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Woodgas stoves and terra preta

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  • Saibhaskar Nakka
    Dear All, Greetings! I am Dr. N. Sai Bhaskar Reddy, Founder and CEO of Geoecology Energy Organisation (GEO), it is an initiative to mitigate climate change
    Message 1 of 25 , Feb 2 8:58 AM
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      Dear All,

      Greetings!

      I am Dr. N. Sai Bhaskar Reddy, Founder and CEO of Geoecology Energy
      Organisation (GEO), it is an initiative to mitigate climate change through
      adaptation. I have developed techniques to reclaim the alkaline soils using
      charcoal and other amendments, which also helps in carbon sequestration.
      Have designed about 14 Good Stoves which reduce CO2 emissions, efficient and
      also some of the stoves produce charcoal as byproduct, which can be used for
      improving the soil. I am a great fan of Fukuoka, and I like natural
      farming concept. I am thankful to Raji Titus for introducing me to this
      great group. All the desings and knowledge created by GEO is declared as
      Creative Commons for common good.
      For more details on GEO initiatives please see: http://www.e-geo.org and
      http://www.goodstove.com

      With regards,

      Dr. Sai Bhaskar Reddy N.
      Mobile No. 09246352018


      [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
    • Dieter Brand
      Hi, Welcome to the group! Can you explain, in layman s terms, how charcoal is used as a soil amendment and what effect this has on soil fertility? I would also
      Message 2 of 25 , Feb 2 11:26 AM
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        Hi,

        Welcome to the group!

        Can you explain, in layman's terms, how charcoal is used as
        a soil amendment and what effect this has on soil fertility?

        I would also be interested to know if field tests have been
        conducted that demonstrate charcoal's influence on soil fertility.
        Are there any test reports available on the Internet?

        Dieter Brand
        Portugal

        Saibhaskar Nakka <saibhaskarnakka@...> wrote:
        Dear All,

        Greetings!

        I am Dr. N. Sai Bhaskar Reddy, Founder and CEO of Geoecology Energy
        Organisation (GEO), it is an initiative to mitigate climate change through
        adaptation. I have developed techniques to reclaim the alkaline soils using
        charcoal and other amendments, which also helps in carbon sequestration.
        Have designed about 14 Good Stoves which reduce CO2 emissions, efficient and
        also some of the stoves produce charcoal as byproduct, which can be used for
        improving the soil. I am a great fan of Fukuoka, and I like natural
        farming concept. I am thankful to Raji Titus for introducing me to this
        great group. All the desings and knowledge created by GEO is declared as
        Creative Commons for common good.
        For more details on GEO initiatives please see: http://www.e-geo.org and
        http://www.goodstove.com

        With regards,

        Dr. Sai Bhaskar Reddy N.
        Mobile No. 09246352018

        [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]






        ---------------------------------
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        [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
      • johnmacmot
        The Terra Preta phenomenon is something I ve recently become aware of myself. There is a quite a lot of information online about the background and current
        Message 3 of 25 , Feb 2 12:35 PM
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          The Terra Preta phenomenon is something I've recently become aware of myself. There is
          a quite a lot of information online about the background and current research and
          progress.

          here are some good starting links:
          Horizon documentary that does a useful job of outlining the Terra Preta origins and
          characteristics in the Amazon Basin - http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=-
          2809044795781727003&q=amazon+bbc&pr=goog-sl

          The Cornell University site where quite a lot of research work has been focused:
          http://www.css.cornell.edu/faculty/lehmann/terra_preta/TerraPretahome.htm

          The main discussion forum on the subject:
          http://forums.hypography.com/terra-preta.html

          If you dig around these sites you will get a good picture of an interesting and potentially
          quite significant subject.

          John McFadgen
          --- In fukuoka_farming@yahoogroups.com, Dieter Brand <diebrand@...> wrote:
          >
          > Hi,
          >
          > Welcome to the group!
          >
          > Can you explain, in layman's terms, how charcoal is used as
          > a soil amendment and what effect this has on soil fertility?
          >
          > I would also be interested to know if field tests have been
          > conducted that demonstrate charcoal's influence on soil fertility.
          > Are there any test reports available on the Internet?
          >
          > Dieter Brand
          > Portugal
          >
          > Saibhaskar Nakka <saibhaskarnakka@...> wrote:
          > Dear All,
          >
          > Greetings!
          >
          > I am Dr. N. Sai Bhaskar Reddy, Founder and CEO of Geoecology Energy
          > Organisation (GEO), it is an initiative to mitigate climate change through
          > adaptation. I have developed techniques to reclaim the alkaline soils using
          > charcoal and other amendments, which also helps in carbon sequestration.
          > Have designed about 14 Good Stoves which reduce CO2 emissions, efficient and
          > also some of the stoves produce charcoal as byproduct, which can be used for
          > improving the soil. I am a great fan of Fukuoka, and I like natural
          > farming concept. I am thankful to Raji Titus for introducing me to this
          > great group. All the desings and knowledge created by GEO is declared as
          > Creative Commons for common good.
          > For more details on GEO initiatives please see: http://www.e-geo.org and
          > http://www.goodstove.com
          >
          > With regards,
          >
          > Dr. Sai Bhaskar Reddy N.
          > Mobile No. 09246352018
          >
          > [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
          >
          >
          >
          >
          >
          >
          > ---------------------------------
          > Be a better friend, newshound, and know-it-all with Yahoo! Mobile. Try it now.
          >
          > [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
          >
        • Jeff
          ... First- not all charcoal is equal in its ability to help soil fertility. The charcoal typically sold for grills is high temperature charcoal. (900+ C) Where
          Message 4 of 25 , Feb 2 5:58 PM
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            > Can you explain, in layman's terms, how charcoal is used as
            > a soil amendment and what effect this has on soil fertility?
            >
            First- not all charcoal is equal in its ability to help soil
            fertility. The charcoal typically sold for grills is high temperature
            charcoal. (900+ C) Where as biologically active charcoal is produced
            at lower temps (300-750 C). The best temperature for production is a
            point of debate. Sadly, most of the work being done on replicating
            terra praeta is comercialized so they are not reporting their results
            openly.

            The low temperature has several different benefits: not all the N is
            burned off at low temperatures. Nitrogen is an essentail plant
            element. The second benefit has to do with the pore space. High
            temperature causes the pores to connect and collapse. The smaller
            pores with the low temperature are vital for a) holding nutrients b)
            holding beneficial microbes and c) holding water.

            Charcoal act similar to other organic mater by holding nutrients and
            water. Charcoal has the added benefit that it is already stabilized.
            THat is microbes can't break it down, or do so very very slowly. As
            opposed to regular biomass which is rapidly lost due to decomposition,
            and only a small percentage remains as humus.

            There have been a couple of reports of successful use on the web, but
            none of them scientific. One did report results. First year about the
            same as fertilized,and an increase of 10-30% the second year in
            depending on crop, but the experimental design was somewhat flawed in
            my opinoin (I'm not doubting the results, but rather the ability to
            withstand scientific scrutiny.)

            I would be intereted in knowing of any studies people have come across.





            > I would also be interested to know if field tests have been
            > conducted that demonstrate charcoal's influence on soil fertility.
            > Are there any test reports available on the Internet?
            >

            >
            > I am Dr. N. Sai Bhaskar Reddy, Founder and CEO of Geoecology Energy
            > Organisation (GEO), it is an initiative to mitigate climate change
            through
            > adaptation. I have developed techniques to reclaim the alkaline
            soils using charcoal and other amendments, which also helps in carbon
            sequestration. Have designed about 14 Good Stoves which reduce CO2
            emissions, efficient and also some of the stoves produce charcoal as
            byproduct, which can be used for improving the soil. I am a great fan
            of Fukuoka, and I like natural farming concept. I am thankful to Raji
            Titus for introducing me to this great group. All the desings and
            knowledge created by GEO is declared as Creative Commons for common
            good. For more details on GEO initiatives please see:
            http://www.e-geo.org and
            > http://www.goodstove.com
            >
            > With regards,
            >
            > Dr. Sai Bhaskar Reddy N.
            > Mobile No. 09246352018
            >
            > [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
            >
            >
            >
            >
            >
            >
            > ---------------------------------
            > Be a better friend, newshound, and know-it-all with Yahoo! Mobile.
            Try it now.
            >
            > [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
            >
          • Dieter Brand
            Jeff, Thanks for chipping in with some easy to understand comments on the terra preta phenomenon. Thus, as far as you are aware, there is no demonstrated
            Message 5 of 25 , Feb 3 4:12 AM
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              Jeff,

              Thanks for chipping in with some easy to understand comments
              on the terra preta phenomenon.

