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Nature Environmental Conservation & Protection

Terra Preta

How the World's Most Fertile Soil Can Help Reverse Climate Change and Reduce World Hunger

by (author) Ute Scheub, Haiko Pieplow, Hans-Peter Schmidt & Kathleen Draper

foreword by Tim Flannery

translated by Jamie McIntosh

Greystone Books Ltd
Initial publish date
May 2016
Environmental Conservation & Protection, Environmental (see also Environmental Science), Soil Science, Organic
  • Paperback / softback

    Publish Date
    May 2016
    List Price
  • eBook

    Publish Date
    May 2016
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Terra preta is the Portuguese name of a type of soil which is thought to have almost miraculous properties. The newspapers are flooded with reports about “black gold,” scientists believe that two of the greatest problems facing the world – climate change and the hunger crisis — can be solved by it. The beauty of it is that everyone can do something about it because since 2005 the secret of producing this black soil has been revealed — and it is a secret that seemed to have been lost forever with the downfall of the once thriving Indian culture of the Amazon basin. The recipe is astonishingly simple as all you need are kitchen or garden wastes, charcoal and earthworms, so it can be produced on every balcony or on the smallest of garden plots.

The authors set off on a treasure hunt and condensed all the knowledge about the world’s most fertile soil into a convenient guidebook. In addition to a sound instruction manual on producing terra preta and organic charcoal (biochar), the handbook covers fundamental principles from climate farming to closed-loop economy. It makes a passionate plea against synthetic fertilizers and genetic technology

Published in Partnership with the David Suzuki Institute.

About the authors

Ute Scheub is a Berlin-based journalist who holds a doctorate in political science. She has written a number of successful books on peace and on women and ecology.

Ute Scheub's profile page

Haiko Pieplow is a soil scientist who works at the Federal Ministry for the Environment in Berlin. In 2005 he rediscovered the Terra Preta formulation.

Haiko Pieplow's profile page

Hans-Peter Schmidt leads the Delinat Institute of Ecology and Climate Farming in the Swiss canton of Valais.

Hans-Peter Schmidt's profile page

Kathleen Draper is the U.S. director of the Ithaka Institute for Carbon Intelligence. She sits on the board of directors for the International Biochar Initiative and the U.S. Biochar Initiative.

Kathleen Draper's profile page

Tim Flannery is an internationally acclaimed scientist, explorer, conservationist, and author of numerous ground-breaking books, including The Weather Makers.

Tim Flannery's profile page

Jamie McIntosh's profile page

Editorial Reviews

"This is the kind of creative thinking the world needs, in a practical guide that combines historical examples with cutting-edge ideas."
—Foreword Reviews

"A fine account of one of the steps we need to take on an overheating planet. Useful and inspiring!"
—Bill McKibben, author Deep Economy.

"A fiery modern take on an ancient solution to humanity’s oldest problem—and most pressing new one.”
— David R. Montgomery, author of Dirt: The Erosion of Civilizations and co-author of The Hidden Half of Nature.

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