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Aug 2007: E-seminar in "Dark Earth Soils used by the tribes of the Amazon"
(participants who provide a brief self-introduction can receive a free "2007 Guest Account")


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Background paper: Dark Earth Trial (June, 2006 to December 2006)

About the Author
Mr. Mel Landers is a teacher of ancient Native American crop production techniques. He is presently working in Nicaragua where he teaches sustainable agricultural production. He learned these highly productive, environmentally friendly techniques over the last four decades and worked his own farm with them for two decades. While working his farm during the 1980's and 1990's, he experimented with the basic Native American methods he had learned. He found that they conserved the soil, prevented erosion and increased productivity, all at the same time. For most of the last decade he has focused on developing and teaching highly productive, sustainable farming methods; based on Native American technologies.

The most commonly used Native American technology was mulched raised beds, constructed on the contour to prevent runoff. This basic system of production was used from Chile to Canada, and everywhere in between. With tied ridges periodically connecting these beds, 100% of the rain can be harvested to increase crop production. Since the raised beds also hold roots up above the water level, the method is beneficial in both wet and dry years. This also eliminates erosion as it increases productivity. Mel believes that use of this basic system is the quickest way to achieve productive, sustainable crop production. But for the best results, he suggests the eventual production of "dark earth soils" such as were used by the tribes of the Amazon River Basin. With help from friends in a variety of academic fields, Mel has developed a method of reproducing these highly productive soils using a variety of organic waste products.

Over the last five years he has studied and experimented with the process and is now ready to begin teaching others the basics of dark earth soil production. It is his hope that others will experiment with the soils and develop replicable methods for their production on a large scale. Much work has been done, focussing on the charcoal content of the soils. But, Mel believes the high humus content is equally as important to sustainable production with these soils. Since the greatest quantities of humus are produced during anaerobic decomposition, he uses a method similar to an in ground silo to produce the soils from a combination of biomass and charcoal.

Jacky Foo
Join E-workshop (July) on Small scale systems for treatment and zero discharge of effluent from a community septic tank that receives 11 m3 (2500 gallons) influent per day.
1st Intl Conf on Technologies and Strategic Management of Sustainable Biosystems, Australia.
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