomalin which in association with plant roots promotes growth and locks C into the soil. In itself glomalin is 30-40% Carbon. It is sad to hold up to a third of the word's carbon.
Glomalin hiding place for a third of the world's stored soil carbon | Agricultural Research | Find Articles at BNET.com
I gather your experimental bags were not in intimate contact with soil root and would thus produce little glomalin, So CO2 cycling from SOM (your 'humus') could be much faster.
Also bacteria are said to contain about 50% dry weight carbon. Lehmann and others have suggested charcoal provides protective "housing" for bacteria. Less predation thus leads to higher bacterial growth in the soil.

You might also be interested in this email

As to the 'wee beasties' or 'critters' as I like to call them, we have made progress on this front over the last several years. Brendan O'Neill and Julie Grossman in my laboratory, Sui Mai Tsai, our Brazilian collaborator at CENA and the University of Sao Paulo, and Biqing Liang, and many others in Johannes Lehmann's laboratory have been characterizing microbial populations in three different terra preta soils and comparing these to the adjacent, unmodified soils near by to them.
Brendan found that populations of culturable bacteria and fungi are higher in the terra preta soils, as compared to the unmodified soils, in all cases.
Yet, Biqing found that the respiratory activity of these populations is lower (see Liang et al., 2006), even when fresh organic matter is added.
This alone means that the turnover of organic matter is slower in the terra preta soils - suggesting that the presence of black C in the terra pretas is helping to stabilize labile organic matter and is itself not turning over in the short term.
All good news for C sequestration.
However, since the respiratory activity is lower (slower decomposition), this may lead to slower release of other mineral nutrient associated with the fresh organic inputs.
In some circumstances this is a good thing (maintaining nutrient release over the growing season),
in other circumstances (more immobilization), perhaps not.
We need more work on this to understand the implications of these results more fully.

http://hypography.co...html#post205346

Some questions
You say "Boreal forests serve as important global sinks of carbon" I thought the jury was still out (-or not, yet, sent out?) on this. I have only seen one paper saying this; and many others saying the only 'carbon-forest-sinks' are those in the tropics.

* Was there any ash in the charcoal you used?
* What was the C % of the humus.
* what was the pH of you charcoal and your soil? Did this change over time?
* Was there any increased plant growth?
* Wouldn't leaching of soluble compounds be more likely to be less, (not more, as you suggest) with Char given its adsorption properties?
* Could you please comment on figure 'D" in your paper. Where is the N? and where is it coming from?

Wish List
You paper address an important issue. Like most research it throws up more questions than it answers.

* It would be nice to deign a closed loop experiment controlling as many variables as possible and placing char in soil more naturally. This might need little "space capsules" around each tree as is happening in long-term research on trees at the University of Western Sydney. Unfortunately they are not looking at Charcoal's role in the soil.
* It would be nice to look at nitrous oxide emissions for example. A far more potent greenhouse gas than CO2.Nitrous Oxide: Forgotten Greenhouse Gas No Laughing Matter | Scientific Blogging
* It would be nice to see how much C was captured by increased tree growth and soil AMF/bacteria, fungi etc encouraged by the presence of different amounts of charcoal.
* It would be nice if this charcoal could me mixed with soil in a more natural way.
* it would be nice to see how interacting pHs of all components in the experimental recipe effect each other.
* 50% char to humus seems high. What would 5-10% do?
* it would be nice to know the response of mycorrhizal fungi to biochar.

While I realise researchers need to simplify and control variables in research I have long argued here, and in other forums, that Terra preta Farming/gardening needs to be seen in a Gestalt. A dynamic interaction between charcoal (ground up and put in the soil by humans), Soil SOM will need to be constantly added, terracotta, fish, fishbones bones and other wastes (river algae?) are also part of the mix.
Why are Terra preta soils said to "grow" by native Amazonian Indians? Is this because of the increased soil life or has the Amazon got some special "wee beasties" in its soil?

I didn't know where to put this in Hypography but thought it should be put somewhere.
If anyone has any small, unused ponds could you please post them to Australia?

Small ponds absorb as much carbon as oceans
May 9th, 2008 - 11:27 am ICT by admin - Email This Post Email This Post

Washington, May 9 (IANS) Ponds around the world can absorb as much carbon as the world’s oceans, according to the latest study, good news for attempts to tackle climate change.
For example, ponds and lakes on US farmland alone bury carbon 20 to 50 fold more than trees trap carbon. In addition, ponds were found to take up carbon at a higher rate than larger lakes.
. . .
“The combined effect is that farm ponds could be burying as much carbon as the world’s oceans each year.”

