Jump to content


Photo
- - - - -

Terra Preta - The parent thread which started it all


  • This topic is locked This topic is locked
429 replies to this topic

#1 coldhead

coldhead

    Thinking

  • Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 33 posts

Posted 04 August 2005 - 04:06 AM

A while ago I saw on tv a show about the above.

It is patches of extremelly fertile soils in areas in south america, around the amazon, that where cultivated for ages before any european apperance. As the locals died off rather quickly after exposure to the europeans, not much scientific/real knowledege exists about this 'soil'.

The tv show had a local that stated that he and his family had been selling this black soil for ages and it just kept on growing.

The blurb from the show mentioned there was charcole added to the mix.

Any hypographers heard of this stuff?
Would adding chrcole to the mix of my mulch help me?
Should I be commerciallizing this new breakthrough?

#2 Fishteacher73

Fishteacher73

    Coincidence of Molecules

  • Members
  • 1,646 posts

Posted 04 August 2005 - 09:51 AM

The problem with biomes such as tropical rain forests and tropical reefs is that there is such an abundance of life that the nutrients available are all used IN the life and the soil/water is VERY nutrient poor. The standard method in the Amazon is the "slash and burn". This is when the forresty is cut and burned prior to cultivation (the source of charcoal). This returns all the various nutrients stored in the plant diversity to the soil. The problem is when the crops are harvested, the nutients are then removed with the crop and reasonably infertile soil is left. This sounds like a poorly researched and biased show that this came from. The only real way to allow for farm land to stay fertile is either through artificial fertilization (not the best) or a cycle of crop rotation and allowing fallow periods upon the field.

#3 UncleAl

UncleAl

    Creating

  • Members
  • 1,212 posts

Posted 04 August 2005 - 10:19 AM

Would adding chrcole to the mix of my mulch help me?

I always add activated charcoal to potting mix. It's inexpensive by the bag. Cacti and epiphytes are especially appreciative. You want a porous fraction in soil anyway - sand, pearlite - to aid aeration and drainage. As in an aquarium water filter, activated charcoal provides a porous, high surface area matrix for biology to happen and reach equilibrium.

#4 Turtle

Turtle

    Member

  • Members
  • 14,863 posts

Posted 04 August 2005 - 04:52 PM

I always add activated charcoal to potting mix. It's inexpensive by the bag. Cacti and epiphytes are especially appreciative. You want a porous fraction in soil anyway - sand, pearlite - to aid aeration and drainage. As in an aquarium water filter, activated charcoal provides a porous, high surface area matrix for biology to happen and reach equilibrium.

___Good info Al. Activated charcoal is charcoal that is high heated in the absense of oxygen thus driving off volatile contaminants & leaving more porosity. Activated charcoal operates by not obsorption, but adsorption. Besides aeration, activated charcoal binds many organic chemicals such as chlorine & others found in pesticides.
___Over time, activated charcoal is used up because all the cavities have filled. Periodically float the particles to the top of soil & discard, then add new.

#5 coldhead

coldhead

    Thinking

  • Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 33 posts

Posted 05 August 2005 - 07:33 AM

Stink time...

amazon info page - half way down
http://www.internext....br/roosmale/#D

whole page.
http://www.geo.uni-b...de/terra_preta/

#6 Turtle

Turtle

    Member

  • Members
  • 14,863 posts

Posted 05 August 2005 - 09:17 AM

___Do I understand then Terra Preta is not an intentional product of the Amazon's acient inhabitants, but rather the result of their garbage piles? Is that the stink joke?
Do you know have any skeletal remains shown up in Terra Preta? :)

#7 coldhead

coldhead

    Thinking

  • Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 33 posts

Posted 05 August 2005 - 05:23 PM

Is that the stink joke?

that is a reference to another thread.

Nobody is shure because the locals died off rather quickly.

Quote from another site.
http://www.geocities...htold/gbtp.html

What is Terra Preta ?

Terra Preta (or: Red Indian Black Soil) is an anthropogenically (man made) modified, fertile soil, which has developed in small patterns from the unfertile Latosols (Oxisols) in the Amazon lowlands. Influence of man is shown by abundance of many artefacts (ceramics) of prekolumbian Indians, which have been living in these areas some + 2000 years.

It is not absolutely sure, if primarily Terra Preta existed and Indians selected these sites because of their fertility, or if Indians have 'modified' the soils of their dwelling sites by mulching and compost.

In soil terms, Terra Preta is to be defined as a subtype of Latosol, which has a high till very high C content (more than 13-14 % organic matter) in its A horizon, but without hydromorphic characteristics. Organic matter can be found in depths of 1 and 2 m (e.g. at 50 cm depth, 5.1 % OM). The author made the proposal to talk of TP only, if OM content at 50 cm depth is of more than 2.0 or 2.5 %.

#8 danielled330

danielled330

    Curious

  • Members
  • 3 posts

Posted 01 February 2006 - 12:14 PM

Is that the stink joke?

