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Re: [SANET-MG] Putting the carbon back: Black is the new green

I have been experimenting with "charcoal" this year after reading ALL the books about Terra Preta, reading ALL the information on at Eprida http://www.eprida.com/home/index.php4 plus other information on the web such as at Cornell.

According the Eprida, the proper charcoal means heating suitable organic materials to about 400 degrees C. (750 degrees F.) without oxygen. Volatiles, hydrogen and water are outgassed. These gases can be used in a variety of ways. The charcoal is ground to 30-45 mesh. They also have developed a process to saturate it with ammonium bicarbonate using recycled gases.

My focus has been on enhancing microbiological activity and nutrient holding capacity in the soil. If you add some charcoal to quality finished compost or worm castings you will get obvious enhances microbiological activity as seen by doing a simple water extraction after one day of culturing and looking at it under a microscope.

Enhanced nutrient capacity occurs because the carbon matrix of the charcoal starts taking on "functional groups" and hence forms a type of humus that increases the CEC.

Here is how I have produced the charcoal "fertilizer" in small quantities: Grind commercial "lump" barbecue charcoal (Cowboy, Royal Oak, etc.) to a fine powder. Do not use brickettes. I run it through an old meat grinder then put small amounts in an electric coffee mill. Mix charcoal powder with equal parts by volume fine sifted compost or worm castings. According to the charcoal weight, add 5% high quality fish meal, krill meal or other quality protein meal. Avoid solvent-extracted meals. Add sufficient water (non-chlorinated) usually about 1/2 the charcoal volume. Mix throughly. It should be wet, not mucky. Usually I work the mixture through a 1/4 inch hardware mesh to fluffy it up and cut up any lumps. Let sit in a plastic bucket for a week maybe with a loose cover in dry climates. Actineomyctes (sp?) smell will replace the protein smell in a few days and some white specks should develop.

Small quantities of this product can show a noticeable improvement in plant appearance and growth/production. Apply to the soil surface and water in. I will not go into my exact experiences but I have been organic gardening for decades and have experience with a wide range of organic fertilizers and amendments. I have never seen anything quite like it.

If you have questions about what I have mentioned I would invite you to reply to me personally or to the list.


John Cowan

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