Human Labor

I often forget that few understand how dominant to the economic model underlying agriculture is the element of human labor. Every shift in effort means the reallocation of that very limited resource.

Thus for an Indian family in the Amazon to put in the extra effort to carbonize corn stalks, they must have realized an immediate benefit. That came about by the ability to reseed the hills in a couple of weeks. Unless someone tells me otherwise, the Indians of the Amazon had a continuous growing season that could readily support three crops per year provided that nutrients could be restored immediately.

Since the likely biochar would contain a mix of soil,ash,charcoal,char and even a little unburned material as well as four months of chared household waste, the nutrient release profile would be sustained over the next growing season.

The whole field would thus require a concerted effort during the planting period, perhaps lasting a week or two with minimal weeding thereafter. That is an incredible return on labor for pre-modern agriculture.

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