Small ponds absorb as much carbon as oceans - Thaindian News

### #8 Essay

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Posted 11 May 2008 - 06:06 PM

While I realise researchers need to simplify and control variables in research I have long argued here, and in other forums, that Terra preta Farming/gardening needs to be seen in a Gestalt. A dynamic interaction between charcoal (ground up and put in the soil by humans), Soil SOM will need to be constantly added, terracotta, fish, fishbones bones and other wastes (river algae?) are also part of the mix.
Why are Terra preta soils said to "grow" by native Amazonian Indians? Is this because of the increased soil life or has the Amazon got some special "wee beasties" in its soil?

Michael-a, great post (and I've still more to read), AND your point is well taken, although I don't think there is any special microbe; the key is adding more organic matter, as you say.

My point is to say that one concept, or Gestalt(?), will unite all these questions and observations (I think).

It is the microbial biomass itself that is the variable to focus on.

That is where the Carbon (from CO2) is stored.
That is why water is critical to the final result (CO2 sink or source).

Soil = digested (mostly microbial biomass) biomass.

p.s. I'm sure some microbes are better than others at nutrient release, etc. but it's just their growth that adds to the soil mass. IMHO

### #9 Michaelangelica

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Posted 11 May 2008 - 07:24 PM

Soil = digested (mostly microbial biomass) biomass.

Well said! In the sparse style of a new Hemingway!
I would add some humus (a mere 3%or- in Oz!!) O wait that's mostly digested biomass anyway. I take that back.
and ground up or spewed out rocks (various sizes.).
So the new equation becomes
Soil = digested biomass + rock
or for the mathematicians:-
S=B+R

### #10 Michaelangelica

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Posted 09 June 2008 - 03:43 AM

It is the microbial biomass itself that is the variable to focus on.

That is where the Carbon (from CO2) is stored.
That is why water is critical to the final result (CO2 sink or source).

Soil = digested (mostly microbial biomass) biomass.

p.s. I'm sure some microbes are better than others at nutrient release, etc. but it's just their growth that adds to the soil mass. IMHO

Yes, I am coming more and more to this point of view.

Weed dynamics on Amazonian Dark Earth and adjacent soils of Brazil [An article from: Agriculture, Ecosystems and Environment] [HTML] (Digital)
by J. Major (Author), A. DiTommaso (Author), J. Lehmann (Author), N.P.S. Falcao (Author)

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### #11 Michaelangelica

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Posted 15 July 2008 - 04:02 AM

A pdf File on CEC
Black Carbon Increases Cation Exchange Capacity in Soils -- Liang et al. 70 (5): 1719 -- Soil Science Society of America Journal

Black Carbon Increases Cation Exchange Capacity in Soils
B. Liang, J. Lehmann,* D. Solomon, J. Kinyangi, J. Grossman, B. O’Neill, J. O. Skjemstad, J. Thies, F. J. Luiza˜o,
J. Petersen, and E. G. Neves
In Memory of James Petersen
Dr. James Petersen was killed during an armed robbery while

### #12 Michaelangelica

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Posted 23 July 2008 - 12:30 AM

Interesting large collection of research papers from SE Asia
Search Result

This was good on making home made char and application rates
Application of Rice Husk Charcoal

Also this on wee beasties
Extensive researches on soil-rhizosphere processes have shown that a very small proportion of rhizosphere soil is of critical importance for plant growth and health. The soil-rhizosphere zones occupied less than 5-7% volume of the upper 15 cm surface soil in a vegetable field.
Designing sustainable management practices that focus on rhizosphere soil is more efficient and cost-effective for improving crop productivity with fewer agrochemical inputs.
The innovative Starter Solution Technology (SST) for applying nutrients directly to the soil-rhizosphere system is proposed in this paper. The SST reduces fertilizer application, increases vegetable yields, decreases fertilizer residues in the soil and is simple to apply.
Other practices for managing the fertility of rhizosphere soil, such as supplying nutrients through drip irrigation, applying organic fertilizers and bio-charcoals to increase soil-buffering capacity and localized amendment as strategies for problem soils are also discussed.
All of the proposed management practices can be easily adopted by Asian farmers.
Lehmann et al. (2006) has proposed a new approach to carbon sequestration in terrestrial ecosystems through the application of biomass-derived charcoal (bio-charcoal) onto soil. Bio-charcoal such as burnt rice husk, can act
as a soil conditioner enhancing plant growth by supplying and, more importantly, retaining nutrients and improving
soil physical and biological properties (Lehmann & Rondon 2006).
Bio-charcoal is more resistant to decomposition and can remain in the soil for many years.
Higher nutrient retention and nutrient availability were found after charcoal additions to soil; this was related to higher exchange capacity, surface area and direct nutrient addition from
charcoal (Glaser et al. 2002).

