Reversing climate change and reducing world hunger seem to be rather lofty goals for a type of soil, but the authors of Terra Preta make strong arguments to turn to ancestral traditional knowledge as a way out of our current environmental and social problems.
There are few agricultural inputs that can transcend the boundaries of various forms of agriculture, yet many conventional, organic and biodynamic farmers espouse the merits of a fermented cocktail generically referred to as EM.
Most organic growers know that a huge number of living organisms are found in just a spoonful of soil. But this diversity is not evenly distributed. Much of soil could be viewed as a desert, but occasionally one comes to an oasis filled with life. These oases are where plant roots are.
The amount of water that can be stored in a soil has a big impact on the efficiency of water capture and use. When the storage capacity is low, much of the rain that falls during extended periods of precipitation is lost. In contrast, a high water storage capacity, combined with the effective capture of rain and snowmelt over the fall, winter and spring can support a crop through an extended dry period.
“A cloak of loose, soft material, held to the Earth's hard surface by gravity, is all that lies between life and lifelessness.”