Can organic compost revive a dead plant?

Terra preta and rainforest

In the soils of the subtropics of Africa, South America or Australia as well as some other arid regions of the world, there are usually no humus layers of essential importance. Even in tropical areas, the humus layer is usually only very thin, as is known from rainforests. The high temperatures there ensure a very rapid mineralization of all organic substances and do not allow the formation of humus layers, as do the comparatively thin layers of leaves and other material that has just fallen from the plants. Due to the high temperatures and moisture, every humus there mineralizes faster than it is produced by the plants. This is why these soils degrade so quickly and often within a few years compared to our soils in the northern hemisphere when the supply of organic matter is cut off due to deforestation or slash and burn, and existing humus is eroded or mineralized and washed out in a very short time. Such humus soils can only be found in river valleys, which in turn are regularly affected by flooding as residential and arable land.

The creation and use of fertile soils with Terra Preta would significantly counteract the overexploitation, since more fertile soils would make the clearing of forests for new arable land superfluous, especially as it is done with fire during slash and burn in almost all tropical and subtropical regions of the world. Slash and burn is a far worse evil than the greed of the forestry in the countries of the third world, because the latter causes damage, but can only use the big trees. After that, the smallholders usually come and leave nothing left. However, the same applies to the large agricultural corporations, which are no better either.

Terra Preta and Food Production and Energy Requirements

The creation of Terra Preta soils is of great interest in tropical and subtropical regions of the world in order to improve the yields of the soils there, which otherwise tend to produce very little. And these comparatively poor soils, which often only consist of laterite, are found there much more than fertile areas.

The technical and manual workload is significantly minimized and simplified on Terra Preta floors, as these floors are healthier than others and a better status of parasitic hygiene is achieved in the soil itself due to the charcoal content, just as charcoal dust also treats wounds on plants and can be disinfected. Symptoms of illness decrease, fertility increases. Two very valuable properties that help save fertilizer, labor and energy. Another, third advantage is that less space is required, since e.g. in Third World countries no new areas have to be destroyed by further, nature-destroying slash and burn for impoverished, depleted soils. Existing jungle is preserved. Instead, dead soils are revitalized and usable in a most natural way.

The founder and operator of Mein Garten Ratgeber, Paul Schlagheck, lived in Africa for a number of years and supported and managed projects that dealt with the improvement of arable land for local farmers as well as with forest and reforestation projects by German companies. The TU Berlin has also carried out research on plantations in Mozambique with positive results, in which Paul Schlagheck also contributed.

The Terra Preta was produced for test purposes to improve the growing beds and as soil for the forestry young plant production as well as on training areas and local smallholder areas by introducing certain amounts of charcoal into the soil in order to both promote the cultivation of young plants and to promote food production increase.

Terra Preta against climate change

For several years there have also been projects and ideas to support the fight against climate change through the use of Terra Preta, in that large quantities of charcoal could or should be incorporated into the soil in large quantities for the formation of Terra Preta. The advantage would be doubly valuable, as terra preta would not only absorb carbon from the air in the form of carbon dioxide via trees and bind it in the earth for millennia through the production of charcoal or terra preta, but would also significantly improve the quality of the soil. The fertility of the soil would therefore benefit people's food, while at the same time climate change could be limited, which at the same time endangers the destruction of usable land in various ways due to the rise in sea levels, too high or no rainfall and droughts, as well as erosion.

Unfortunately, these projects are too expensive for many investors, too long-term and, from a monetary point of view, usually not profitable enough to support them accordingly.