Not all agricultural waste materials are suitable for producing bio-charcoal with the exception of rice
husks (FFTC 2001), which have high concentrations of silica entrapping C during combustion. The rice husk ash also contains other mineral nutrients such as Ca, Mg, Fe, Mn and K. Application of bio-charcoal is a new technology to
ameliorate components as soil colloid particles and increase soil fertility in the soil-rhizosphere system.

Fertility Management of the Soil-Rhizosphere System for Efficient Fertilizer Use in Vegetable Production

### #13 erich

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Posted 21 December 2008 - 01:07 AM

Hopefully all the Biochar companies will coordinate with Dr. Jeff Novak's soils work at ARS;

ARS : Jeffrey M Novak

PRODUCTION OF LOW AND HIGH TEMPERATURE BIOCHARS FROM CROP FEEDSTOCKS
Nonfunded Cooperative Agreement (N)
Accession Number: 414995
ARS Project: PRODUCTION OF LOW AND HIGH TEMPERATURE BIOCHARS FROM CROP FEEDSTOCKS (414995)

DESIGNER BIOCHAR DEVELOPMENT AS A SOIL AMENDMENT
Nonfunded Cooperative Agreement (N)
Accession Number: 413344
ARS Project: DESIGNER BIOCHAR DEVELOPMENT AS A SOIL AMENDMENT (413344)

DEVELOPMENT OF DESIGNER BIOCHAR TO REMEDIATE DEGRADED COASTAL PLAIN SOILS
Nonfunded Cooperative Agreement (N)
Accession Number: 414939
ARS Project: DEVELOPMENT OF DESIGNER BIOCHAR TO REMEDIATE DEGRADED COASTAL PLAIN SOILS (414939)

### #14 Michaelangelica

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Posted 28 December 2008 - 04:09 AM

Nothing new or earth shattering but. . .

Abstract

Abstract  The International Panel on Climate Change distinguished three main options for the mitigation of atmospheric CO2 concentrations by the agricultural sector: (1) reduction of agriculture-related emissions, (2) creation and strengthening of C sinks in the soil, and (3) production of biofuels to replace fossil fuels.
Options for sustained sequestration of C in the soil through adapted management of land resources are reviewed in the context of the ongoing discussion on the need to reduce greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere.
Enhanced sequestration of atmospheric CO2 in the soil, ultimately as stable humus, may well prove a more lasting solution than (temporarily) sequestering CO2 in the standing biomass through reforestation and afforestation.
Such actions will also help to reverse processes of land degradation, thus contributing to sustained food productivity and security for the people in the regions concerned.

http://www.metapress...r53g04kqf662m3/

### #15 Michaelangelica

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Posted 28 December 2008 - 04:10 AM

Nothing new or earth shattering but. . .

Abstract

Abstract  The International Panel on Climate Change distinguished three main options for the mitigation of atmospheric CO2 concentrations by the agricultural sector:

• (1) reduction of agriculture-related emissions,
• (2) creation and strengthening of C sinks in the soil, and
• (3) production of biofuels to replace fossil fuels.

Options for sustained sequestration of C in the soil through adapted management of land resources are reviewed in the context of the ongoing discussion on the need to reduce greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere.

Enhanced sequestration of atmospheric CO2 in the soil, ultimately as stable humus, may well prove a more lasting solution than (temporarily) sequestering CO2 in the standing biomass through reforestation and afforestation.

Such actions will also help to reverse processes of land degradation, thus contributing to sustained food productivity and security for the people in the regions concerned.

MetaPress - Journal Article

### #16 erich

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Posted 01 January 2009 - 10:30 PM

Why ‘Rainbow Bee Eater’?

The Rainbow Bee Eater is a beautiful bird that survives in some of the harshest environments in Australia. Its habitat overlaps most of the area that could provide large carbon capture and storage opportunities in Australia.

The photo of this bird exploding from its nest is also a metaphor of the rapidity with which carbon capture and storage using biochar could make a major contribution to reducing carbon emissions while at the same time causing the reversal of environmental, social and economic decline of regional Australia.

PROJECT RAINBOW BEE EATER – CALL FOR FEDERAL GOVERNMENT SUPPORT FOR BIOCHAR

http://jennifermaroh...bon-as-biochar/

### #17 erich

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Posted 03 January 2009 - 11:14 PM

Hi List,

Nice review of William M. Denevan. 2001. Cultivated Landscapes of Native Amazonia and the Andes. Oxford University Press, 2001.
Charles C. Mann's inspiration , the "the real Indiana Jones"

Cultivated Landscapes of Native Amazonia and the Andes History of Western Landscapes