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News: FARMING FROM 6,000 YEARS AGO
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Ancient Soil Replenishment Technique Helps In Battle Against Global Warming

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Author Topic: Ancient Soil Replenishment Technique Helps In Battle Against Global Warming  (Read 164 times)
Bianca
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« on: December 20, 2008, 10:50:18 am »



The raw materials involved in the production of biochar.

(Credit:
Courtesy of
Mingxin Guo)








            Ancient Method, 'Black Gold Agriculture' May Revolutionize Farming, Curb Global Warming






ScienceDaily
(Apr. 15, 2008)

  Fifteen hundred years ago, tribes people from the central Amazon basin mixed their soil with charcoal derived from animal bone and tree bark. Today, at the site of this charcoal deposit, scientists have found some of the richest, most fertile soil in the world. Now this ancient, remarkably simple farming technique seems far ahead of the curve, holding promise as a carbon-negative strategy to rein in world hunger as well as greenhouse gases.

At the 235th national meeting of the American Chemical Society, scientists report that charcoal derived from heated biomass has an unprecedented ability to improve the fertility of soil -- one that surpasses compost, animal manure, and other well-known soil conditioners.

They also suggest that this so-called "biochar" profoundly enhances the natural carbon seizing ability of soil. Dubbed "black gold agriculture," scientists say this "revolutionary" farming technique can provide a cheap, straight-forward strategy to reduce greenhouse gases by trapping them in charcoal-laced soil.

"Charcoal fertilization can permanently increase soil organic matter content and improve soil quality, persisting in soil for hundreds to thousands of years," Mingxin Guo, Ph.D., and colleagues report. In what they describe as a "new and pioneering" ACS report -- the first systematic investigation of soil improvement by charcoal fertilization -- Guo found that soils receiving charcoal produced from organic wastes were much looser, absorbed significantly more water and nutrients and produced higher crop biomass. The authors, with Delaware State University, say "the results demonstrate that charcoal amendment is a revolutionary approach for long-term soil quality improvement."

Soil deterioration from depletion of organic matter is an increasingly serious global problem that contributes to hunger and malnutrition. Often a result of unsustainable farming, overuse of chemical fertilizers and drought, the main weapons to combat the problem --compost, animal manure and crop debris -- decompose rapidly.

"Earth's soil is the largest terrestrial pool of carbon," Guo said. "In other words, most of the earth's carbon is fixed in soil." But if this soil is intensively cultivated by tillage and chemical fertilization, organic matter in soil will be quickly decomposed into carbon dioxide by soil microbes and released into the atmosphere, leaving the soil compacted and nutrient-poor.
« Last Edit: December 20, 2008, 10:54:37 am by Bianca » Report Spam   Logged

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