700 year-old technique could mitigate climate change and revolutionise farming in Africa

Discussion in 'Earth Science' started by Plazma Inferno!, Jun 17, 2016.

  1. Plazma Inferno! Ding Ding Ding Ding Administrator

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    A farming technique practised for centuries by villagers in West Africa, which converts nutrient-poor rainforest soil into fertile farmland, could be the answer to mitigating climate change and revolutionising farming across Africa.
    A global study, led by the University of Sussex, which included anthropologists and soil scientists from Cornell, Accra, and Aarhus Universities and the Institute of Development Studies has for the first-time identified and analysed rich fertile soils found in Liberia and Ghana.
    They discovered that the ancient West African method of adding charcoal and kitchen waste to highly weathered, nutrient poor, tropical soils can transform the land into enduringly fertile, carbon-rich black soils that the researchers dub ‘African Dark Earths’.
    From analysing 150 sites in northwest Liberia and 27 sites in Ghana researchers found that these highly fertile soils contain 200-300 percent more organic carbon than other soils and are capable of supporting far more intensive farming.

    http://www.sussex.ac.uk/newsandevents/pressrelease/id/35929
     
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  3. Ophiolite Valued Senior Member

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    We tend to forget that our ancestors were at least as smart as we are and had their Newtons and Diracs and Wallaces, who applied their minds to the problems of the day.
     
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  5. sculptor Valued Senior Member

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    See terra preta;
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Terra_preta
    nice read, but I would push the beginnings to 2500 ybp, and the decline in manufacture to circa 1300 ad

    Curiously found on both sides of the atlantic?
     
    Last edited: Jun 17, 2016
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  7. Edont Knoff Registered Senior Member

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    Terra Preta was my first thought too.

    Many useful things were invented several times in several places.

    I'm rather wondering why these skills got lost. Better soil means more food - and food always has been a scarse resource in many places as far as I know.
     
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  8. iceaura Valued Senior Member

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    In West Africa they didn't, apparently.

    It's a rainforest technique, and increases population density - the agricultural and silvacultural rainforest populations of SA, dense and river connected in as they were, apparently vanished (at least as thriving and settled people) shortly after the diseased Europeans first established contact along the coasts and major river mouths.

    A similar disappearance of major agricultural settlements, along with the relevant agricultural techniques and much knowledge, seems to have happened along the Mississippi, after the early Spanish explorers came through.
     

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