              Thus, as far as you are aware, there is no demonstrated objective
              evidence, at the present point in time, that terra preta does indeed
              improve soil fertility.

              > ... Charcoal has the added benefit that it is already stabilized.
              > THat is microbes can't break it down, or do so very very slowly.
              > As opposed to regular biomass which is rapidly lost due to
              > decomposition, and only a small percentage remains as humus.

              Recently, I have repeatedly come across the idea that most
              biomass is lost, gassed-off, during decomposition. Somehow,
              this seems to be contrary to the very unscientific ideas I have
              in my head regarding soil processes.

              If most biomass is lost, then my compost heap, which consists
              entirely of plant residues, would have to disappear almost entirely.
              Admittedly, the compost volume does shrink, especially in the
              early stages of composting. But that is not surprising given the
              very loose and watery consistence of the starting heap.

              And even if the compost volume and/or mass, once applied to
              the soil, were to shrink even further, there are still the biological
              soil processes set in motion by compost, ie. biomass, which
              benefit the soil and ultimately are at the _root_ of all soil fertility.

              My _hunch_ is that by converting biomass into charcoal instead
              of applying it directly to the soil, we somehow cut short these
              biological processes and thus deprive the soil of the activity it
              has relied on from the beginning to create fertility and thus life.
              But we humans always know better how nature ought to do it's
              thing.

              Dieter Brand
              Portugal

              PS: Again, in my very unscientific ways, I think that how much
              biomass is lost, gassed-off, probably depends on specific
              conditions such as soil type, climate (wet/dry, hot/cold) and last
              but not least on the type of soil management used: tilling or not
              tilling, bare soil versus cover cropping, etc.


              Jeff <shultonus@...> wrote:

              > Can you explain, in layman's terms, how charcoal is used as
              > a soil amendment and what effect this has on soil fertility?
              >
              First- not all charcoal is equal in its ability to help soil
              fertility. The charcoal typically sold for grills is high temperature
              charcoal. (900+ C) Where as biologically active charcoal is produced
              at lower temps (300-750 C). The best temperature for production is a
              point of debate. Sadly, most of the work being done on replicating
              terra praeta is comercialized so they are not reporting their results
              openly.

              The low temperature has several different benefits: not all the N is
              burned off at low temperatures. Nitrogen is an essentail plant
              element. The second benefit has to do with the pore space. High
              temperature causes the pores to connect and collapse. The smaller
              pores with the low temperature are vital for a) holding nutrients b)
              holding beneficial microbes and c) holding water.

              Charcoal act similar to other organic mater by holding nutrients and
              water. Charcoal has the added benefit that it is already stabilized.
              THat is microbes can't break it down, or do so very very slowly. As
              opposed to regular biomass which is rapidly lost due to decomposition,
              and only a small percentage remains as humus.

              There have been a couple of reports of successful use on the web, but
              none of them scientific. One did report results. First year about the
              same as fertilized,and an increase of 10-30% the second year in
              depending on crop, but the experimental design was somewhat flawed in
              my opinoin (I'm not doubting the results, but rather the ability to
              withstand scientific scrutiny.)

              I would be intereted in knowing of any studies people have come across.




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            • Dieter Brand
              ... John, many thanks for posting the terra preta links. Unfortunately, my Internet connection isn t up to watching videos online. And, most of us find that
              Message 6 of 25 , Feb 3 5:20 AM
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                >There is a quite a lot of information online about the background
                >and current research and progress.

                John, many thanks for posting the terra preta links. Unfortunately,
                my Internet connection isn't up to watching videos online. And,
                most of us find that eyesight decreases in direct proportion to
                the increase in age, which makes us rather more selective about
                what we read and what not. I had thus hoped, however selfishly,
                that the gentleman from India would be inclined to share his
                experience in this matter so as to remove all doubts from our
                mind.

                Dieter Brand
                Portugal

                johnmacmot <johnmacmot@...> wrote:
                The Terra Preta phenomenon is something I've recently become aware of myself. There is
                a quite a lot of information online about the background and current research and
                progress.

                here are some good starting links:
                Horizon documentary that does a useful job of outlining the Terra Preta origins and
                characteristics in the Amazon Basin - http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=-
                2809044795781727003&q=amazon+bbc&pr=goog-sl

                The Cornell University site where quite a lot of research work has been focused:
                http://www.css.cornell.edu/faculty/lehmann/terra_preta/TerraPretahome.htm

                The main discussion forum on the subject:
                http://forums.hypography.com/terra-preta.html

                If you dig around these sites you will get a good picture of an interesting and potentially
                quite significant subject.

                John McFadgen



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              • Nakka Sai Bhaskar Reddy
                Dear All, Regarding my own experience in Terra Preta, the complete details are found in these links: Terra Preta - Roof Top experiments
                Message 7 of 25 , Feb 3 7:35 AM
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                  Dear All,

                  Regarding my own experience in Terra Preta, the complete details are
                  found in these links:

                  Terra Preta - Roof Top experiments
                  http://e-terrapretarooftopexp.blogspot.com/

                  Alkaline soils and Terra Preta
                  http://e-alkalinesoilsterrapreta.blogspot.com/

                  Top group on terra preta
                  http://terrapreta.bioenergylists.org/

                  Regarding how to make charcoal see some of the links in
                  http://www.e-geo.org/home322

                  Carbon is the essential element for all life on earth and it can
                  also provide a habitat for the soil microbes and for absorbing
                  certain elements. As charcoal has maximum surface area, it is like a
                  multi-million story apartments structure for soil microbes to live
                  and thrive, as in cities we are constructing multi-story apartments
                  for people to live. It has much more value than as explained here.
                  We should understand why 'GOD' has choosen carbon instead of silica
                  (except few radiolarian cherts) for majority of life forms on earth
                  as basic element.

                  Dr. N. Sai Bhaskar Reddy
                  http://www.e-geo.org


                  --- In fukuoka_farming@yahoogroups.com, Dieter Brand <diebrand@...>
                  wrote:
                  >
                  > >There is a quite a lot of information online about the background
                  > >and current research and progress.
                  >
                  > John, many thanks for posting the terra preta links.
                  Unfortunately,
                  > my Internet connection isn't up to watching videos online. And,
                  > most of us find that eyesight decreases in direct proportion to
                  >
                • Greg and Garbo
                  Hi Folks, I thought I¹d add my two cents worth on Terra Preta and Carbon. I have been reading that the reason charcoal activates soil fertility so, is that
                  Message 8 of 25 , Feb 3 9:39 AM
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                    Hi Folks,

                    I thought I¹d add my two cents worth on Terra Preta and Carbon.

                    I have been reading that the reason charcoal activates soil fertility so, is
                    that carbon is an element that readily binds with many other elements to
                    form molecules that make up the basis of life. You have probably heard that
                    we are Œcarbon based¹ creatures, carbon being the base element in the
                    formation of almost all earthly living things.

                    Charcoal is almost pure carbon. When it comes out of a wood-gas stove, it is
                    called Œactivated carbon¹, meaning that all or most of the other elements
                    that were once combined with it, have been driven of by the extreme
                    temperatures of the gasification process, leaving behind almost pure carbon
                    in a form that is eager to bond with any element it has an affinity for. And
                    carbon has an affinity for many other elements, many of them soil nutrients,
                    and so it acts as a catalyst to enable movement and uptake of nutrients that
                    otherwise may not be available for plants. This process further enables
                    symbiotic relationships with living soil biota.

                    If your interested in seeing a video of our home-made wood-gas stove, a
                    by-product of which is charcoal, please go to:
                    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zBsG32n_8oc

                    I hope this is helpful.

                    Thanks,
                    Greg in Wisconsin



                    [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
                  • Dieter Brand
                    Greetings! Thanks for posting your links. That will give us something to read. High-rise buildings for microbes , nice image. Carbon is no doubt important for
                    Message 9 of 25 , Feb 3 11:41 AM
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                      Greetings!

                      Thanks for posting your links.
                      That will give us something to read.

                      "High-rise buildings for microbes", nice image.
                      Carbon is no doubt important for live on this planet,
                      even though, I suppose that silica, or clay, has it's
                      role to play.

