Pre-Colombian Agricultre

 The pre-Colombian people of the Amazon valley created a unique, mineral-rich soil we know as terra preta. Charcoal and animal bones are added to regular soil to create a highly fertile hybrid, ideal for agriculture. When managed well, this matter avoided exhaustion from agricultural stress far longer than regular soil. Soil ecologists believe they may be able to replicate terra preta to convert thin tropical soil into rich, substantial, sustaining and possibly self-replicating earth. Scientists believe terra preta was originally created through a process known as “slash-and-char”. Instead of completely burning trees to ash, pre-Colombian farmers merely smoldered organic matter to form charcoal, and then stirred the charcoal into the soil. As carbon emissions – or rather an imbalance of carbon emissions – has a well-recognized negative effect on forests, this ancient method was truly efficient and environmentally sensitive. Charcoal is capable of retaining its carbon in the soil for close to fifty thousand years. Today, scientists and local inhabitants alike recognize the value and importance of terra preta. The earth is excavated and sold as potting soil known for its impressive productivity. Some individuals work it for years with only minimal fertilization.


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