I'm studying terra preta at the moment and its found to be the most consistently fertile soil on earth! A combination of the slash-burn technique, human waste and for some reason (as yet undiscovered) pottery urns in which they buried their dead, raised the soil organic matter. This SOM is more stable than other soils and can be repeatedly cultivated without losing fertility. Thats why locals in brazil sell it, its super soil basically.
Large civilizations were found to have existed in areas where terra preta is found, supported agriculturally by the soil.

Check this link out
http://www.bbc.co.uk.../eldorado.shtml

#9 Turtle

Turtle

    Member

  • Members
  • 14,863 posts

Posted 11 April 2006 - 04:12 AM

A while ago I saw on tv a show about the above.

It is patches of extremelly fertile soils in areas in south america, around the amazon, that where cultivated for ages before any european apperance. As the locals died off rather quickly after exposure to the europeans, not much scientific/real knowledege exists about this 'soil'.

The tv show had a local that stated that he and his family had been selling this black soil for ages and it just kept on growing.

The blurb from the show mentioned there was charcole added to the mix.

Any hypographers heard of this stuff?
Would adding chrcole to the mix of my mulch help me?
Should I be commerciallizing this new breakthrough?


I just watched this show on the Science Channel. 2005 date on it. The title & first half of the hour long show focussed on a 1542 Spanish explorer's account of wide spred populations on the Amazon & tributaries, and the second half focussed on terra preta.
Fishteacher mentioned slash & burn as unsustainable, but the show explained that the current practice reduces all to ash, wheras controlled burning to charcoal leaves...well, charcoal. The charcoal is thought to hold the nutrients (by adsorption) from washing away.
More than just a charcoal rich soil, the show closed with the ongoing catalogueing of the thousands of different micro-organisms in the soil in the search for what is responsible for the stuff apparently 'regrowing'.
At the least, add activated charcoal to your garden ay? At's wut it's all aboot.:xx:

#10 Michaelangelica

Michaelangelica

    Creating

  • Members
  • 7,797 posts

Posted 22 April 2006 - 03:48 AM

This is a very good article on terra preta soils " saving soil as well as the planet" an amazing article with a lot of implications for climate control, global warming as well as agriculture
http://www.bidstrup.com/carbon.htm

The question now seems to be "Are their special microrganisms that keep terra preta soil fertile?"
or
"Can anyone achive Terra preta soil by adding 30-40 carbon to the soil?"
+ some pottery fragments?

Cornell Uni is doing a lot of reseach on this at the moment.
The whole thing is a very big deal with amazing consequenses for us all.
Check out the terra prata home site + Cornell Uni.'s site
Michael

#11 Michaelangelica

Michaelangelica

    Creating

  • Members
  • 7,797 posts

Posted 22 April 2006 - 03:50 AM

[quote name='Michaelangelica']This is a very good article on terra preta soils " saving soil as well as the planet" an amazing article with a lot of implications for climate control, global warming as well as agriculture
http://www.bidstrup.com/carbon.htm

The question now seems to be "Are their special microrganisms that keep terra preta soil fertile?"
or
"Can anyone achive Terra preta soil by adding 30-40 carbon to the soil?"
+ some pottery fragments?

Cornell Uni is doing a lot of reseach on this at the moment.
The whole thing is a very big deal with amazing consequenses for us all.
Check out the terra prata home site + Cornell Uni.'s site
Michael
["Be wary of health books ,
you might die of a misprint"
Mark Twain]

#12 Turtle

Turtle

    Member

  • Members
  • 14,863 posts

Posted 23 April 2006 - 07:42 PM

This is a very good article on terra preta soils " saving soil as well as the planet" an amazing article with a lot of implications for climate control, global warming as well as agriculture
http://www.bidstrup.com/carbon.htm

["Be wary of health books ,
you might die of a misprint"
Mark Twain]


Thanks for the link; I have bookmarked it for further reading. I have also started adding 'horticultural charcoal' (from the bag label) to my garden soil in small amounts beneath each seed/seed bed.
:phones:

#13 Michaelangelica

Michaelangelica

    Creating

  • Members
  • 7,797 posts

Posted 24 April 2006 - 12:43 AM

Thanks for your post.
You can find more info on Terra preta here;
http://groups.google...6c5695c39ea5d7c
and here:
http://www.bbc.co.uk.../eldorado.shtml.

I bought some horticultural charchol added it to my orchid mix (which the pack recommends). However it was expensive so I bought some BBQ charchol cheaper, but still dearer than I think it should be. ( It comes from Malaysia- from their rainforests?)I note in the article I mentioned in my previous post; that the charchol used in Terra preta soils was very fine, ground up, with few bits over1/2inch so, I have been bashing the BBQ charcol with a brick and it breaks up rather well. I have been adding this to my potting mix; then giving it a liquid fertiliser.

There may be a biological component to Terra preta soils. It may contain some unique microorganisms; reseach is away at Cornell Uni on this now.
I thought I would add a little sugar to the mix to see if this encouraged bacterial growth. Probably not a great idea but I have a couple of "control" pots and will see what happens.

I found a company called "Barmac" that sells activated charchol that is very fine and can be sprayed on turf. They have been selling it for years to professional greenkeepers and say it helps seed germination and will soak up a pesticide spill. That is their major sales pitch. I am not sure what the difference is between "activated" charchol and charchol.Do you?