                      Dieter Brand
                      Portugal

                      Nakka Sai Bhaskar Reddy <saibhaskarnakka@...> wrote:
                      Dear All,

                      Regarding my own experience in Terra Preta, the complete details are
                      found in these links:

                      Terra Preta - Roof Top experiments
                      http://e-terrapretarooftopexp.blogspot.com/

                      Alkaline soils and Terra Preta
                      http://e-alkalinesoilsterrapreta.blogspot.com/

                      Top group on terra preta
                      http://terrapreta.bioenergylists.org/

                      Regarding how to make charcoal see some of the links in
                      http://www.e-geo.org/home322

                      Carbon is the essential element for all life on earth and it can
                      also provide a habitat for the soil microbes and for absorbing
                      certain elements. As charcoal has maximum surface area, it is like a
                      multi-million story apartments structure for soil microbes to live
                      and thrive, as in cities we are constructing multi-story apartments
                      for people to live. It has much more value than as explained here.
                      We should understand why 'GOD' has choosen carbon instead of silica
                      (except few radiolarian cherts) for majority of life forms on earth
                      as basic element.

                      Dr. N. Sai Bhaskar Reddy
                      http://www.e-geo.org

                      --- In fukuoka_farming@yahoogroups.com, Dieter Brand <diebrand@...>
                      wrote:
                      >
                      > >There is a quite a lot of information online about the background
                      > >and current research and progress.
                      >
                      > John, many thanks for posting the terra preta links.
                      Unfortunately,
                      > my Internet connection isn't up to watching videos online. And,
                      > most of us find that eyesight decreases in direct proportion to
                      >






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                    • Jeff
                      ... indeed improve soil fertility. ... Lehmann, does have very good objective and scientific data on the increases in soil fertility, however the corresponding
                      Message 10 of 25 , Feb 3 12:43 PM
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                        >
                        > Thus, as far as you are aware, there is no demonstrated objective
                        > evidence, at the present point in time, that terra preta does
                        indeed improve soil fertility.
                        >
                        Lehmann, does have very good objective and scientific data on the
                        increases in soil fertility, however the corresponding data on actual
                        YEILD differences are spotty.

                        Specifically Lehmann uses high-technology measuring devices to measure
                        the soil fertility. THe only biotic indicator Lehmann measure is leaf
                        production, which isn't what gardeners or farmers care about. In fact
                        many of the recent advances in (natural) plant breeding have come at
                        the expense of leaf area.

                        Lehmann is a soil scientist, and is fascinated by the function of the
                        soil, not necessarily the agricultural yeild.
                        THe nutrients are not only higher in the terra praeta, they are not
                        easily leached by rain (measured by Lehmann), they are more
                        bio-available, especially P (phosophorus) (also measured by Lehmann)

                        > Recently, I have repeatedly come across the idea that most
                        > biomass is lost, gassed-off, during decomposition. Somehow,
                        > this seems to be contrary to the very unscientific ideas I have
                        > in my head regarding soil processes.

                        Biomass is lost and is not easily apparent because its such a long
                        process. It is also difficult to measure because of the time scales
                        involved. It is a logrithmic progression.
                        ie it takes 1-3 years to lose 50% and 10 years to lose half of that
                        (25%) and so on.


                        > And even if the compost volume and/or mass, once applied to
                        > the soil, were to shrink even further, there are still the
                        biological soil processes set in motion by compost, ie. biomass, which
                        > benefit the soil and ultimately are at the _root_ of all soil
                        fertility.
                        >
                        > My _hunch_ is that by converting biomass into charcoal instead
                        > of applying it directly to the soil, we somehow cut short these
                        > biological processes and thus deprive the soil of the activity it
                        > has relied on from the beginning to create fertility and thus life.
                        > But we humans always know better how nature ought to do it's
                        > thing.
                        >
                        THis is the most surprising part of Terra praeta.
                        The bio-char in terra praeta is EXCELLENT habitat for the soil
                        microbes and those processes. The pores in the charcoal provide many
                        many microhabitats for them. WHile the process is different, and
                        involves different species of microbes the soil does indeed seem
                        extremely healthy (Lehmann and his collegues also measure and defined
                        the microbe community of Terra praeta)
                      • Allan Balliett
                        No doubt that the terra preta soils are healthy. I was just reading Glaser s AMAZON SOILS book yesterday. It s repeatedly pointed out in various reports in
                        Message 11 of 25 , Feb 3 12:55 PM
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                          No doubt that the terra preta soils are healthy.

                          I was just reading Glaser's AMAZON SOILS book yesterday.

                          It's repeatedly pointed out in various reports in that book that char
                          or no char, another characteristic of the soils is that human waste
                          and fish waste were heavily incorporated into these soils over, in
                          most cases, hundreds of years of time.

                          It's hard to do the American thing and decide that "it's just the
                          charcoal" that makes these soils so special.

                          Also, as little as a year ago people were saying "terra preta
                          involves putting pottery shards and charcoal into the ground" now we
                          are just hearing "char," and the pottery part seems to be being
                          ignored.

                          Worse, it has become clear that some of the examples we had last year
                          of bio-char causing great growth to the soil in short order actually
                          involved impregnating the char with chemmy nitrogen before burying.

                          There's a lot more to be learned about terra preta before we poor
                          dirt farmers need to spend a lot of time or energy making char and
                          digging it into the soil.

                          -Allan Balliett
                          Shepherdstown, WV
                        • Nakka Sai Bhaskar Reddy
                          Dear All, Please see this poster (link below) to get the relationship between, woodgas stoves, terra preta, mitigating climate change through carbon
                          Message 12 of 25 , Feb 5 1:25 AM
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                            Dear All,

                            Please see this poster (link below) to get the relationship between,
                            woodgas stoves, terra preta, mitigating climate change through carbon
                            sequestration and making biomass available for stoves.

                            http://docs.google.com/View?docid=ddtcnc28_66cjdz64gt

                            Dr. N. Sai Bhaskar Reddy
                          • Dieter Brand
                            Jeff, ... Is _loss_ really the term that applies here? Would it not be better to talk about _transformation_? Then there is the question what is it transformed
                            Message 13 of 25 , Feb 5 1:53 AM
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                              Jeff,

                              >Biomass is lost and is not easily apparent because its such a long
                              >process. It is also difficult to measure because of the time scales
                              >involved. It is a logrithmic progression.
                              >ie it takes 1-3 years to lose 50% and 10 years to lose half of that
                              >(25%) and so on.

                              Is _loss_ really the term that applies here? Would it not be better to
                              talk about _transformation_?

                              Then there is the question what is it transformed into? Emitted into
                              the atmosphere? Taken up by neighbouring plants? Transformed into
                              stable clay-humus complexes? Converted into glomalin? Eternally
                              recycled among microbes? Converted into something we don't even
                              know about?

                              Altogether too complex for any science to handle. But we are still
                              dead sure that all of that complexity we don't understand can easily
                              be replaced by charcoal or why not NPK, that should do the trick.

                              Dieter Brand
                              Portugal



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                            • Robert Monie
                              Hi Allan, Thank you for your excellent observations. Fish, of course, bring us back to seaweed (which many fish consume and which contains many trace elements
                              Message 14 of 25 , Feb 7 8:01 AM
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                                Hi Allan,

                                Thank you for your excellent observations. Fish, of course, bring us back to seaweed (which many fish consume and which contains many trace elements besides the supposedly main element of carbon) and bonemeal (composed of calcium and phosphorus), from time immemorial staples of organic farming. Silica is also present in the form of ceramics and clays. Without silica (silicon), plants sag and fall; imagine cane or grass growing with only carbon to hold it up: bamboo fields would look like wet noodles drooping in a plate. Human waste further skewers the formula that carbon = fertility since human waste includes everything from maganese to molebdyum. The 11th commandment is or should be "Thou shalt not reduce complexity to one element." Or, as that famous non-believer H. L. Menken said, "For every complex question there is a simple answer, and it is always wrong." In composing the periodic table (surely one of the greatest achievements of the miserable human race) Mendelev
                                did not beat his chest Tarzan ape-man-like and proclaim "Me carbon, you Jane." He wisely grouped the elements according to their properties, with hydrogen first and space left for all the heavy radioactive ones, natural and man-made (or human-induced, if you prefer). Life at every level is diversity, from the lepton to the atom to the molecule to the cell to the tissue groups to the systems to the plants and animals and other forms, to the local ecologies, to the biosphere, to Gaia. Gaia is GEOLOGY (everything mostly besides carbon), water (hydrogen and oxygen), and living things together; that means all the elements in Mendeleev's table, a vast cosmic rainbow. It takes "rocks and gravel" and water, along with carbon, to make a mighty world (to paraphrase an old American slave work song), and carbon "ain't nothing special."

