Biochar researcher and enthusiast Dr. Nakka Sai Bhaskar Reddy reports of evidence of a biochar tradition in India, similar to the Amazonian tradition of Terra Preta. According to Dr. Reddy, the Mundal tribes of Orissa, Jharkhand and West Bengal states have a tradition of fertilizing marginal soils with charcoal:
They mix charcoal with farm yard manure (pellets of small ruminants / cattle dung) and add to the red lateritic soils, which are other wise less fertile. They cultivate vegetables and green salad in the well fenced plots of about 1 acre in size. The biochar is mostly a byproduct from the biomass cook stoves in use(most often three stone stoves / simple clay earth stoves). They have access to wood from the jungles, which is used as fuel.
If Dr. Reddy’s claims are correct, this story implies that the biochar tradition may my significantly older than previously thought. In addition, Reddy’s account indicates that indigenous communities worldwide may rely on some for of biochar fertilization. More images of Dr. Reddy’s startling discovery are available here.