Audio: Grow food without fertilizers in Terra Preta soil

2 replies [Last post]
User offline. Last seen 1 week 6 days ago. Offline
Joined: 11/26/2008

The incredible properties of Terra Preta have been known for a long time -- the soil remains fertile year after year.   Yesterday I first heard about it in the Coast Ian Punnet interview with Joel Barker.  

The FERTILIZER companies (like Chevron) would suffer tremendously if nobody bought their chemicals anymore.  That's probably why this MIRACLE soil is NOT marketed.

Interview excerpt 2.09 mb

At Cornell they've been studying Terra Preta

"Terra Preta de Indio" (Amazonian Dark Earths; earlier also called "Terra Preta do Indio" or Indian Black Earth) is the local name for certain dark earths in the Brazilian Amazon region. These dark earths occur, however, in several countries in South America and probably beyond. They were most likely created by pre-Columbian Indians from 500 to 2500 years B.P. and abandoned after the invasion of Europeans (Smith, 1980; Woods et al., 2000). ...

I sure hope some people will start businesses MAKING the soil just like the Indians -- it can't be rocket science.


User offline. Last seen 1 week 6 days ago. Offline
Joined: 11/26/2008
How do you MAKE that stuff?

It's been sunny and warm, time to start seedlings and get the ground ready.

I built a compost bin last spring and it's amazing how SMALL the pile is and it seems to be mostly straw. I'm thinking about moving it to an about 20 ft little ditch and I'm wondering whether I can burn it to make terra preta.

I found the Seattle bio char working group post at


Let me very briefly outline the's planned urban plot testing program in the metropolitan Seattle area:

• We are doing biochar educational outreach, in an effort to raise awareness and build a partnership network.
• We are recruiting existing urban and sub-urban landholding organizations to participate in an IBI designed plot testing program (using a standardized char, which we would supply)
• We plan to use the Chardb online project developed by Terra Carbona. to upload the results to an international plot testing data base.
• By the end of February we hope to have a network of partners committed to participating in this coming years growing season. We have a goal of a minimum of an acre (aggregated)
• Currently we can make limited "batch" amounts of char at one of our members shops, this will not give us a sufficient supply. We are currently looking for a source.
• We are planning on working with one of our plot testing partners to set up a small "CLEAN" biochar production, demonstration site. In the city. Where we can hold workshops and give char to gardeners willing to participate in a supported, home plot/pot testing program.
• In addition we hope to design and manage a calender of related garden tours, speakers and "stove" building classes


They are STILL worried about Co2, it's not MY concern at all.  

While I don't have to worry about polluting the ground water with chemical fertilizers up here in the high desert, I don't want to eat chemicals and I'd like to see EVERYBODY eating HEALTHY food and to stop the pollution of the ground water, rivers, lakes and oceans everywhere.

AND it's a ton of WORK to constantly have to deal with your soil.

I'd much rather deal with it ONCE and be done with it.

Wow, there's a ton of info.  I have a burn barrel and the horno.  Will have to do a lot of reading.

User offline. Last seen 1 week 6 days ago. Offline
Joined: 11/26/2008
More on making bio char

Mother Earth has a 4-page article on bio char and how to make it or where to find it:

I'll never pass an abandoned fire pit again without checking for bio char.   Time to get some cow pies at the corral.   I have a small trench waiting to be landscaped, it's time time to get this done. -- An almost industrial approach, I got some wood scraps too.

Here's a very cool video on making bio char, comparing yields, a West Virgina farmer converting bird droppings into bio char:

Is there anything in the stimulus package to finance bio char "factories" throughout the country?  All the crap from the pig farms that's polluting rivers and lakes ought to be turned into bio char.