                                Personally, I tell carbon ("char") to go sit down and take its place in the bleachers along with the other players. It isn't any superstar. It has a role to play along with the other elements, and if its supporters cheer too much, in order to prevent carbon getting too big a head, we need to call "foul" and eject them from the game or better still, sentence them to copy the periodic table at least 100 times, pronouncing the names as they go along (and also reciting the known contribution many of these wonderful elements make to plant and human nutrition). .

                                If it takes a village to raise a child, it takes a periodic table of all the elements to bring forth and sustain life on this earth. If we start inventing carbon idols, worshipping them, and devising strange myth/theologies in defense of our idol, we will become the laughing stock of the sustainable farming community.


                                Disbelieving in carbon char as the elixir and mystical bringer of life and all plant fertility,

                                Bob Monie
                                New Orleans, LA
                                Zone 8
                                Ashes to Ashes, the day after Ash Wednesday. Ashes often contain sodium, titanium, potassium, calcium, silicon, aluminium, magnesium, iron, iodine, etc.



                                Allan Balliett <aballiett@...> wrote:
                                No doubt that the terra preta soils are healthy.

                                I was just reading Glaser's AMAZON SOILS book yesterday.

                                It's repeatedly pointed out in various reports in that book that char
                                or no char, another characteristic of the soils is that human waste
                                and fish waste were heavily incorporated into these soils over, in
                                most cases, hundreds of years of time.

                                It's hard to do the American thing and decide that "it's just the
                                charcoal" that makes these soils so special.

                                Also, as little as a year ago people were saying "terra preta
                                involves putting pottery shards and charcoal into the ground" now we
                                are just hearing "char," and the pottery part seems to be being
                                ignored.

                                Worse, it has become clear that some of the examples we had last year
                                of bio-char causing great growth to the soil in short order actually
                                involved impregnating the char with chemmy nitrogen before burying.

                                There's a lot more to be learned about terra preta before we poor
                                dirt farmers need to spend a lot of time or energy making char and
                                digging it into the soil.

                                -Allan Balliett
                                Shepherdstown, WV





                                [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
                              • Jeff
                                ... As always, your voice is freshness in the stale air, Bob. However, I like to comment on the words you would walk on. ... life and all plant fertility, ...
                                Message 15 of 25 , Feb 7 3:04 PM
                                • 0 Attachment
                                  >

                                  As always, your voice is freshness in the stale air, Bob.
                                  However, I like to comment on the words you would walk on.

                                  > Disbelieving in carbon char as the elixir and mystical bringer of
                                  life and all plant fertility,
                                  > Ashes to Ashes, the day after Ash Wednesday. Ashes often contain
                                  sodium, titanium, potassium, calcium, silicon, aluminium, magnesium,
                                  iron, iodine, etc.
                                  >
                                  While carbon cannot carry all of life on its back,it is indeed an all
                                  star.
                                  >
                                  > It's hard to do the American thing and decide that "it's just the
                                  > charcoal" that makes these soils so special.


                                  Quite the contrary, its easy to do the American thing, in fact many
                                  all ready have, including Mr. Monie. Its just misleading to do so.

                                  Bio-char is an elixir for what ails, industrialized sterile soil.
                                  Going from just NPK to something more is a wonderful step in the right
                                  direction. Even if it is one baby step at a time.

                                  And even as Mr Monie, reminds us ASHES contain a host of other
                                  elements- We know wood contains these, and ashes contain them,
                                  likewise Char holds these as well. Its an intermediate step in the
                                  journey. In fact, Char holds more of these substances because less is
                                  lost to volitilization.

                                  And the elegant and beautiful thing about Bio-char is the fact that it
                                  helps the soil HOLD onto those other necessary nutrients against the
                                  erosional and leaching processes. ALso it provides houses and homes,
                                  and water and air for microbes to re-establish themselves.

                                  It seems that carbon at once plays, quarterback, linemen, and wide
                                  recievers, but it still needs help for the running plays, the kicking,
                                  and defense.

                                  An all star, YES, the whole team, not by a long shot.
                                  We all cheer for the heroes the loudest,
                                  but are all strangely satisfied when the underdogs win the day.

                                  And that's not counting char's possible 'cure' for global warming. But
                                  this too should be taken with cation.. take two and CALL me in the
                                  morning. It certainly seems unlikely that it will take place in large
                                  enough scales to be more than a minor player in that battle.

                                  Jeff

                                  everyone should give it a try, jsut to let the neighbors know what's
                                  out there.
                                • Dieter Brand
                                  It is elating, so much fine rhetoric, and that with Carnevale only just over. Decidedly, this year s festivities didn t use up all of our energies and there is
                                  Message 16 of 25 , Feb 8 2:22 AM
                                  • 0 Attachment
                                    It is elating, so much fine rhetoric, and that with Carnevale
                                    only just over. Decidedly, this year's festivities didn't use up
                                    all of our energies and there is still plenty of carbon to burn.
                                    Now we just need somebody to put hand to shovel.

                                    >everyone should give it a try, just to let the neighbors know
                                    >what's out there.

                                    You go first! I'll wait and see. The trouble is, once you
                                    have put the stuff in there, there's no way of getting it out
                                    again. We will only be able to understand the implications
                                    after large scale long-term field tests have been conducted
                                    by independent parties under varying soil and climate
                                    conditions. How long was it before the downside of NPK
                                    fertilization were finally understood? Another magic wand.
                                    Even Liebig recanting didn't help once the gravy train
                                    was set in motion. That, or course, is not the same
                                    thing. It's funny though, more than a century after N
                                    was found to be the wonder drug in farming, we have
                                    hit on C to solve all our problems. It's a bit like nutrition:
                                    first they tell us to eat a lot of vitamins, then it's fibres,
                                    then its ... Whatever it does, its good for industry.

                                    In the meantime, I will just continue to use plain old
                                    organic matter directly, as compost or even as manure.

                                    Dieter Brand
                                    Portugal

                                    PS:
                                    Jeff, do you care to comment on something that Allan
                                    mentioned in his post, namely that chemical nitrogen was
                                    used in field tests with charcoal to offset the effect of the
                                    carbon. Wouldn't that make things rather difficult for organic
                                    farmers?



                                    ---------------------------------
                                    Never miss a thing. Make Yahoo your homepage.

                                    [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
                                  • Elsa Santos
                                    After doing a bit of research on dark, rich soils, it seems that char is not that simple, and that living whole organisms such as terra preta and mulata,
                                    Message 17 of 25 , Feb 8 4:50 AM
                                    • 0 Attachment
                                      After doing a bit of research on dark, rich soils, it seems
                                      that "char" is not that simple, and that living whole organisms such
                                      as terra preta and mulata, that are so complex and are able
                                      to "reproduce" themselves infinitely (if you take a layer of one
                                      meter of terra preta off a site and come back one year later, the
                                      same amount you took out of terra preta will have regrown by then)-
                                      are the result of all organic matter + chunks of partially burned, at
                                      slow, low temperature of still green (resin rich) woods and green
                                      crop left overs. Apparently that's the mix that allows the complex
                                      symbiosis between bacteria, enzymes, and all other elements that make
                                      a up soil. So, maybe it's healthier to dig deeper (no pun intended)
                                      into a subject before making up ones mind and crystalizing a
                                      opinion...

