Terra Preta, the "black earth," was made from biochar by indigenous peoples of the Amazon basin centuries ago. Using Terra Preta, the indigenous cultures were able to improve the nutrient-poor soil of the rainforest and keep it permanently fertile. That in itself is impressive.

The soil in the Amazon basin is actually not suitable for agriculture. At first glance, tropical soils appear to be very fertile, as they produce an enormous variety of plants and animals. However, they only have a thin layer of humus. If the rainforest is cleared, the humus is broken down in a very short time and the nutrients are washed away with the abundant rain. Terra Preta enabled these early indigenous cultures to build up the humus layer and thus keep the soil permanently fertile for agriculture.

Terra Preta as storage

Due to its porous structure, biochar has a large surface area. This means it can store water and nutrients particularly well. Terra Preta binds carbon in the soil for a long time instead of releasing it into the atmosphere.

What you can achieve with biochar:

  • Increase water storage capacity and improve water balance in the soil.
  • Improve soil and maintain soil fertility over longer periods
  • Storing carbon dioxide in the soil
  • The improved soil structure allows trees to absorb nutrients more efficiently and grow healthier.

You can find more information about fertilizing trees in this article.

How is Terra Preta made?

Terra Preta is often produced through pyrolysis: branches and logs are chopped up and carbonized in a carbonization plant at temperatures between 450 and 600 degrees Celsius. This means that more carbon remains bound in the coal, which can then be introduced into the soil.

Recommended reading

Terra Preta. The black revolution from the rainforest. Save the world with climate gardens and produce healthy food. Published by the foundation community anstiftung & ertomis Oekom.

Additional information

This one Link to the Biochar Association 

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