Nutrient Accumulation

Now that we understand the corn carbon protocol and how it is able to deliver powdered charcoal into the soil to form Terra Preta soils, we can make a couple of observations.

Corn charcoal will form a powder requiring very little additional work. Wood charcoal is lumpy and must be crushed to a fine powder for it to be of much value. In the soil, is is important to maximize the available surface area of the charcoal.

This powdered charcoal is activated carbon and will both absorb and adsorb. This means that it will grab and hold nutrients which can then be accessed. In fact the soil will begin to accumulate nutrients in the top layer were it is needed.

The normal nutrient cycle sees the nutrients drawn from the overall soil mass which in forests can be twenty to thirty feet thick. They are very mobile and tend to migrate deep into the soils. Dying vegetation releases these nutrients back on the surface so that they can once again begin this cycle. Charcoal in the surface layer changes this dramatically because a portion of these nutrients are grabbed by the charcoal.

Thus, over hundreds of crop cycles we can expect the nutrient load to be shifted into the surface layer. Obviously this is dramatically true in respect to tropical soils were the most need exists today. And temperate soils are also amenable to this type of soil enhancement and this sets the stage for large scale industrial organic agriculture, hugely minimizing the need to replenish nutrients with select chemicals.

A really interesting experiment would be to soak the powdered charcoal in nitrogen fertilizer to see how long it has an effect on the crops. In other words, what is the decline curve? It is currently measured in weeks.

The corn carbon protocol appears capable of preventing unused nutrients from escaping into the subsoil. This is a revolution that compares to the invention of the plow and for the same reason. the plow recovered nutrients and returned them to the seed bed. This prevents them from even escaping the seed bed

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