                                      --- In fukuoka_farming@yahoogroups.com, Robert Monie <bobm20001@...>
                                      wrote:
                                      >
                                      > Hi Allan,
                                      >
                                      > Thank you for your excellent observations. Fish, of course,
                                      bring us back to seaweed (which many fish consume and which contains
                                      many trace elements besides the supposedly main element of carbon)
                                      and bonemeal (composed of calcium and phosphorus), from time
                                      immemorial staples of organic farming. Silica is also present in the
                                      form of ceramics and clays. Without silica (silicon), plants sag and
                                      fall; imagine cane or grass growing with only carbon to hold it up:
                                      bamboo fields would look like wet noodles drooping in a plate. Human
                                      waste further skewers the formula that carbon = fertility since human
                                      waste includes everything from maganese to molebdyum. The 11th
                                      commandment is or should be "Thou shalt not reduce complexity to one
                                      element." Or, as that famous non-believer H. L. Menken said, "For
                                      every complex question there is a simple answer, and it is always
                                      wrong." In composing the periodic table (surely one of the greatest
                                      achievements of the miserable human race) Mendelev
                                      > did not beat his chest Tarzan ape-man-like and proclaim "Me
                                      carbon, you Jane." He wisely grouped the elements according to their
                                      properties, with hydrogen first and space left for all the heavy
                                      radioactive ones, natural and man-made (or human-induced, if you
                                      prefer). Life at every level is diversity, from the lepton to the
                                      atom to the molecule to the cell to the tissue groups to the systems
                                      to the plants and animals and other forms, to the local ecologies, to
                                      the biosphere, to Gaia. Gaia is GEOLOGY (everything mostly besides
                                      carbon), water (hydrogen and oxygen), and living things together;
                                      that means all the elements in Mendeleev's table, a vast cosmic
                                      rainbow. It takes "rocks and gravel" and water, along with carbon, to
                                      make a mighty world (to paraphrase an old American slave work song),
                                      and carbon "ain't nothing special."
                                      >
                                      > Personally, I tell carbon ("char") to go sit down and take its
                                      place in the bleachers along with the other players. It isn't any
                                      superstar. It has a role to play along with the other elements, and
                                      if its supporters cheer too much, in order to prevent carbon getting
                                      too big a head, we need to call "foul" and eject them from the game
                                      or better still, sentence them to copy the periodic table at least
                                      100 times, pronouncing the names as they go along (and also reciting
                                      the known contribution many of these wonderful elements make to plant
                                      and human nutrition). .
                                      >
                                      > If it takes a village to raise a child, it takes a periodic table
                                      of all the elements to bring forth and sustain life on this earth. If
                                      we start inventing carbon idols, worshipping them, and devising
                                      strange myth/theologies in defense of our idol, we will become the
                                      laughing stock of the sustainable farming community.
                                      >
                                      >
                                      > Disbelieving in carbon char as the elixir and mystical bringer of
                                      life and all plant fertility,
                                      >
                                      > Bob Monie
                                      > New Orleans, LA
                                      > Zone 8
                                      > Ashes to Ashes, the day after Ash Wednesday. Ashes often contain
                                      sodium, titanium, potassium, calcium, silicon, aluminium, magnesium,
                                      iron, iodine, etc.
                                      >
                                      >
                                      >
                                      > Allan Balliett <aballiett@...> wrote:
                                      > No doubt that the terra preta soils are healthy.
                                      >
                                      > I was just reading Glaser's AMAZON SOILS book yesterday.
                                      >
                                      > It's repeatedly pointed out in various reports in that book that
                                      char
                                      > or no char, another characteristic of the soils is that human waste
                                      > and fish waste were heavily incorporated into these soils over, in
                                      > most cases, hundreds of years of time.
                                      >
                                      > It's hard to do the American thing and decide that "it's just the
                                      > charcoal" that makes these soils so special.
                                      >
                                      > Also, as little as a year ago people were saying "terra preta
                                      > involves putting pottery shards and charcoal into the ground" now
                                      we
                                      > are just hearing "char," and the pottery part seems to be being
                                      > ignored.
                                      >
                                      > Worse, it has become clear that some of the examples we had last
                                      year
                                      > of bio-char causing great growth to the soil in short order
                                      actually
                                      > involved impregnating the char with chemmy nitrogen before burying.
                                      >
                                      > There's a lot more to be learned about terra preta before we poor
                                      > dirt farmers need to spend a lot of time or energy making char and
                                      > digging it into the soil.
                                      >
                                      > -Allan Balliett
                                      > Shepherdstown, WV
                                      >
                                      >
                                      >
                                      >
                                      >
                                      > [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
                                      >
                                    • Robert Monie
                                      Hi Elsa, Yes, agriculture works by complex systems, not Swinging Big-Stuff Casey Carbon at the Bat (Remember in that famous poem Casey Carbon had lots of
                                      Message 18 of 25 , Feb 8 7:00 AM
                                      • 0 Attachment
                                        Hi Elsa,

                                        Yes, agriculture works by complex systems, not Swinging Big-Stuff Casey Carbon at the Bat (Remember in that famous poem Casey Carbon had lots of confidence, swagger, scary muscles, and a loud cheering squad, but--he struck out). Terra Preta, the complex system, is undoubtedly worthy of great attention and deep study. If I could buy a bag of the stuff, I would try it out (what is the going price, $6,000 a cubic foot?) The question is, as you have suggested, not how much "char" (whatever exactly that is) to add, but how do you encourage Nature to put together a complex system like Terra Preta (which contains the whole elemental alphabet plus innumerable living and nonliving, organic and inorganic molecular constituents, few of which begin with the letter "C," and only one of which is spelled C-a-r-b-o-n. Let's not forget the "R" word, ROOTS. If roots grow deep enough and the environment treats them just right, they and their tiny microbial allies may produce Terra
                                        Preta, with only the bare minimum of assistance from the "Big-C."

                                        Carbon-idolatry is a sin against the natural systems of the world. Instead, let's find out how Terra Preta actually works in its alphabet-soupyness and grow comparable systems in our gardens and fields.

                                        Best wishes,

                                        Bob Monie
                                        New Orleans, LA
                                        Zone 8
                                        Elsa Santos <elsamagosa@...> wrote:
                                        After doing a bit of research on dark, rich soils, it seems
                                        that "char" is not that simple, and that living whole organisms such
                                        as terra preta and mulata, that are so complex and are able
                                        to "reproduce" themselves infinitely (if you take a layer of one
                                        meter of terra preta off a site and come back one year later, the
                                        same amount you took out of terra preta will have regrown by then)-
                                        are the result of all organic matter + chunks of partially burned, at
                                        slow, low temperature of still green (resin rich) woods and green
                                        crop left overs. Apparently that's the mix that allows the complex
                                        symbiosis between bacteria, enzymes, and all other elements that make
                                        a up soil. So, maybe it's healthier to dig deeper (no pun intended)
                                        into a subject before making up ones mind and crystalizing a
                                        opinion...

                                        --- In fukuoka_farming@yahoogroups.com, Robert Monie <bobm20001@...>
                                        wrote:
                                        >
                                        > Hi Allan,
                                        >
                                        > Thank you for your excellent observations. Fish, of course,
                                        bring us back to seaweed (which many fish consume and which contains
                                        many trace elements besides the supposedly main element of carbon)
                                        and bonemeal (composed of calcium and phosphorus), from time
                                        immemorial staples of organic farming. Silica is also present in the
                                        form of ceramics and clays. Without silica (silicon), plants sag and
                                        fall; imagine cane or grass growing with only carbon to hold it up:
                                        bamboo fields would look like wet noodles drooping in a plate. Human
                                        waste further skewers the formula that carbon = fertility since human
                                        waste includes everything from maganese to molebdyum. The 11th
                                        commandment is or should be "Thou shalt not reduce complexity to one
                                        element." Or, as that famous non-believer H. L. Menken said, "For
                                        every complex question there is a simple answer, and it is always
                                        wrong." In composing the periodic table (surely one of the greatest
                                        achievements of the miserable human race) Mendelev
                                        > did not beat his chest Tarzan ape-man-like and proclaim "Me
                                        carbon, you Jane." He wisely grouped the elements according to their
                                        properties, with hydrogen first and space left for all the heavy
                                        radioactive ones, natural and man-made (or human-induced, if you
                                        prefer). Life at every level is diversity, from the lepton to the
                                        atom to the molecule to the cell to the tissue groups to the systems
                                        to the plants and animals and other forms, to the local ecologies, to
                                        the biosphere, to Gaia. Gaia is GEOLOGY (everything mostly besides
                                        carbon), water (hydrogen and oxygen), and living things together;
                                        that means all the elements in Mendeleev's table, a vast cosmic
                                        rainbow. It takes "rocks and gravel" and water, along with carbon, to
                                        make a mighty world (to paraphrase an old American slave work song),
                                        and carbon "ain't nothing special."
                                        >
                                        > Personally, I tell carbon ("char") to go sit down and take its
                                        place in the bleachers along with the other players. It isn't any
                                        superstar. It has a role to play along with the other elements, and
                                        if its supporters cheer too much, in order to prevent carbon getting
                                        too big a head, we need to call "foul" and eject them from the game
                                        or better still, sentence them to copy the periodic table at least
                                        100 times, pronouncing the names as they go along (and also reciting
                                        the known contribution many of these wonderful elements make to plant
                                        and human nutrition). .
                                        >
                                        > If it takes a village to raise a child, it takes a periodic table
                                        of all the elements to bring forth and sustain life on this earth. If
                                        we start inventing carbon idols, worshipping them, and devising
                                        strange myth/theologies in defense of our idol, we will become the
                                        laughing stock of the sustainable farming community.
                                        >
                                        >
                                        > Disbelieving in carbon char as the elixir and mystical bringer of
                                        life and all plant fertility,
                                        >
                                        > Bob Monie
                                        > New Orleans, LA
                                        > Zone 8
                                        > Ashes to Ashes, the day after Ash Wednesday. Ashes often contain
                                        sodium, titanium, potassium, calcium, silicon, aluminium, magnesium,
                                        iron, iodine, etc.
                                        >
                                        >
                                        >
                                        > Allan Balliett <aballiett@...> wrote:
                                        > No doubt that the terra preta soils are healthy.
                                        >
                                        > I was just reading Glaser's AMAZON SOILS book yesterday.
                                        >
                                        > It's repeatedly pointed out in various reports in that book that
                                        char
                                        > or no char, another characteristic of the soils is that human waste
                                        > and fish waste were heavily incorporated into these soils over, in
                                        > most cases, hundreds of years of time.
                                        >
                                        > It's hard to do the American thing and decide that "it's just the
                                        > charcoal" that makes these soils so special.
                                        >
                                        > Also, as little as a year ago people were saying "terra preta
                                        > involves putting pottery shards and charcoal into the ground" now
                                        we
                                        > are just hearing "char," and the pottery part seems to be being
                                        > ignored.
                                        >
                                        > Worse, it has become clear that some of the examples we had last
                                        year
                                        > of bio-char causing great growth to the soil in short order
                                        actually
                                        > involved impregnating the char with chemmy nitrogen before burying.
                                        >
                                        > There's a lot more to be learned about terra preta before we poor
                                        > dirt farmers need to spend a lot of time or energy making char and
                                        > digging it into the soil.
                                        >
                                        > -Allan Balliett
                                        > Shepherdstown, WV
                                        >
                                        >
                                        >
                                        >
                                        >
                                        > [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
                                        >






