Terra Preta In Cascadia?

by Gary Kline

Centuries ago, at the time of Columbus and going back beyond the time of Christ, there existed in South America an advanced agrarian civilization numbering in the millions and founded on the use of charcoal (plus organic materials) to create a fabulously productive and permanently fertile soil.  These were the Amazonians, who achieved an unimaginably sustainable soil and lifestyle starting from highly infertile ground.

Today the soil is known as Terra Preta, which means dark soil.  The fertility of Terra Preta soils is known to last for centuries.  For the past 50 years farmers working Terra Preta ground have taken crops off every year without having added any fertilizers.  For all practical purposes, the Terra Preta soils are as nutrient-rich as they were nearly 600 years ago, when the Amazonian people were all but wiped-out by diseases introduced by Europeans, and the jungle came back to reclaim those abandoned farmlands, villages and cities. 

The magic of Terra Preta’s charcoal - - - now known as biochar - - - is that it captures and seemingly holds minerals against washing out (leaching) by heavy rain, yet releases them to plants as needed.  Biochar also enhances living conditions for soil microbes and earthworms that play a role in Terra Preta’s magnification or expansion, as does the recycling of plant and animal matter naturally and by human cultivators.

By all accounts, limited as they were, the Amazonians led abundant, even luxuriant lives in relative harmony with their neighbors and with nature.  Sustainable living, based on sustainable soil was not an elusive goal; they achieved it and enjoyed it.  So could we - - - by bringing Terra Preta to Cascadia as the trial ground for all of the USA and countries everywhere. 

If we resolve to do this, it won’t be instant, and it won’t be cheap - - - but it will pay off - - - most handsomely, in hundreds of ways, and solve some of our civilization’s greatest challenges for how to feed our growing population, restore physical health, and bring about planetary environmental healing.  This I refer to as the BLOSSOM Era.  Vast areas of deficient, degraded and eroded soils are just waiting for the resurrection that biochar (with minerals and organic matter) could accomplish.  I invite you to participate in the Terra Preta campaign and help the world enter into the BLOSSOM Era. 

How do we do it?  Well, much like the Amazonians did it.  Clearly, the key is making and applying biochar to agricultural and other lands.  There are myriad ways and materials for doing this.  Ideally, the biochar needs to be buried, and this effectively sequesters carbon to reduce greenhouse gases.  Efficient biochar “burners” will need to be set up. 

Secondly, minerals will need to be brought in to augment the existing nutrient kinds and levels, preferably on the basis of soil test prescriptions.  This comes under the heading of soil mineral balancing, a.k.a. “mineralization”.  Rock powders and ocean mineral extracts and other major and trace mineral products will enable doing this essential aspect.

Thirdly, organic “waste” materials (preferably clean and not seriously contaminated), from all sorts of sources, can and should be added to the mix.  Lastly, all these main ingredients can be brought together and fed to earthworms or distributed onto the landscape, orchards, croplands, etc., possibly in pelleted form, to be incorporated into soils and under mulches with dynamite results.  Food-wise, the upshot will be nutrient-dense produce and livestock of the highest attainable quality.  Health is a direct consequence of the nutritional content of our diet.  


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