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Biochar: Ancient Method for Long-Term Soil-Building

| 11/26/2019 11:23:00 AM


Photo by Natural Resources Conservation Service Oregon

I was interested in falconry in my grade-school years, and became quite proficient at tree climbing, although I never had any safety equipment. Something unheard of today. We were never to let our mothers know just exactly what we did setting loose upon the countryside every Saturday morning. We just came home dirty, tired and hungry, sometimes arriving with a meat-hungry chicken hawk in a wicker basket. In time, I became a certified arborist and the owner-operator of a small tree service.

Whenever I had sick trees, an arborist friend would come and do his magic to save the trees. He, unlike some others, was invariably successful, bringing back to life seemingly hopeless cases. His methods of patient recovery involved surveying and often reintroducing life back into the soil. This at a time when everyone else was using macronutrient NPK chemical fertilizers, which did more long-term harm than good. This skilled arborist taught me his recipe of organics, which he applied to the root zones of trees. He took me on an education of soil fertility, one that has become my most recent passion.

Biochar’s Ancient Roots

The ancient Mesoamericans knew about these methods of soil fertility, too. They used beneficial life in the soil to grow their food to a great degree. So much so, that these soils can still be found today, centuries after the great cultures have vanished. The first U.S. spy satellites in the late 1960s were showing blocks of South American jungle that were taller, greener, and thicker than the surrounding jungle. The intelligence community knew the blocks were man-made because of their geometry. But since there were no humans there, they sent out the archaeologists to study them. The denominator common to all the sites was that the dirt was very dark, almost black. That color in the soil was carbon in the form of charcoal.

12/14/2019 12:08:19 AM

That should be "reeking" pile not "wreaking."

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