My best friend sent me an article about biochar, which has been called the world's greatest soil. Lincoln University in Missouri has been talking about it. But they are hundreds, if not thousands, of years behind native Amazonians who have known about it that long.
When I took a course in geology, I was surprised to learn that "jungle soil" is really quite poor in nutrition. Once it is cleared of its lush growth it turns as hard as asphalt and becomes a good surface for an airplane runway.
Yet explorers in such regions have found a local soil which is an exception to this general condition. Instead of the usual reddish soil of poor growing quality, there are regions of a black and very fertile soil near former human habitations.
When this black soil is removed, it has the ability to regenerate. Broken pots, once used as "piss pots" are found in the ancient soil and may be part of its biological source of fertility.
Now, this soil is being marketed--the original stuff and modern versions. You may start finding it in garden stores. Its black color comes from charcoal, which is a great medium or refuge for helpful soil bacteria.
I believe it is a good thing for us to live low on the food chain and raise that, if possible, ourselves. There is hope in using this wonderful substance as a "sourdough starter" to enrich soils, even if they are "piss poor".
View an article about biochar research at Lincoln University in Missouri here.