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Terra Preta Properties in Northwestern Amazonia (Colombia)

Institute of Crop Science and Resource Conservation (INRES), Soil Science and Soil Ecology, University of Bonn, 53115 Bonn, Germany
Center for Development Research (ZEF), University of Bonn, 53113 Bonn, Germany
Instituto Amazónico de Investigaciones Científicas (SINCHI), Leticia 910001, Colombia
Soil Ecology, Bayreuth University, 95448 Bayreuth, Germany
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editors: Vasileios Tzanakakis, Theocharis Chatzistathis and Jose Navarro Pedreño
Sustainability 2021, 13(13), 7088;
Received: 1 May 2021 / Revised: 11 June 2021 / Accepted: 18 June 2021 / Published: 24 June 2021
Whereas many researchers still approach Terra Preta (TP) as a soil category, new evidence suggests that TP refers to a directional grading of soil property changes (i.e., color, pH, nutrients, etc.) within human-made soils, originating from human activities in pre-Columbian times. Currently, most TP research focuses on the Brazilian part of the Amazon basin, but only little information is available on TP soils in the Colombian Amazon. Here, we sampled four TP and surrounding soils in the Colombian Amazon region at different soil depths and analyzed them for (i) general soil properties such as color, pH and texture, (ii) soil organic carbon and black carbon (BC) contents, the latter using benzene polycarboxylic acids as molecular marker, (iii) phosphorus availability based on sequential fractionation, and (iv) microbial residue contents using amino sugars. Our data from Colombia’s middle Caquetá River and Leticia confirmed that SOC, BC, and total P were present in significantly higher concentrations in the TP areas than the surrounding soils, while pH values and microbial residue contents were unchanged. The enrichment of P forms comprised both easily extractable and stable P pools, which both dominated to a different degree, both in TP and adjacent soils. The different degree of SOC, BC and P enrichment suggests different amounts of waste disposal by the ancient populations at different TP sites, now warranting further research for reconstructing ancient population sizes from TP chemical analyses. View Full-Text
Keywords: amazonian anthrosols; tropical soils; Terra Preta; soil formation; phosphorus; black carbon amazonian anthrosols; tropical soils; Terra Preta; soil formation; phosphorus; black carbon
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MDPI and ACS Style

Orozco-Ortiz, J.M.; Peña-Venegas, C.P.; Bauke, S.L.; Borgemeister, C.; Mörchen, R.; Lehndorff, E.; Amelung, W. Terra Preta Properties in Northwestern Amazonia (Colombia). Sustainability 2021, 13, 7088.

AMA Style

Orozco-Ortiz JM, Peña-Venegas CP, Bauke SL, Borgemeister C, Mörchen R, Lehndorff E, Amelung W. Terra Preta Properties in Northwestern Amazonia (Colombia). Sustainability. 2021; 13(13):7088.

Chicago/Turabian Style

Orozco-Ortiz, Juan M., Clara P. Peña-Venegas, Sara L. Bauke, Christian Borgemeister, Ramona Mörchen, Eva Lehndorff, and Wulf Amelung. 2021. "Terra Preta Properties in Northwestern Amazonia (Colombia)" Sustainability 13, no. 13: 7088.

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