                                        [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
                                      • Jeff
                                        ... Yes, many of the studies about bio-char use chemical nitrogen to amend the bio-char, ... The basic problem is that Terra-praeta is complex, and
                                        Message 19 of 25 , Feb 8 7:26 PM
                                        • 0 Attachment
                                          > PS:
                                          > Jeff, do you care to comment on something that Allan
                                          > mentioned in his post, namely that chemical nitrogen was
                                          > used in field tests with charcoal to offset the effect of the
                                          > carbon. Wouldn't that make things rather difficult for organic
                                          > farmers?
                                          >
                                          Yes, many of the studies about bio-char use chemical nitrogen to amend
                                          the bio-char, ...
                                          The basic problem is that Terra-praeta is complex, and reductionist
                                          science does dominate western thought.
                                          Early on, based on several advantages mentioned
                                        • Jeff
                                          - ... Yes, it is true that several experients on bio-char used chemical nitrogen to fertilize and balance available nitrogen. This is of course a symptom of
                                          Message 20 of 25 , Feb 8 7:51 PM
                                          • 0 Attachment
                                            -
                                            > PS:
                                            > Jeff, do you care to comment on something that Allan
                                            > mentioned in his post, namely that chemical nitrogen was
                                            > used in field tests with charcoal to offset the effect of the
                                            > carbon. Wouldn't that make things rather difficult for organic
                                            > farmers?

                                            Yes, it is true that several experients on bio-char used chemical
                                            nitrogen to fertilize and balance available nitrogen.

                                            This is of course a symptom of reductionist western science. Because
                                            Terra Praeta is complex, the earliest attempts includes experiment
                                            that involve breaking terra praeta into its constituent parts.
                                            Imediately bio-char stuck out as highly promising.

                                            As previously mentioned it has several advantages for being included
                                            in a system. THe biggest one is of course its ability to hold onto
                                            nutrients and not let them leach.

                                            Leaching is a huge concern (DEAD ZONES, RED TIDES) . In the midwest it
                                            is estimated and only 50-75% of the nitrogen applied is used by crops,
                                            the rest is lost.

                                            That being said, it is quite easy for organic farmers to find Nitrogen
                                            sources that would stay with the land for a relatively long period,.

                                            N fixation by legumes would last for several seasons rather than just one

                                            Fertilizationg with urea (urine) would also result in increase
                                            effieicncy. Lower volitalization and lower leaching would result

                                            Fertilization with manure or compost would likewise have enhanced
                                            benefits.

                                            That being said, the experient deisngs are meant to compare, chemical
                                            nitrogen, vs a ''fertile' bio-char soil. the easiliest and fastest
                                            (and easily reductive way) is to measure it and put it in there with
                                            chemicals. What would be interesting if these (none that i"ve found),
                                            stuck with the experiment for several years, with replicates not
                                            reciveing addition fertilizer etc, just a one time deal.

                                            the increased and modified microbial community would likewise be of
                                            interest, but our understand, and even identifying the players in this
                                            complex are at a very very rudimentary level,.

                                            In terms of soil fertility, nitrogen is the most easy element to
                                            replentish in a broken soil, even easier than char-bon

                                            To me, its important what happens in the long-run, not the short-term.

                                            you are in alaska, you want to get to sweden,
                                            there are two routes, you can fly east-west and take forever, or you
                                            can fly over the pole and be there shortly.

                                            clearly the sooner you get to there the better for you and the world.

                                            If the goal is to produce sustainable agriculture in degraded areas,
                                            the sooner you can get there the better. Even if it takes distasteful
                                            short cuts, in the long run you got where you need to go.

                                            I read so much about how some first world gov't or company comes in
                                            ,to help the third world and leaves without provided continuity.

                                            If you give someone food, they won't starve, but as soon as you pull
                                            out, they are back where they started (prolly starving),

                                            if you give them hybrid seed, again they won't starve... but they
                                            can't reuse the seed, and can't afford it when you leave... also they
                                            may give bad yeilds because poorly adapted and no chemical fertilizer,

                                            if you teach them how save seed (most of them know already), and
                                            create opporunties for long-term benefits (improved cooking stoves,
                                            pressing oil, etc) you've made a difference.

                                            jeff
                                          • Dieter Brand
                                            Jeff, Thanks for bringing light into the carbon jungle. So, terra preta can _in theory_ work with organic farming. We ll just have to wait for that to be
                                            Message 21 of 25 , Feb 9 1:50 AM
                                            • 0 Attachment
                                              Jeff,

                                              Thanks for bringing light into the carbon jungle.

                                              So, terra preta can _in theory_ work with organic farming.
                                              We'll just have to wait for that to be demonstrated by
                                              field tests.

                                              But what about no-till? That after all is a requirement
                                              in Natural Farming. Are we back to the one-time-deal
                                              or would regular surface applications with smaller doses
                                              be an option?

                                              I can understand your point about leaching of nutrients.
                                              But that again is first and foremost a problem in
                                              conventional chemicals-based agriculture, and doesn't
                                              that much concern organic farming, and would concern
                                              even less natural farming - if it were practiced.

                                              Painting a bit of a drastic picture, one could perhaps
                                              conclude that terra preta then provides the means for
                                              continuing conventional chemicals-based agriculture,
                                              thus making superfluous the need to convert to a more
                                              sustainable form of agriculture and healthy way of
                                              growing food.

                                              Except, in this scenario too, there is a contradiction
                                              in that all those microbes that seem to find shelter
                                              in the apartment complexes of terra preta may not
                                              be able to enjoy such luxury for long in conventional
                                              agriculture with all its toxic chemicals designed to
                                              kill off all forms of soil life.

                                              Dieter

                                              PS: Just out of curiosity. Does "chemmy remmy"
                                              have the same connotations with you as what is
                                              usually signified by "Remmi-Demmi" in German?

                                              Jeff <shultonus@...> wrote:
                                              -
                                              > PS:
                                              > Jeff, do you care to comment on something that Allan
                                              > mentioned in his post, namely that chemical nitrogen was
                                              > used in field tests with charcoal to offset the effect of the
                                              > carbon. Wouldn't that make things rather difficult for organic
                                              > farmers?

                                              Yes, it is true that several experients on bio-char used chemical
                                              nitrogen to fertilize and balance available nitrogen.

                                              This is of course a symptom of reductionist western science. Because
                                              Terra Praeta is complex, the earliest attempts includes experiment
                                              that involve breaking terra praeta into its constituent parts.
                                              Imediately bio-char stuck out as highly promising.

