Saturday, March 6, 2010

Fertilizing Tropical Soil

A multi-disciplinary group of Corpoverde (“Green Orinoco”) experts have developed a special forestry fertilizer for use in plantations in the eastern plains or llanos orientales of Colombia. This special forestry fertilizer mix meets the needs of tropical trees planted in infertile ground and in high rainfall conditions. These conditions definitely apply to many of the areas in which Amazonia Reforestation and CO2 Tropical Trees do their planting. Tropical trees are the ultimate recyclers, but to achieve rapid growth and best results it is important to provide the right mix of minerals and elements during the early stages of the planted trees’ growth. Proper fertilization in the early stages of an afforestation and reforestation project can have an important impact on soil quality later on.

Tropical soils are often infertile because of the heavy rainfall that occurs for 8 months of the year, leaching most nutrients out of the soil. That is why subsistence farmers have such poor results after indiscriminately cutting down rain forest. One subsistence crop later the soil is depleted and they are cutting down another area of rain forest in hopes of better conditions. This is, of course, the definition of insanity, doing the same thing over and over again anticipating a different result every time. Unfortunately, subsistence use of organic fertilizers like biochar by campesinos is often misunderstood, making conditions worse, because they fail to deactivate the biochar before use. Biochar may also be the cause of further deforestation, as subsistence farmers cut down trees to produce the charcoal component of their homemade fertilizer when they plant those subsistence crops.

An ideal tropical tree fertilizer mix consists of the following: 5% nitrogen (N), 17% phosphorus (P2O5), 2.5% potassium (K2O), 16% calcium (CaO), 12% magnesium (MgO), 22% silicon (SiO2), 0.5% zinc, 0.7% boron (B), 2% Sulphur (S), 0.005% cobalt Co) and 0.01% molybdenum (Mo). When applying this special forestry mix to tropical soils, the following quantities should be used on a minimum to maximum basis per hectare (per 2.47 acres): 50 - 250 kg of nitrogen (N), 25 - 100 kg of phosphorus (P), 40 – 160 kg of potassium (K), 140 – 200 kg of calcium (Ca), 10 – 15 kg of magnesium (Mg), 20 – 30 kg of sulphur (S), 5 to 10 kg of zinc (Z), 1 to 4 kg of boron (B), 2 – 3 kg of iron (Fe), 2 to 3 kg of manganese (Mn), 2 to 3 kg of copper (Cu) and 0.1 to 0.3 kg of molybdenum (Mo). The above translates into approximately 140 grams of fertilizer applied at a depth of 5 to 8 cm around each young tree, just before or just after the rainy season. Amazonia Reforestation uses this mix in the areas that are most devastated and in need of reclamation.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Trends Supporting Tropical Tree Investments

Wood is a renewable biological resource that has appealed to humanity since time immemorial. Its value is based on its many positive characteristics, including hardness and durability, insulating properties, weight, ease of use, ease of harvest, appearance and calorific value. Needless to say these qualities have been one of the main reasons why wood has been integral for construction, furniture, fuel and packaging, to name just a few uses. Going beyond lumber, the inherent properties of wood allow for the manufacture of numerous value-added products, such as dyes, resins, rubbers, syrups, paper, cellulose, fibreboard, plywood, concrete additives, food, animal fodder, medicines and oils. Best of all, many tropical trees are fast growing, meaning that there replacement cycles are short, on average no more than 10 to 15 years, depending on the species.

Besides cash values, there are environmental values to consider. For example, the Consortium for Research on Renewable Industrial Materials (“CORRIM”) has found in studies that construction using wood has a significantly smaller negative environmental impact than does construction using concrete or steel. A building using steel has a 36% greater chance of contributing to global warming through CO2 emissions than does a building made of wood. Preparing concrete requires 312% more water than does preparing lumber for use in construction. To produce 1 ton of steel requires 24 times more energy than does producing 1 ton of solid wood. To produce 1 ton of cement requires 5 times more energy than does producing 1 ton of solid wood. Using wood products provides a unique opportunity to store carbon from sustainable tree plantations like Amazonia Reforestation. The carbon stored in wood products offsets the emissions from the processing of the wood and also from the emissions of other products used in construction. Using wood is a real substitute for fossil-intensive non-wood materials, because it can offset their emissions.

In 2009 the United Nation’s Food and Agriculture Organization (“FAO”) suggested that the number of trees being planted worldwide needed to increase by 33% every year for the next 20 years if there was to be any hope of meeting the global demand for wood. It is a sad fact that at present over 65% of wood production for all uses is coming from natural forests, an amount equivalent to 1.2 billion cubic meters. Since access to natural forests is becoming more and more difficult due to increased protection of natural areas and tougher environmental regulation, the opportunities for private woodlot and forestry investments have never been better. It is another sad fact that at present all the tree planting in the world accounts for less than 30% of what is being harvested on an annual basis. Add to this the fact that humans continue to procreate at an alarming rate, and it is small wonder that demand for wood will continue to grow exponentially for decades to come. Buying trees with Amazonia Reforestation offers you an opportunity to participate in this very “green” and financially rewarding investment.