Terra preta – Biochar
If you’re interested in agriculture, horticulture, plants, soil, agroforestry and/or pre-Colombian land management and you haven’t read about terra preta and begun experimenting with biochar, here is some background information and a few links to get you started…
A basic overview from Wikipedia: Biochar or terra preta, is a name for charcoal when it is used for particular purposes. Like all charcoal, biochar is created by pyrolysis of biomass. Biochar is under investigation as an approach to carbon sequestration to produce negative carbon dioxide emissions, thus has the potential to help mitigate climate change, via carbon sequestration. Independently, biochar can increase soil fertility, raise agricultural productivity and reduce pressure on forests, though the degree to which results offer long term carbon sequestration in practice has been challenged. Biochar is a stable solid, rich in carbon and can endure in soil for thousands of years.
Pre-Columbian Amazonians are believed to have used biochar to enhance soil productivity. They produced it by smoldering agricultural waste (i.e., covering burning biomass with soil) in pits or trenches. European settlers called it terra preta de Indio. Following observations and experiments, a research team working in French Guiana hypothesized that the Amazonian earthworm Pontoscolex corethrurus was the main agent of fine powdering and incorporation of charcoal debris to the mineral soil. (Wikipedia)
A few links:
Biochar Farms is a very informative site.
And finally… How to Make Your Own from Instructables.com