                                              As previously mentioned it has several advantages for being included
                                              in a system. THe biggest one is of course its ability to hold onto
                                              nutrients and not let them leach.

                                              Leaching is a huge concern (DEAD ZONES, RED TIDES) . In the midwest it
                                              is estimated and only 50-75% of the nitrogen applied is used by crops,
                                              the rest is lost.

                                              That being said, it is quite easy for organic farmers to find Nitrogen
                                              sources that would stay with the land for a relatively long period,.

                                              N fixation by legumes would last for several seasons rather than just one

                                              Fertilizationg with urea (urine) would also result in increase
                                              effieicncy. Lower volitalization and lower leaching would result

                                              Fertilization with manure or compost would likewise have enhanced
                                              benefits.

                                              That being said, the experient deisngs are meant to compare, chemical
                                              nitrogen, vs a ''fertile' bio-char soil. the easiliest and fastest
                                              (and easily reductive way) is to measure it and put it in there with
                                              chemicals. What would be interesting if these (none that i"ve found),
                                              stuck with the experiment for several years, with replicates not
                                              reciveing addition fertilizer etc, just a one time deal.

                                              the increased and modified microbial community would likewise be of
                                              interest, but our understand, and even identifying the players in this
                                              complex are at a very very rudimentary level,.

                                              In terms of soil fertility, nitrogen is the most easy element to
                                              replentish in a broken soil, even easier than char-bon

                                              To me, its important what happens in the long-run, not the short-term.

                                              you are in alaska, you want to get to sweden,
                                              there are two routes, you can fly east-west and take forever, or you
                                              can fly over the pole and be there shortly.

                                              clearly the sooner you get to there the better for you and the world.

                                              If the goal is to produce sustainable agriculture in degraded areas,
                                              the sooner you can get there the better. Even if it takes distasteful
                                              short cuts, in the long run you got where you need to go.

                                              I read so much about how some first world gov't or company comes in
                                              ,to help the third world and leaves without provided continuity.

                                              If you give someone food, they won't starve, but as soon as you pull
                                              out, they are back where they started (prolly starving),

                                              if you give them hybrid seed, again they won't starve... but they
                                              can't reuse the seed, and can't afford it when you leave... also they
                                              may give bad yeilds because poorly adapted and no chemical fertilizer,

                                              if you teach them how save seed (most of them know already), and
                                              create opporunties for long-term benefits (improved cooking stoves,
                                              pressing oil, etc) you've made a difference.

                                              jeff






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                                            • Elsa Santos
                                              Hi Bob, You re so right... You know, as crazy as main stream, mechanicist science finds it, I believe there is a lot more to life then chemical composition.
                                              Message 22 of 25 , Feb 9 3:48 AM
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                                                Hi Bob,

                                                You're so right... You know, as crazy as main stream, mechanicist
                                                science finds it, I believe there is a lot more to life then chemical
                                                composition. All the subtlety that pioneers like Rudolph Steiner
                                                (although I don't like the dogmatic attitudes I've seen in most of
                                                his followers) and Masaru Emoto and his Messages in Water (hado.net),
                                                etc... are on to something that science is only beginning to take
                                                seriously. Maybe there is a lot more to Einsteins Elegant Universe,
                                                Super String and the theory of everything. Maybe that realization was
                                                part of Fukuoka's "satori" regaring farming practices... Who knows...
                                                Here is an interesting project that bridges both current scientific
                                                currents and possible the future ones:
                                                http://www.heartmath.org/gcms/index.html

                                                ... and speaking of ashes, but for something completely different,
                                                here's something beautiful: www.ashesandsnow.org

                                                Have a great week =D
                                                Elsa


                                                --- In fukuoka_farming@yahoogroups.com, Robert Monie <bobm20001@...>
                                                wrote:
                                                >
                                                > Hi Elsa,
                                                >
                                                > Yes, agriculture works by complex systems, not Swinging Big-Stuff
                                                Casey Carbon at the Bat (Remember in that famous poem Casey Carbon
                                                had lots of confidence, swagger, scary muscles, and a loud cheering
                                                squad, but--he struck out). Terra Preta, the complex system, is
                                                undoubtedly worthy of great attention and deep study. If I could buy
                                                a bag of the stuff, I would try it out (what is the going price,
                                                $6,000 a cubic foot?) The question is, as you have suggested, not
                                                how much "char" (whatever exactly that is) to add, but how do you
                                                encourage Nature to put together a complex system like Terra Preta
                                                (which contains the whole elemental alphabet plus innumerable living
                                                and nonliving, organic and inorganic molecular constituents, few of
                                                which begin with the letter "C," and only one of which is spelled C-a-
                                                r-b-o-n. Let's not forget the "R" word, ROOTS. If roots grow deep
                                                enough and the environment treats them just right, they and their
                                                tiny microbial allies may produce Terra
                                                > Preta, with only the bare minimum of assistance from the "Big-C."
                                                >
                                                > Carbon-idolatry is a sin against the natural systems of the
                                                world. Instead, let's find out how Terra Preta actually works in its
                                                alphabet-soupyness and grow comparable systems in our gardens and
                                                fields.
                                                >
                                                > Best wishes,
                                                >
                                                > Bob Monie
                                                > New Orleans, LA
                                                > Zone 8
                                                > Elsa Santos <elsamagosa@...> wrote:
                                                > After doing a bit of research on dark, rich soils, it
                                                seems
                                                > that "char" is not that simple, and that living whole organisms
                                                such
                                                > as terra preta and mulata, that are so complex and are able
                                                > to "reproduce" themselves infinitely (if you take a layer of one
                                                > meter of terra preta off a site and come back one year later, the
                                                > same amount you took out of terra preta will have regrown by then)-
                                                > are the result of all organic matter + chunks of partially burned,
                                                at
                                                > slow, low temperature of still green (resin rich) woods and green
                                                > crop left overs. Apparently that's the mix that allows the complex
                                                > symbiosis between bacteria, enzymes, and all other elements that
                                                make
                                                > a up soil. So, maybe it's healthier to dig deeper (no pun intended)
                                                > into a subject before making up ones mind and crystalizing a
                                                > opinion...
                                                >
                                                > --- In fukuoka_farming@yahoogroups.com, Robert Monie <bobm20001@>
                                                > wrote:
                                                > >
                                                > > Hi Allan,
                                                > >
                                                > > Thank you for your excellent observations. Fish, of course,
                                                > bring us back to seaweed (which many fish consume and which
                                                contains
                                                > many trace elements besides the supposedly main element of carbon)
                                                > and bonemeal (composed of calcium and phosphorus), from time
                                                > immemorial staples of organic farming. Silica is also present in
                                                the
                                                > form of ceramics and clays. Without silica (silicon), plants sag
                                                and
                                                > fall; imagine cane or grass growing with only carbon to hold it up:
                                                > bamboo fields would look like wet noodles drooping in a plate.
                                                Human
                                                > waste further skewers the formula that carbon = fertility since
                                                human
                                                > waste includes everything from maganese to molebdyum. The 11th
                                                > commandment is or should be "Thou shalt not reduce complexity to
                                                one
                                                > element." Or, as that famous non-believer H. L. Menken said, "For
                                                > every complex question there is a simple answer, and it is always
                                                > wrong." In composing the periodic table (surely one of the greatest
                                                > achievements of the miserable human race) Mendelev
                                                > > did not beat his chest Tarzan ape-man-like and proclaim "Me
                                                > carbon, you Jane." He wisely grouped the elements according to
                                                their
                                                > properties, with hydrogen first and space left for all the heavy
                                                > radioactive ones, natural and man-made (or human-induced, if you
                                                > prefer). Life at every level is diversity, from the lepton to the
                                                > atom to the molecule to the cell to the tissue groups to the
                                                systems
                                                > to the plants and animals and other forms, to the local ecologies,
                                                to
                                                > the biosphere, to Gaia. Gaia is GEOLOGY (everything mostly besides
                                                > carbon), water (hydrogen and oxygen), and living things together;
                                                > that means all the elements in Mendeleev's table, a vast cosmic
                                                > rainbow. It takes "rocks and gravel" and water, along with carbon,
                                                to
                                                > make a mighty world (to paraphrase an old American slave work
                                                song),
                                                > and carbon "ain't nothing special."
                                                > >
                                                > > Personally, I tell carbon ("char") to go sit down and take its
                                                > place in the bleachers along with the other players. It isn't any
                                                > superstar. It has a role to play along with the other elements, and
                                                > if its supporters cheer too much, in order to prevent carbon
                                                getting
                                                > too big a head, we need to call "foul" and eject them from the game
                                                > or better still, sentence them to copy the periodic table at least
                                                > 100 times, pronouncing the names as they go along (and also
                                                reciting
                                                > the known contribution many of these wonderful elements make to
                                                plant
                                                > and human nutrition). .
                                                > >
                                                > > If it takes a village to raise a child, it takes a periodic table
                                                > of all the elements to bring forth and sustain life on this earth.
                                                If
                                                > we start inventing carbon idols, worshipping them, and devising
                                                > strange myth/theologies in defense of our idol, we will become the
                                                > laughing stock of the sustainable farming community.
                                                > >
                                                > >
                                                > > Disbelieving in carbon char as the elixir and mystical bringer of
                                                > life and all plant fertility,
                                                > >
                                                > > Bob Monie
                                                > > New Orleans, LA
                                                > > Zone 8
                                                > > Ashes to Ashes, the day after Ash Wednesday. Ashes often contain
                                                > sodium, titanium, potassium, calcium, silicon, aluminium,
                                                magnesium,
                                                > iron, iodine, etc.
                                                > >
                                                > >
                                                > >
                                                > > Allan Balliett <aballiett@> wrote:
                                                > > No doubt that the terra preta soils are healthy.
                                                > >
                                                > > I was just reading Glaser's AMAZON SOILS book yesterday.
                                                > >
                                                > > It's repeatedly pointed out in various reports in that book that
                                                > char
                                                > > or no char, another characteristic of the soils is that human
                                                waste
                                                > > and fish waste were heavily incorporated into these soils over,
                                                in
                                                > > most cases, hundreds of years of time.
                                                > >
                                                > > It's hard to do the American thing and decide that "it's just the
                                                > > charcoal" that makes these soils so special.
                                                > >
                                                > > Also, as little as a year ago people were saying "terra preta
                                                > > involves putting pottery shards and charcoal into the ground" now
                                                > we
                                                > > are just hearing "char," and the pottery part seems to be being
                                                > > ignored.
                                                > >
                                                > > Worse, it has become clear that some of the examples we had last
                                                > year
                                                > > of bio-char causing great growth to the soil in short order
                                                > actually
                                                > > involved impregnating the char with chemmy nitrogen before
                                                burying.
                                                > >
                                                > > There's a lot more to be learned about terra preta before we poor
                                                > > dirt farmers need to spend a lot of time or energy making char
                                                and
                                                > > digging it into the soil.
                                                > >
                                                > > -Allan Balliett
                                                > > Shepherdstown, WV
                                                > >
                                                > >
                                                > >
                                                > >
                                                > >
                                                > > [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
                                                > >
                                                >
                                                >
                                                >
                                                >
                                                >
                                                >
                                                > [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
                                                >
                                              • Jeff
                                                ... No till should be no problem, your normal fertilization regime will work (although enhanced)or if you use none, the natural processes will lose less and
                                                Message 23 of 25 , Feb 9 10:42 AM
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                                                  > But what about no-till? That after all is a requirement
                                                  > in Natural Farming. Are we back to the one-time-deal
                                                  > or would regular surface applications with smaller doses
                                                  > be an option?