I note bio-dynamic gardeners use a soil innoculant that they make from cow manure; burried in a cow horn for some months then mixed with water and sprinkled on the soil. I wonder if they are adding important microflora to the soil? There would certainly be lots of bacteria in the long, involved digestive processes of a cow.
I also know that professional Rose growers swear that cow manure is the ONLY fertiliser to use for good rose growth.

I have also been researching "horticultural clay". The Terra preta soils were full of pottery shards. Horticultural clay seems to be used mainly in hydroponic systems. It does have a fine porous structure and might provide a good home for bacteria or it might trap fertiliser. I think it could be some sort of catalyst to the whole tera preta dynamic.

Just a few thoughts.
I hope you find this topic as facinating as I do. You must try to see the BBC, TV show on this; it is a facinating archeological detective story.

Hope your plants grow well !
Michael

#14 Turtle

Turtle

    Member

  • Members
  • 14,863 posts

Posted 24 April 2006 - 01:43 AM

There may be a biological component to Terra preta soils. It may contain some unique microorganisms; reseach is away at Cornell Uni on this now.
I thought I would add a little sugar to the mix to see if this encouraged bacterial growth. Probably not a great idea but I have a couple of "control" pots and will see what happens.

... I am not sure what the difference is between "activated" charchol and charchol.Do you?

I have also been researching "horticultural clay". The Terra preta soils were full of pottery shards. Horticultural clay seems to be used mainly in hydroponic systems. It does have a fine porous structure and might provide a good home for bacteria or it might trap fertiliser. I think it could be some sort of catalyst to the whole tera preta dynamic.

Just a few thoughts.
I hope you find this topic as facinating as I do. You must try to see the BBC, TV show on this; it is a facinating archeological detective story.

Hope your plants grow well !
Michael

First last: The show I mention may be a BBC production, so I may have seen the one you have.:naughty:
I don't have any info on horticultural clays, but pottery shards if from fired pottery isn't very porous & less so if glazed.
Yes I know what makes 'activated' charcoal different. It is charcoal heated to high temperature in the absence of oxygen. This drives off the volatile elements & leaves more cavities in the carbon. The 'activity' of carbon is adsorption, not to be confused with 'absorption'.
http://en.wikipedia....wiki/Adsorption
I did understand from the show that a micro-organism component is suspected but not yet isolated; looking forward to an update on the Cornell research.
Very interesting topic yes.:phones:

#15 Michaelangelica

Michaelangelica

    Creating

  • Members
  • 7,797 posts

Posted 24 April 2006 - 02:14 AM

So would Amazonian Natives have access to 'activated carbon'? Would the temperatures in pottery kilns be high enough to make the charcoal become activated? the research doesn't seem to make clear what sort of carbon we are talking about.
If 'activated' has more cavities; wouldn't this be a good thing?

The pottery thing:
I was thinking terracotta type pots. Again the research does not say if pots were glazed or porous. Just that thousands of shards where found associated with the Terra preta soils but no where else!?
Many of the shards where from vast storage jars.

Mmmm ?!?!??
I am sure we will here more soon. It's all very puzzeling and facinating.
The implications for farming, gardening and global warming are immense.

Thanks for your post
Michael

#16 Michaelangelica

Michaelangelica

    Creating

  • Members
  • 7,797 posts

Posted 24 April 2006 - 02:15 AM

[quote name='Michaelangelica']So would Amazonian Natives have access to 'activated carbon'? Would the temperatures in pottery kilns be high enough to make the charcoal become activated? the research doesn't seem to make clear what sort of carbon we are talking about.
If 'activated' has more cavities; wouldn't this be a good thing?

The pottery thing:
I was thinking terracotta type pots. Again the research does not say if pots were glazed or porous. Just that thousands of shards where found associated with the Terra preta soils but no where else!?
Many of the shards where from vast storage jars.

Mmmm ?!?!??
I am sure we will here more soon. It's all very puzzeling and facinating.
The implications for farming, gardening and global warming are immense.

Thanks for your post
Michael

[If leeks you like but do their smell dislike, eat onions and you shall not smell the leek. If you of onions would the scent expel, eat garlic, that shall drown the onion smell. But against garlic’s savour if you smart, I know one recipe. What’s that? A fart.- olde english rhyme]

#17 Turtle

Turtle

    Member

  • Members
  • 14,863 posts

Posted 24 April 2006 - 02:26 AM

[quote name='Michaelangelica'][quote name='Michaelangelica']So would Amazonian Natives have access to 'activated carbon'? Would the temperatures in pottery kilns be high enough to make the charcoal become activated? the research doesn't seem to make clear what sort of carbon we are talking about.
If 'activated' has more cavities; wouldn't this be a good thing?
[/QUOTE]

Kiln temps high enough, yes. I don't have any knowledge on whether Amazonians purposefully manufactured activated charcoal.
More cavities=better in terms of how long the adsorption continues without further application of charcoal. Once the cavities have all filled, the charcoal is in effect 'used up' until or unless some other process releases it. Simple charcoal from a fireplace still adsorbs; breaking into smaller pieces increase surface area & so efficacy.:phones: