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Terra preta in Australia
Terra preta is a very dark, fertile soil created by the addition of biochar. It was discovered in the Amazon Basin, where it dates from before European influence, and is being researched for its benefits in soil fertility and carbon sequestration.
Similar soils have been discovered in south-east Australia and are the subject of research.
Aboriginal terra preta soils
Terra preta soils in Australia, developed around Aboriginal midden sites where meals were prepared on cooking fires and in earthen ovens for many years along the Murray River. These are sometimes termed "Terra preta Australis" soils to distinguish them from the Amazonian soils.
Charcoal from the fires were applied to the soil around the camp. There is no evidence of these sites being used to grow anything - it is probable that the charcoal was simply dumped, and that the terra preta soils were created unintentionally. Nonetheless, this is an important resource for learning about the effects of charcoal applied to Australian soils.
Notes and references
- Enriching soil with biochar. The Science Show, ABC Radio National (Australian Broadcasting Corporation)
- Adriana Downie talks about Best Energies pyrolysis gasifier and making bio char, 3 Jun 2008, Beyond Zero Emissions.
Short news items:
- Turning willow waste into valuable biochar, 16 August 2012, Tasmanian Country Hour - ABC Rural (Australian Broadcasting Corporation).
- $2m boost for biochar research, Apr 24, 2012, ABC News (Australian Broadcasting Corporation)
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