SCHOLARLY INTRODUCTION TO AMAZONIAN DARK EARTHS, June 4, 2006
Amazonian dark earths are a type of soil that has long been known in the Amazon but whose origins have been disputed for many years. Over the last 10-15 years there has been a consensus that these are anthropogenic soils created by agricultural and social methods of old indian cultures in the Amazon.
This book is a compilation of significant academic articles on amazonian dark earths. The most active academics in dark earth study are represented, as well as a good array for sites are studies, from the Tapajós, Negro, Solimoes, and Napo river basins. Also studies are done on the composition of these soils and their anti fungicidal and fertile properties. The most interesting feature of these soils is their continued extraordinary fertility even many centuries after they were formed.
Dark earths are an interesting phenomenon that may hold the key to productive agriculture in the Amazon basin, as opposed to common slash and burn techniques that are so devastating to the region.
This book is not a lively account of dark earths, but a scholarly text. For someone interested in dark earths from a less technical background, I recommend "1491" by Charles Mann, in which there is a significant portion on dark earths. This book is for those seeking a deeper knowledge of the subject.