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Charcoal and Terra Preta for saleCharcoal formation and deposition in soils seems to be a promising option to transfer an easily decomposable biomass into refractory SOM pools. However, charcoal represents just 1.7% of the pre-burn biomass if a forest is converted by the traditional slash‑and‑burn technique. The production of charcoal for soil amelioration purposes (slash and char) out of the aboveground biomass (secondary forest and crop residues) instead of converting it to carbon dioxide (CO2) through burning (slash and burn) could establish a C sink and could be an important step towards sustainability and SOM conservation in tropical agriculture.
Charcoal production is a common activity of many settlers in the Amazon and is frequently used as an alternative land clearing method. The residues from charcoal production are abundant and used to some extent for soil amelioration purposes. However, many farmers fail to produce enough crops for a sufficient family income mainly due to the soils’ infertility and the family’s incapability to afford fertilizers.
After a burn only 3% of the original carbon remains; charcoal formation recovers 50% of the carbon in biomass
Most C is lost if burned in a slash‑and‑burn scenario and lost to a high percentage (~50%) if used for charcoal production. Therefore, a C trade could provide an incentive to cease further deforestation; instead re­forestation and recuperation of degraded land for fuel and food crops would gain magnitude.
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