Here’s a quick nugget of information for today.
Scientists have discovered that adding charcoal or other charred materials to soil is a much more effective fertilizer than any methods currently in use. The main reason for this is that though land is naturally carbon-rich, over time and with increased use, retillage, etc, the carbon-rich materials break down into carbon dioxide and are released into the atmosphere. Most fertilizers available today, even composts, break down quickly and are therefore only short-term solutions to soil depletion. However, using charcoal in the soil adds a component that easily absorbs water, holds nutrients for thousands of years, and provides rich minerals to plants that access it. The study, released by the American Chemical Society, must not have been music to their ears. BioChar, or “black gold” for agriculture, as they term it, has been shown to remain in the soil for long periods of time and to retain its nutrient rich status. Read the whole article below for more details.
I wonder myself if this is why American Indian populations used fire periodically to renew agricultiral areas. Not only does this clear underbrush, leaving the land open for cultivation, it also provides a thick layer of BioChar available to be tilled into the soil. If so, as is often the case, our native brothers and sisters were far ahead of the ecological curve in sustainable garden design.