The 'Terra Preta' phenomenon: a model for sustainable agriculture in the humid tropics

  title={The 'Terra Preta' phenomenon: a model for sustainable agriculture in the humid tropics},
  author={B. Glaser and L. Haumaier and G. Guggenberger and W. Zech},
Abstract. Many soils of the lowland humid tropics are thought to be too infertile to support sustainable agriculture. However, there is strong evidence that permanent or semi-permanent agriculture can itself create sustainably fertile soils known as 'Terra Preta' soils. These soils not only contain higher concentrations of nutrients such as nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium and calcium, but also greater amounts of stable soil organic matter. Frequent findings of charcoal and highly aromatic humic… Expand
Terra Pretas: Charcoal Amendments Influence on Relict Soils and Modern Agriculture.
The purpose of the paper is to investigate the soil organic matter and related properties of Terra Preta soils and to then relate them to modern sustainable agriculture. This paper is intended forExpand
Prehistorically modified soils of central Amazonia: a model for sustainable agriculture in the twenty-first century
  • B. Glaser
  • Environmental Science, Medicine
  • Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences
  • 2006
It is argued that generating new Terra Preta sites (‘Terra Preta nova’) could be the basis for sustainable agriculture in the twenty-first century to produce food for billions of people, and could lead to attaining three Millennium Development Goals. Expand
Identifying the Pre-Columbian Anthropogenic Input on Present Soil Properties of Amazonian Dark Earths (Terra Preta)
Soil degradation is one of the most serious problems of land use in the tropics, in particular the Neotropics, because the majority of the soils are very old, deeply weathered, and rather infertileExpand
Do Anthropogenic Dark Earths Occur in the Interior of Borneo? Some Initial Observations from East Kalimantan
Anthropogenic soils of the Amazon Basin (Terra Preta, Terra Mulata) reveal that pre-Colombian peoples made lasting improvements in the agricultural potential of nutrient-poor soils. Some have arguedExpand
History, Current Knowledge and Future Perspectives of Geoecological Research Concerning the Origin of Amazonian Anthropogenic Dark Earths (Terra Preta)
Soil degradation is one of the most severe problems of land use in the lowland humid tropics (Zech 1997) largely due to the fact that soil organic matter (SOM) is mineralized rapidly under theExpand
State of the scientific knowledge on properties and genesis of Anthropogenic Dark Earths in Central Amazonia (terra preta de Índio)
Abstract Tropical rainforests are highly important for the global climate regulation and for global biodiversity. However, these ecosystems are characterized by nutrient-poor and highly weatheredExpand
Potential of Pyrolyzed Organic Matter in Soil Amelioration
To secure food supply for the increasing population there is an urgent need to intensify the agricultural production especially in less developed countries of the tropics. There, soils are frequentlyExpand
Terra Preta Australis: Reassessing the carbon storage capacity of temperate soils
Soils developed on the sites of Australian Aboriginal oven mounds along the Murray River in SE Australia, classified as Cumulic Anthroposols under the Australian Soil Classification, are shown toExpand
Pyrogenic carbon in native grassland soils along a climosequence in North America
[1] Elucidating the role of pyrogenic carbon (Cpyr) as a global pool for CO2 sequestration in temperate ecosystems requires information on the contribution of Cpyr to soil organic carbon (SOC) acrossExpand
Ameliorating physical and chemical properties of highly weathered soils in the tropics with charcoal – a review
Abstract. Rapid turnover of organic matter leads to a low efficiency of organic fertilizers applied to increase and sequester C in soils of the humid tropics. Charcoal was reported to be responsibleExpand


The role of soil organic matter in sustaining soil fertility
MANY tropical soils are poor in inorganic nutrients and rely on the recycling of nutrients from soil organic matter to maintain fertility. In undisturbed rainforests such nutrients are recycled viaExpand
Amazon soils : a reconnaissance of the soils of the Brazilian Amazon region
The rather uniform soils of the Amazon Planalto proved to be mainly Kaolinitic Yellow Latosols, but various intergrades toward Groundwater Laterites and Red Yellow Podzolic soils were shown to exist. Expand
Charred organic carbon in German chernozemic soils
Summary Burning vegetation produces partly charred plant material which subsequently could contribute to the highly refractory proportion of soil organic matter. The presence of charred organicExpand
1he increase in the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is a major global concern because of the possibility of changing the world's climate. Present trends in use of fossil fuels and the ex­Expand
Assessing Ecological Sustainability of Slash‐and‐Burn Agriculture through Soil Fertility Indicators
The objective of this study was to assess the near- and long-term impact of traditional slash-and-burn agriculture on soil fertility in the village of Kembera, West Kalimantan, Indonesia. SoilExpand
Black carbon in soils and sediments: Analysis, distribution, implications, and current challenges
This review highlights the ubiquity of black carbon (BC) produced by incomplete combustion of plant material and fossil fuels in peats, soils, and lacustrine and marine sediments. We examine variousExpand
A Bluff Model of Riverine Settlement in Prehistoric Amazonia
In Amazonia, prehistoric settlement was especially concentrated along the major rivers. This has been explained by the superior soil and wildlife resources of the floodplain (varzea) compared to theExpand
The effects of vegetation and burning on the chemical composition of soil organic matter in a volcanic ash soil as shown by 13C NMR spectroscopy. I. Whole soil and humic acid fraction
Soil samples were collected from the surface mineral horizon (Ah horizon) of four adjacent soils (sites I, II, III, IV) and one remote soil (site V) derived from volcanic ash in Japan. The fourExpand
Black carbon in density fractions of anthropogenic soils of the Brazilian Amazon region
Abstract Frequent charcoal findings together with black carbon concentrations in the soil organic matter (SOM) of up to 35% provided evidence that black carbon is important for the SOM stability inExpand
ABSTRACT The occurrence of numerous areas of black soil associated with potsherds in Amazonia has stirred controversy on the origins of the soil type and its significance in terms of precontactExpand