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Amazonian soils are almost universally thought of as extremely forbidding. However, it is now clear that complex societies with large, sedentary populations were present for over a millennium before European contact. Associated with these are tracts of anomalously fertile, dark soils termed terra preta or dark earths. These soils are presently an important agricultural resource within Amazonia and provide a model for developing long-term future sustainability of food production in tropical environments.
The late Dutch soil scientist Wim Sombroek (1934-2003) was instrumental in bringing the significance of these soils to the attention of the world over four decades ago. Wim saw not only the possibilities of improving the lives of small holders throughout the world with simple carbon based soil technologies, but was an early proponent of the positive synergies also achieved in regards to carbon sequestration and global climatic change abatement. Wim's vision was to form a multidisciplinary group whose members maintained the ideal of open collaboration toward the attainment of shared goals. Always encouraged and often shaped by Wim, this free association of international scholars termed the Terra Preta Nova Group came together in 2001 and has flourished. This effort has been defined by enormous productivity. Wim who is never far from any of our minds and hearts, would have loved to share the great experience of seeing the fruits of his vision as demonstrated in this volume.
Dedication 1. Dr. Wim G. Sombroek, H. van Baren; Dedication 2. Thanks, Wim, R.W. Arnold; Foreword - A Few Words about Wim Sombroek, C.C. Mann; 1 Discovery and Study of Amazonian Dark Earths: The PreSombroek Period (1870-1959), W.I. Woods and W.M. Denevan; 2 PreEuropean Continuity and Change in the Central Amazon, L. Rebellato and W.I. Woods; 3 Phytoliths and Terra Preta: The Hatahara Site Example, S.R. Bozarth, E.G. Neves , W.I. Woods , L. Cascon, and C. Caromano; 4 Anthropogenic Dark Earths of the Central Amazon Region: Remarks on their Evolution and Polygenetic Composition, M. Arroyo-Kalin, E.G. Neves, W.I. Woods; 5 Steps Towards an Ecology of Landscape: The Pedo-Stratigraphy of Anthropogenic Dark Earths, M. Arroyo-Kalin; 6 An Assessment of the Cultural Practices Behind the Formation (Or Not) of Anthropogenic Dark Earth in Marajo Island Archaeological Sites, D.P. Schaan, D.C. Kern, and F.J.L. Frazao; 7 Kayapo Savanna Management: Fire, Soils, and Forest Islands in a Threatened Biome, S.B. Hecht; 8 AmerIndian Anthrosols: Amazonian Dark Earth Formation in the Upper Xingu, M.J. Schmidt and M.J. Heckenberger; 9 Indigenous Knowledge about Terra Preta Formation, C. Steiner, W.G. Teixeira, W.I. Woods, and W. Zech; 10 Sweep and Char and the Creation of Amazonian Dark Earths in Homegardens, A.M.G.A. WinklerPrins; 11 Pedology, Fertility, and Biology of Central Amazonian Dark Earths, N.P.S. Falcao, C.R. Clement, S.M. Tsai, and N.B. Comerford; 12 Historical Ecology and Dark Earths in Whitewater and Blackwater Environments: Comparing the Middle Madeira and Lower Negro Rivers, J. Fraser, T. Cardoso, A. Junqueira, N.P.S. Falcao, and C.R. Clement; 13 Amazonian Dark Earths in Africa? J. Fairhead and M. Leach; 14 The Microbial World of Terra Preta, S.M. Tsai, B. O'Neill, F.S. Cannavan, D. Saito, N.P.S. Falcao, D. Kern, J. Grossman, and J. Thies; 15 Microbial Response to Charcoal Amendments and Fertilization of a Highly Weathered Tropical Soil, J.J. Birk, C. Steiner, W.C. Teixeira, W. Zech, and B. Glaser; 16 Effects of Charcoal as Slow Release Nutrient Carrier on N-P-K Dynamics and Soil Microbial Population: Pot Experiments with Ferralsol Substrate, C. Steiner, M. Garcia, and W. Zech; 17 Microbial Population and Biodiversity in Amazonian Dark Earth Soils, M.L.P. Ruivo, C.B. Amarante, L.S. Oliveira, I.C.M. Muniz, D.A.M. Santos; 18 Spectroscopic Characterization of Humic Acids Isolated from Amazonian Dark Earth Soils (Terra Preta de Aindio), T.J.F. Cunha, E.H. Novotny, B.E. Madari, L. Martin-Neto, M.O.O. Rezende, L.P. Canellas, and V.M. Benites; 19 Soild-State 13C Nuclear Magnetic Resonance Characterization of Humic Acids Extracted from Amazonian Dark Earths (Terra Preta de Aindio), E.H. Novotny, T.J. Bonagamba, E.R. Deazevedo, and M.H.B. Hayes; 20 Opening the Black Box: Deciphering Carbon and Nutrient Flows in Terra Preta, G. van Hofwegen, T.W. Kuyper, E. Hoffland, J.A. van den Broek, and G.A. Becx; 21 Locating Ancient Anthropogenic Soils Under Amazonian Tropical Forests Using MODIS Time-Series Analysis, J. Thayn, K. Price, and W.I. Woods; 22 Terra Preta Nova: The Dream of Wim Sombroek, D.C. Kern, M.L.P. Ruivo, and F.J.L. Frazao; 23 Charcoal Making in the Brazilian Amazon: Economic Aspects of Production and Carbon Conversion Efficiencies of Kilns, S.N. Swami, C. Steiner, W.G. Teixeira, and J. Lehmann; 24 The Effect of Charcoal in Banana (Musa sp.) Planting Holes: An On-Farm Study in Central Amazonia, Brazil, C. Steiner, W.G. Teixeira, and W. Zech; 25 Characterization of Char for Agricultural Use in the Soils of the Southeastern United States, J. Gaskin, K. Das, A. Tasistro, L. Sonon, K. Harric, and B. Hawkins; 26 Black Carbon in Rice-Based Systems: Characteristics and Opportunities, S.M. Haefele, C. Knoblauch, M. Gummert, Y. Konboon, and S. Koyama; 27 City to Soil: Returning Organics to Agriculture: A Circle of Sustainability, G. Gillespie; 28 Terra Preta Nova -- Where to from Here? J. Lehmann and W.I. Woods.
From the reviews: "Amazonian Dark Earths: Wim Sombroek's Vision is a wonderful account of the history and science of anthropogenic soils. ! Amazonian Dark Earths: Wim Sombroek's Vision is a landmark book. ! Amazonian Dark Earths: Wim Sombroek's Vision is a must read for students and scholars of landscape geography." (Mike Dubrasich, Western Institute for Study of the Environment, February, 2009) "This new volume ! provides an excellent reference and point of entry for readers seeking a substantive, multidisciplinary overview of the state of knowledge on ADE. ! Chapter formats are consistent throughout the volume, and most chapters are well illustrated with black and white maps, graphs, and photos. ! It will be valuable for those working with Amazonian Dark Earths or related soils and to readers, from a wide range of academic disciplines, with an interest in Wim Sombroek's legacy." (Carol Harden, Vadose Zone Journal, Vol. 9, 2010)