[Market-farming] Charcoal in soil - Terra Preta

Bill Shoemaker wshoemak at inil.com
Fri Feb 9 08:47:23 EST 2007


This is an interesting topic. Wood is not much more than sugars (C-H-O) 
connected into lignins so wood becomes food for many microbes, particularly 
fungi. Creating charcoal probably changes the profile of the food content of 
wood, perhaps making it less palatable for some microbes, more palatable for 
others. What do you know about the actual food content of Terra Preta for 
AM? Does the charcoal become a long-term food substrate for the AM 
population? Do you know if this principle holds in temperate zone soils like 
our prairie soils in the Midwest? It's intriguing to me as I consider that 
prairie fires were a normal part of the cycle of soil-building in the 
prairie. But we no longer allow it for the most part. Thanks for your 
comments on Terra Preta.

Bill Shoemaker, Sr Research Specialist, Food Crops
University of Illinois - St Charles Horticulture Research Center

> Everyone should note that char raises pH and terra preta depends on a
> very active microbial community. 

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