For chiliads, the indigenous peoples of the Amazon area had successfully applied the production process of the Terra Preta and it was closely linked to formerly urban agglomerations with highly-developed sanitary systems and material circuits.
To the present day, the re-discovered Terra Preta areas have remained unchanged in nature and are still agriculturally usable. Their age-long persistence against various natural and human influences is an astonishing phenomenon, which distinguishes the Terra Preta from all other common forms of soil.
Initially, in modern times, the manufacturing and application technique of Terra Preta had entirely fallen into oblivion. It has only been a few years since research activities worldwide have begun to reproduce this knowledge.
First, scientists concentrated on the history and development of Terra Preta, then their focus increasingly changed to its reproduction.
By means of intensive, application-oriented research and development work, the »areal« team of experts and researchers were the first to succeed in identifying the essential processes of the Terra Preta soil formation and to achieve its reproduction.
In the course of a study financed by the Rhineland-Palatinate Ministry of Environment these production processes have been optimized by means of field tests with scientific support. The potentials of the technology developed hereby have moreover been extracted as an integral part of an innovative circulation concept for the first production plant worldwide in the Morbach region (Hunsrück). This pilot plant is currently in its approval process and will be constructed in 2012.
The wide field of application of Terra Preta is promising and trendsetting.
Terra Preta will also play a key role in search of solution strategies for the environmental problems that exist today.
Terra Preta will contribute to a more efficient use of resources and to an improved environmental quality of existing land use systems (reduction of linear substrate losses, healthy vegetation, soil improvement etc.). Beyond that, Terra Preta has the potential to sustainably restore the missing functions of degraded soils (initial to the greening of deserts, the diminution of erosion, the increase of water storage capacity etc.).
For a range of climate- and soil-related problems, the application of Terra Preta can provide sustainable solutions. It will further the comprehensive development of sustainable land use systems and allow for multifunctional approaches (climate protection, productivity of soils and resources, efficiency and innovation, nature protection and biodiversity, regional value creation and molar flow management and so on).
The Potential of Terra Preta at a Glance
- comprehensive improvement of used soils (agriculture and forestry, horticulture)
- increase in areal productivity whilst protecting the resources (higher production output of food and biomass = reduction of hunger and production of energy)
- ecological production of food (reduction or substitution of the use of mineral fertiliser, sound growth, strong plants = little use of chemicals!)
- containment of the dehydration of whole areas (reduction of desertification and soil degradation)
- comprehensive erosion control (prevention of material losses in the area)
- flood water prevention through high water storage capacity
- creation of small hydrological cycles and improvement of local water households (soil as a water reservoir = careful treatment of water and climate)
- climate protection via the fixing of CO2 into soils (globally 9.5 gigatons of carbon per year possible!)
- climate protection via the reduction of methane and nitrous oxide in agriculture
- climate protection because efficient, resource-saving and sustainable land use systems are made possible
- cycling exploitation/recycling of organic biomass and waste, which are often not disposed of sensibly
- cost reduction in the area of public waste disposal
- creation of regional value creation chains and economic circuits
The »rediscovery« of Terra Preta holds a huge potential for the solution of numerous worldwide environmental problems and it can contribute to inducing a global sustainable development.