When discussing soil erosion these days, many people are quick to accuse this often times natural occurance on humans. Though we as humans are responsible this day in age for many occurances of soil erosion, we are not the only causes. Soil erosion is believe it or not a natural occurance which can happen if the right set of circumstances are met. Furthermore, worse than mere soil erosion is the end result you get from it, which is infertile soil, and infertile soil can be found in just about any evironment on the planet.
In order to battle the age old problem of infertile soil, the natives of the Amazon Basin have devised a system for fertilizing otherwise useless soils. They used of charred organic materials or biochar to transform the soil into fertile ground for growing crops, and it worked. In fact the soil that they replenished is still fertile with rich nutrients to this day after 500 years!
Biochar is currently being researched by scientists all over the world, and is seen as an important tool for not only soil replenishment, but a tool to combat global warming as well. "The potential of biochar lies in its ability to sequester-capture and store-huge amounts of carbon while also displacing fossil fuel energy, effectively doubling its carbon impact," Christoph Steiner, a soil scientist.
Biochar is often refered to as dark soil, and is so good at storing carbon in the soil, it can sequester carbon and prevent soil degredation for thousands of years.
This research I believe is one thing I believe to be vital to the survival of humanity, the possibilities alone could extend to other planets, (if we get there some day) and enable us to grow food in un-forgiving environments anywhere!
To make Biochar from home:
1. Start by digging a trench in your garden bed, use a fork to soften the soil at the bottom of the trench.
2. Pile brush such as leaves, pine needles, and other rubbish into the trench and light it on fire. The idea is to have a fire that starts out hot and quickly dies out because of a reduced oxygen supply.
3. Next, watch the fire's smoke, white smoke is water vapor, yellow smoke is sugar and other resins burning, and greyish blue smoke is what you want. When you see this greyish blue smoke, smolder the fire with about an inch of soil and leave it to cook.
4. After a while of smoldering, the dirt will form into charcole like chunks, when this happens put an equal amount of water ontop to put the fire completely out. Now you have Biochar!!!