The Birth of TerraPraeta

Terra preta (which means “dark soil” in Portuguese), refers to expanses of very dark soils found in the Amazon Basin. It is also known as “Amazonian dark earths”, Terra preta do indio, Terra preta de indio, and “Indian black earth”…

Amending soil with low temperature charcoal produced from a mix of wood and leafy biomass (termed biochar) has been observed to increase the activity of arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi. It is theorized that terra preta self-propagates via this mechanism; a virtuous cycle established as the fungus spreads from the charcoal, fixing additional carbon and stabilizing the soil with glomalin, and increasing nutrient availability for nearby plants. (link)

I happened upon a BBC Documentary about El Dorado and terra preta a year or so ago. The single most fascinating characteristic, IMO, is that terra preta is alive. Thousands of micro-organisms dancing together in a complex ecosystem, an ecosystem that we can interact with and benefit from, if only we are willing to let it be. At the end of the documentary, they mentioned that scientists are hard at work trying to figure out which organisms are critical to the success of terra preta. I could only shake my head at their ignorance.
So call me egotistical if you like, but I became Terrapraeta in the hopes that I could engender a nursery for new ideas and perhaps, in time, the foundations of a complex, virtual ecology that could give rise to some of the ten thousand ways of living. If humanity is to thrive into the next millenia, it will be because we who live have found our own ways that work, not because some scientist(s) found the magic formula.



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