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Terra Preta and Crude Oil

 
Posts: 126
Location: Quebec, Canada - 4b/5a
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Hey folks,
Has anyone tried saturating a piece of land with crude oil in order to load it up with carbon? Seems to be how they did terra prate back then. Might be a worthy investment. Thoughts. Thanks.
 
pollinator
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Location: Massachusetts, Zone:6/7, AHS:4, Rainfall:48in even Soil:SandyLoam pH6 Flat
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bio-char/terra preta carbon is carbon that has alot of spongy pore space for:
1) Good microbes to 'hide' and live in
2) air to exist in thus reducing soil compaction, provide air for plant roots and microbes
3) water to stay in thru capillary/surface tension vs draining away
4) plants to deposit their extrudates and trade with microbes
5) minerals to get "stuck in" vs just leaching away
Those are all things that make bio-char/terra preta great.

Crude oil does not have sponge pore space for plant roots, good microbes, air, minerals and trade to take place instead it coats, smother and kills everything. Given enough time (a month/year) fungi will come and 'eat' up all of the crude oil, where as bio-char/terra preta, doesn't really get digested instead it stays around for 100,000's of years. Also while the fungi is eating up the excess of crude oil, it's 'root' outcompete the tree roots+company in absorbing minerals and water to keep on multiplying. In fact crude oil/gasoline/aviation fuel/etc is a great way to kill everything. How do I know that it will kill a tree, I was witness to this happening. The tree died and after a while the weeds came back. I later planted a yellowhorn in that spot it never really thrived. But now the raspberry is doing great, the blueberry very close to it is doing so-so. Its one of those pink colored blueberry that they call pink berry. All the other blueberries fruit exceptionally. yet even now this plant struggles. Now that I think about it so does the apple tree next to that spot too. Only the raspberry and mulberry are doing okay. A pear tree about 15ft away also bears alot.
 
Charles Laferriere
Posts: 126
Location: Quebec, Canada - 4b/5a
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Hmmmmmm interesting. Well well... Thanks. Land is very poor here. Trying to bring fertility back to no-mans-land. I thought perhaps biochar soaked with crude, or something... something needs to be done here!
 
pollinator
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I don't understand where you might have gotten the impression that crude is somehow a magic potion for soil life. The sites of oil spills aren't suddenly more robustly and profusely lush and fertile. The petroleum cost of agriculture has to do with shipping, operating equipment, and petroleum-derived chemical sprays and fertilizers. They don't spray crude on the soil.

As for Terra Preta, there are more complete places to read about the ongoing discussion, from history to modern practice and the future, of the story of terra preta and biochar, right here on this site. I will just summarise by saying that the people that were responsible for terra preta kept midden heaps, basically big mounds of trash, which for them was largely biomass. In their environment, it would dry out sufficiently to burn, which they did to decrease mass, and probably to eliminate a variety of risks, from smell to pests, and they would spread the char around to make room for more garbage. This built up in the soil over time.

But they had no petroleum-derived materials.

If I wanted to improve the soil on any random piece of degraded land, I would add carbon through chipped or shredded biomass. If they were plentiful, I would have woodchips dumped regularly, or if I could source organic, uncontaminated straw. I would brew compost extracts and fungal slurries, probably winecap and/or oyster mushrooms, and that would improve my soil fertility, along with seeding it with something so that living roots could improve the soil conditions.

If you want more information about what makes soil healthy and how to do it yourself, our very own Dr. Bryant Redhawk has an Epic Soil Wiki full of his threads on a variety of soil-building and soil health issues. I encourage you to spend some time reading through whatever looks interesting and pertinent to you. I'm sure you'll catch the bug.

Also, if you'd like the membership to chime in with opinions and suggestions, you could tell us what the conditions are where you are, and who you are, and what you're looking to do. If you're talking about a specific piece of land, you could even post pictures. I know I'd love to see.

But let us know how you proceed, and good luck.

-CK
 
S Bengi
pollinator
Posts: 2588
Location: Massachusetts, Zone:6/7, AHS:4, Rainfall:48in even Soil:SandyLoam pH6 Flat
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Charles you are onto something, with the idea of infusing the bio-char with something powerful.
Something that will give the plants access to lots of minerals, nitrogen, probiotic 'good microbes', water, humus.
That something is compost/compost tea/effective microorganism.

1) Photosynthetic bacteria (purple non-sulfur bacteria. Not sure about it being food grade, but its in pond water and worm compost)
2) Lactic acid bacteria (think yogurt, kefir, kimchi aka food-grade)
3) Yeasts (think kefir, fermented juice, aka food grade)
4) Firmicutes (think koji/miso/sake, tempeh, onchom, red yeast rice, ragi, tape ketan aka food grade)
Some folk just get the above add it to a barrel of water+sea90/sea salt+sugar+rice and a air stone, and let them multiply for 20hrs.
 
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well in my biased opinion the Canadian oil sands strip mining and extraction area sure could use something to straighten out the mess that's being made
 
bruce Fine
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South American tera preta was put in the soil hundreds to thousands of years ago. If not all, much of the history of those people was destroyed by the Spanish and in my biased opinion what we know about how it was done is pure speculation and theory based on current anthropologists and scientists.
 
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And what started out as an interesting, but edge-case topic has now fallen squarely into the cider press.  

For those of you with enough apples, please feel free to start a new thread there.
 
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