                                                  No till should be no problem, your normal fertilization regime will
                                                  work (although enhanced)or if you use none, the natural processes will
                                                  lose less and the result should be a higher functioning system

                                                  and doesn't
                                                  > that much concern organic farming, and would concern
                                                  > even less natural farming - if it were practiced.

                                                  While organic farming does have less leaching than conventional, it is
                                                  far from none. (I haven't seen data on natural farming).
                                                  I'm thinking in geologic scales here, and this of course applies much
                                                  much more in humid regions. All soils lose nutrients though geologic
                                                  time, they are leached and lost due to ersion. This is true even in
                                                  natural habitat like Rain Forests...

                                                  >
                                                  > Painting a bit of a drastic picture, one could perhaps
                                                  > conclude that terra preta then provides the means for
                                                  > continuing conventional chemicals-based agriculture,
                                                  > thus making superfluous the need to convert to a more
                                                  > sustainable form of agriculture and healthy way of
                                                  > growing food.
                                                  > Except, in this scenario too, there is a contradiction
                                                  > in that all those microbes that seem to find shelter
                                                  > in the apartment complexes of terra preta may not
                                                  > be able to enjoy such luxury for long in conventional
                                                  > agriculture with all its toxic chemicals designed to
                                                  > kill off all forms of soil life.
                                                  >
                                                  While it does allow conventional agriculture to continue, as mentioned
                                                  previously I beleive it is a baby step in the right direction.
                                                  As yeilds become a higher and higher priorty and the crops eventually
                                                  hit the biological maximum through breeding, treating the soil will
                                                  become more and more important over time.

                                                  > PS: Just out of curiosity. Does "chemmy remmy"
                                                  > have the same connotations with you as what is
                                                  > usually signified by "Remmi-Demmi" in German?
                                                  >

                                                  Chemical Remedy -chemmy remmy
                                                  I don't speak a lick of German
                                                • Dieter Brand
                                                  ... Now, I m glad I asked. I thought your were talking of having a bit of the hullabaloo or perhaps an old-fashioned board game, which is what the similar
                                                  Message 24 of 25 , Feb 9 11:25 AM
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                                                    > Chemical Remedy -chemmy remmy

                                                    Now, I'm glad I asked. I thought your were talking of
                                                    having a bit of the hullabaloo or perhaps an old-fashioned
                                                    board game, which is what the similar sounding
                                                    German term refers to.

                                                    Dieter


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                                                  • Nakka Sai Bhaskar Reddy
                                                    Dear All, This is an interesting article published in Scientific American on terra preta. Special Report: Inspired by Ancient Amazonians, a Plan to Convert
                                                    Message 25 of 25 , Feb 19 8:34 PM
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                                                      Dear All,

                                                      This is an interesting article published in Scientific American on
                                                      terra preta.

                                                      "Special Report: Inspired by Ancient Amazonians, a Plan to Convert
                                                      Trash into Environmental Treasure
                                                      New bill in U.S. Senate will advocate adoption of "agrichar" method
                                                      that could lessen our dependence on fossil fuel and help avert
                                                      global warming
                                                      By Anne Casselman"

                                                      http://www.sciam.com/article.cfm?id=5670236C-E7F2-99DF-
                                                      3E2163B9FB144E40&page=3

                                                      Dr. N. Sai Bhaskar Reddy
                                                      http://www.e-geo.org


                                                      --- In fukuoka_farming@yahoogroups.com, Dieter Brand <diebrand@...>
                                                      wrote:
                                                      >
                                                      > >There is a quite a lot of information online about the background
                                                      > >and current research and progress.
                                                      >
                                                      > John, many thanks for posting the terra preta links.
                                                      Unfortunately,
                                                      > my Internet connection isn't up to watching videos online. And,
                                                      > most of us find that eyesight decreases in direct proportion to
                                                      > the increase in age, which makes us rather more selective about
                                                      > what we read and what not. I had thus hoped, however selfishly,
                                                      > that the gentleman from India would be inclined to share his
                                                      > experience in this matter so as to remove all doubts from our
                                                      > mind.
                                                      >
                                                      > Dieter Brand
                                                      > Portugal
                                                      >
                                                      > johnmacmot <johnmacmot@...> wrote:
                                                      > The Terra Preta phenomenon is something I've recently
                                                      become aware of myself. There is
                                                      > a quite a lot of information online about the background and
                                                      current research and
                                                      > progress.
                                                      >
                                                      > here are some good starting links:
                                                      > Horizon documentary that does a useful job of outlining the Terra
                                                      Preta origins and
                                                      > characteristics in the Amazon Basin -
                                                      http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=-
                                                      > 2809044795781727003&q=amazon+bbc&pr=goog-sl
                                                      >
                                                      > The Cornell University site where quite a lot of research work has
                                                      been focused:
                                                      >
                                                      http://www.css.cornell.edu/faculty/lehmann/terra_preta/TerraPretahome
                                                      .htm
                                                      >
                                                      > The main discussion forum on the subject:
                                                      > http://forums.hypography.com/terra-preta.html
                                                      >
                                                      > If you dig around these sites you will get a good picture of an
                                                      interesting and potentially
                                                      > quite significant subject.
                                                      >
                                                      > John McFadgen
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