Reference Sources: Amazonian Dark Earths, Terra
Preta de Indio
Donna Lynk, NCSU Horticulture HS 403 2008
can download this document as a .pdf file here
BBC Horizon The Secret of El
Dorado May 16, 2007 Watch this Program!! 49 min -
There is a link on my website "Terra Preta" page.
This documentary program chronicles the search for large
prehistoric civilizations in the jungle of Amazonia and
discovery of the Terra Preta de Indio soils that made them
possible. The beginning segments lay the foundation for the
historical and archeological argument for vast settled
populations practicing large-scale agriculture as reported by
Francisco de Orellana in 1542. Retracing the expedition route
of Orellana in his quest for El Dorado, famed City of Gold,
new evidence points to highly successful and complex
societies. Clearly shown are the excavated Terra Preta
horizons and the underlying matrix of native ferrasols from
which the Indians produced some of the world’s best soil
from the world’s worst. The extent of the managed soil of
Terra Preta is mapped, estimated to cover twice the area of
Great Britain, perhaps 10% of Amazonian land showing evidence
of ancient management. Modern experimental test plots
graphically demonstrate the fertility and dynamism with the
addition of the Terra Preta principle component, Biochar or
agrichar, to the soil.. Of particular interest to me, this
program features the very researchers whose names are so
familiar as I conduct my inquiry into Terra Preta.
Cornell University Terra Preta Home and ‘Science Brief’
Home page for Cornell University’s Dr. Johannes Lehman,
Soil Biogeochemistry . Dr. Lehmann is a leading researcher
into ADE and the use of Biochar in Agriculture.
‘Science Brief’ link provides an excellent summary of
the research into Terra Preta, outlining applications for Soil
Fertility, Carbon sequestration and production of Bio-energy. http://www.css.cornell.edu/faculty/lehmann/terra_preta/Flyer%20terra%20preta%20landuse%20strategy.pdf
Site of sustainable producers of Biochar and Bio-energy from
peanut biomass in Georgia.
Flash animation biomass-CO2- Carbon cycle Must see, brief flow
chart cradle to cradle carbon cycle
Information about biochar and Terra Preta, love the
“The charcoal acts like a coral reef for soil organisms
and fungi, creating a rich micro ecosystem where organic
carbon is bound to minerals to form rich soil”.
Glaser, B. et al, “The ‘Terra Preta’ phenomenon: a
model for sustainable agriculture in the humid
tropics” Naturwissenschaften Volume 88, Number
1/ Feb. 2001: 37- 41 http://www.springerlink.com/content/ch88m96jtrfrj4gk
Online abstract emphasis on the role and stability of black
carbon in TP soils, short, sweet and informative.
Reference Sources: Amazonian Dark Earths, Terra
Preta de Indio p.2
Lehmann, Johannes, Dirse C. Kern, Bruno Glaser, and William I.
Woods (eds). 2003.
my own desire to create my own ‘Terra Preta Nova’ using
the principles of the ancients.
Amazonian Dark Earths: Origin, Properties, Management.
Publishers, Dordrecht, Netherlands. The Forward. Written by
This book, published in 2003, is the first book to be
written on the subject of Amazonian Dark Earths. This speaks
to the fact that research into this ancient soil is quite new.
(According to the NCSU due date record it has been checked out
only once, in 2004!) It is edited by Dr. Johannes Lehmann,
Cornell University and contributed to by over 50 authors. I
found the forward by Wim Sombroek
Lang, Susan “Simpler way to counter global warming explained:
Lock up carbon in soil
and use bioenergy exhaust gases for energy” Cornell
Chronicle May 11, 2007 Cornell University
This article is focused on the benefits of long term carbon
sink by pyrolysis and sequestration. Outlines biomass
Liang, B. et al. Black Carbon Increases Cation Exchange
Capacity in Soils , 2006.
On-line abstract discussing the benefits of BC, Black Carbon
in soil. The idea of ‘increased surfaces’ in the soil was
very interesting, and speaks to the permaculture idea of ‘edges’
being the most productive area.
Marris, Emma, “Putting the Carbon Back: Black is the new
green.” Nature 442 Aug. 10, 2006
Great article, If you read only one, read this one. Brief
history of Terra Preta, touches on World Conference on Soil
Science 2006,good overview of the potential for biochar and
cleaning the environment.
Petersen, J., E.G. Neves, and M.J. Heckenberger. 2001. “Gift
from the past: Terra Preta and
. Prehistoric Amerindian Occupation in Amazonia”. p. 86–105.
C. McEwan (ed.) Unknown Amazonia. Imprint: British Museum,
Article from archeological perspective on the people and
soils of the Amazon
Steiner, Christoph, Wolfgang
Zech and Wenceslau G. Teixeira,
“Microbial Activity as Soil Quality Indicator in Annual
and Perennial Plantations Treated with Charcoal, Mineral- or
Organic Fertilizer in a Highly Weathered Amazonian Upland Soil”
18th World Congress of Soil Science, 2006,.
Online abstract stressing the stability of Soil Organic
Matter in Charcoal amended soils and the increase in Microbial
Activity in these soils. Mentioned here, as elsewhere, is the
fact that Char increase the ph of soil, which in the highly
acidic soils of the Amazon is beneficial.
Steiner, Christoph, “Charcoal as Soil Amendments,
Research and Prospects Carbon Negative Energy and Soil Restoration”
United Nations Climate Change Conference Bali, Indonesia 2007.
Excellent Power Point presentation: