Amazonian Dark Earth: A Model of Sustainable Agriculture of the Past and Future?

By Nicholas C. Kawa and Augusto Oyuela-Caycedo.

Published by The Sustainability Collection

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

Amazonian Dark Earth (ADE), known in the Brazilian Amazon as “terra preta do índio”, is a fertile anthropogenic soil that is considered to be a potential model for sustainable agriculture in Amazonia and beyond. Pedological studies have shown that pyrogenic carbon is a key feature of the soil, exhibiting many important functions that enhance nutrient availability and soil organic matter stability. Aside from these benefits, pyrogenic carbon is considered to be an effective carbon store and sink. This paper examines the history of ADE research and discusses the application of the ADE model for the development of carbon sequestration and soil fertilization technologies in the global market. The paper concludes with suggestions as to how such technologies may be adapted to benefit rural smallholders of Amazonia, the originally intended beneficiaries of ADE studies.

Keywords: Amazonian Dark Earth, Terra Preta Do Indio, Sustainable Agriculture, Carbon Sequestration

The International Journal of Environmental, Cultural, Economic and Social Sustainability, Volume 4, Issue 3, pp.9-16. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 563.148KB).

Nicholas C. Kawa

Ph.D. Candidate, Department of Anthropology, University of Florida, Gainesville, FL, USA

Nicholas C. Kawa completed his M.A. in Anthropology at the University of Florida (U.S.A) and is currently pursuing a Ph.D. His primary research interest relates to the study of anthropogenic soils, specifically “terra preta de indio” of Amazonia. Between June and August of 2007, he conducted research on management of terra preta in the Central Amazon, focusing particularly on its relationship to market production and agrobiodiversity. His present research examines how the soil has come to represent a model for “sustainable” agriculture outside of Amazonia through the development of bio-char technology.

Augusto Oyuela-Caycedo

Assistant Professor, Department of Anthropology, University of Florida, Gainesville, FL, USA

Dr. Augusto Oyuela-Caycedo is an Assistant Professor of Anthropology at the University of Florida (USA). His current research is on the historical ecology of the Northwest and Upper Amazon, with a focus on the frontier regions of Colombia, Peru and Brazil. He works on a long-term research project on the historical ecology of the Tairona-Kogui, as well as on the Mesay River in Amazonia and the region of Iquitos-Nauta.


There are currently no reviews of this product.

Write a Review