Thursday, February 28, 2008

Terra Preta: Soils from the Past

Recent archaeological studies have brought to light the fact that ancient cultures learned how to live in harmony with their environment by creating nutrient rich soils that could promote and nourish agricultural surpluses capable of sustaining large numbers of people. The ancient cultures of South America, it appears, had an understanding that modern inhabitants of the area lack. This understanding states clearly that you should "slash and char" instead of "slash and burn". From research done it is clear that ancient cultures would burn the trees to a point that they would leave charred wood behind instead of just ash. It is apparent from analysis done in the region that ash is quickly washed away by rain while charred wood is left behind to be integrated into the soil and thus is generated into nutrients that are desired in agriculture. The South American soil is predominantly infertile except for in the areas that researchers have discovered were inhabited by ancient civilizations. While current farmers just cut the rain forest down and destroy it's potential, the ancestors of these farmers knew that they could regenerate the soil and provide food for their people. Modern farmers just move along to the next available plot while destroying untold amounts of valuable organic information that could be used in medicine, biology, or other areas of human growth potential.

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