Thursday, March 4, 2010

Cornell biogeochemist shows how reproducing the Amazon's black soil could increase fertility and reduce global warming

by Susan Lang, published by Cornell University (link below)

ST. LOUIS -- The search for El Dorado in the Amazonian rainforest might not have yielded pots of gold, but it has led to unearthing a different type of gold mine: some of the globe's richest soil that can transform poor soil into highly fertile ground.

That's not all. Scientists have a method to reproduce this soil -- known as terra preta, or Amazonian dark earths -- and say it can pull substantial amounts of carbon out of the increasing carbon dioxide in the Earth's atmosphere, helping to prevent global warming. That's because terra preta is loaded with so-called bio-char -- similar to charcoal.

To read the full article:

1 comment:

  1. To me, in the long run, the final arbiter / accountancy / measure of sustainability will be
    soil carbon content. Once this royal road is constructed, traffic cops ( Carbon Board ) in place, the truth of land-management and Biochar systems will be self-evident.

    The Ag Carbon standard is in the second phase of review by the AMS-ARC branch at USDA.

    A dream I've had for years is to base the coming carbon economy firmly on the foundation of top soils. My read of the agronomic history of civilization shows that the Kayopo Amazon Indians and the Egyptians were the only ones to maintain fertility for the long haul, millennium scales. Egypt has now forsaken their geologic advantage by building the Aswan dam, and are stuck, with the rest of us, in the soil C mining, NPK rat race to the bottom.

    With the Obama administration funding an inter-departmental climate effort of NASA, NOAA, USDA, & EPA, and now even the CIA is opening the data coffers, then soil carbon sensors may be less than 5 years away. I'm told by the Jet Propulsion Lab mission specialists responsible for the suite of earth sensing satellites, that they will be reading soil carbon using multiple proxy measurements in 5 years. Reading soil moisture to 3 foot dept in two year with SMAP, Reading GHG emissions and biomass from the tree tops down next year when the Orbital Carbon Observer (OCO, get it:) is rebooted, to 1 Ha resolution and don't even ask about the various spectrometric, lasers, UV, IR, lidars , ground-penetrating- radars, interferometry etc.

    Then, any farmer can click "Google Carbon maps" to see the soil carbon accounted to his good work, a level playing field to be a soil sink banker.
    The Moon Pie in the sky funding should be served to JPL
    Since we have filled the air , filling the seas to full, Soil is the Only Beneficial place left.
    Carbon to the Soil, the only ubiquitous and economic place to put it.


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