Perhaps there was a thread was about Terre Pieta, but my specific comment was about charcoal. I believe I clearly indicated my response as being about charcoal.
Charcoal by definition is wood held at high temperature (175 to 180 C) with low oxygen (doesn't burn but essentially crystallizes). This can be done mechanically, or can be done by biology.
If someone wants to develop a new term, for example "char", then a clear definition is required. Conditions for production of that material need to be defined.
When people compost using woody materials, such as oak, pine, cedar, eucalyptus, or other wide C:N bark, heartwood or sapwood, with other materials (green plant material and high N containing material) on which the bacteria and fungi grow rapidly, use up oxygen, and generate high heat (above 170 C), then conditions are correct to produce charcoal.
Compost is NOT sterile at 175 C. Just because none of the organisms growing at those temperatures will grow on any lab culture plate, does not mean those organisms do not exist.
But many conventional microbiology-based people make that mistake. There are a huge number of species and high numbers of individuals at high temperatures. Take a look at deep sea vents. Check out the number of species in a ml of seawater, regardless of whether that water is from deep ocean vents or from near-shore, or mid-depth.
The reason that compost piles heat is through the heat released at the organisms grow. No organisms, no heat in a compost pile. If you have heat, you have growing organisms.
In Terre Pieta, there are a huge number of organisms. Which is more likely to be more important to the production of the fertility of this soil? Charcoal, the charred organic matter, or the organisms?
If you have a material that is compacted, it often lacks oxygen. Mycorrhizal fungi are strict aerobes, and cannot grow when oxygen is lacking. If material that structurally helps oxygen move more easily into the material is added, the mycorrhizal fungi will be seen to grow more readily as the conditions restricting their growth are alleviated.
Did the structural material supply carbon? mineral nutrients? or allow oxygen to move into the material?
What is the real explanation for the benefit of charcoal for mycorrhizal growth?
In a message dated 9/13/2006 3:59:48 P.M. Pacific Daylight Time, nosliwelad@YAHOO.COM writes:
Elaine R. Ingham
Soil Foodweb Inc., Corvallis, Oregon
Soil Foodweb Inc., Port Jefferson, New York
Soil Foodweb Institute, Lismore Australia
Soil Foodweb Institute Cambridge, New Zealand
Laboratorios de Soil Foodweb, Culiacan, Mexico
Soil Foodweb South Africa, Polokwane, SA
Soil Foodweb Canada, Vulcan, Alberta, Canada
Soil Foodweb United Kingdom, Laverstoke Park, UK
Coming soon -a second lab in Canada, one in Kenya, and in Japan!
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