ricionterra – A phenomenon and its discovery

Another pillar in our technology cosmos is the utilisation and valorisation of organic residues to obtain high-performance products based on Terra – or more precisely “Terra Preta”.

More than 7,000 years ago, indigenous civilisations in the Amazon region began to produce “terra preta” (“black earth”) from domestic “waste” and charcoal – one of the most fertile anthropogenic soils in the world. Today, it is not only this phenomenal soil, which permeates the otherwise barren rainforest soil and has puzzled international research teams since the end of the 1970s, that fascinates us – the regenerative way of life of this advanced civilisation is also of great importance to us today! Instead of sacrificing the forests to their growing cities, the houses and gardens were embedded in the forests – so-called forest garden cities were created.

From today’s perspective, “Terra Preta” was a perfect approach for a closed-loop economy, which even then recognised the soil as an elementary basis for life in terms of regeneration and valued biogenic settlement “waste” as a resource. With the European conquerors from the middle of the 14th century, this production method fell into oblivion. However, these fertile terra preta areas still exist today, spread throughout the Amazon rainforest, where farmers still achieve good harvests.

The historical Terra Preta soils are still characterised today by their exceptional fertility and enormous regenerative capacity! Plants in Terra Preta are optimally supplied with nutrients and water, grow vigorously, produce many flowers and fruits, are more resistant to pests and mature earlier. The soil life is active, leads to a significant build-up of humus and counteracts weak soils (desertification).

In 2007, our CTO Joachim Böttcher played a leading role in solving the scientific mystery of “Terra Preta”. The key lay in the former process of mixing organic municipal waste with charcoal and fermenting it in simple clay pots in the absence of air. Joachim was able to prove that certain symbiotic soil fungi and bacteria were activated by the fermentation process and permanently colonised the pore surfaces of the charcoal.

Since then, Joachim and his team have been working on transferring the original production method to modern technical standards. Since 2010, we have been producing “Terra Preta” substrates that have the properties of the original Terra Preta do Indio and even surpass them.

Key technology

An essential basis of the ricionterra process is fermentation, i.e. a special biological process that takes place in two steps; firstly, anaerobic lactic acid fermentation takes place, which lowers the pH value and produces lactic acid. In the second step, the desired reductive microorganisms such as yeasts, photosynthetic bacteria and certain fungi multiply and enter into a stable symbiosis. This ensures that the organic matter is not largely metabolised, as is the case with rotting or composting. Instead, the biomass is converted and stabilised. The energy bound in it is largely retained. In the ricionterra process, biochar is biologically activated by fermentation. The resulting concentrate – ricionterraInitial– is the basis for all ricionterra products and for numerous process applications.

ricionterra, with all its areas of application, is a key technology that represents effective climate protection thanks to its permanent carbon sequestration. According to the IPCC, Terra Preta and biochar are regarded as key technologies for rapid and comprehensive CO2 sequestration with a global impact. The consistent further development of this key technology contributes to active climate protection, the closing of biogenic material cycles and soil regeneration and is therefore part of the solution to many global challenges.

ricionterra – Products and effects

Our ricionterra products have outstanding properties that are suitable for closing regional material cycles and for soil regeneration.

Special features and benefits:

  • Biological activation of biochar
  • Utilisation of biogenic residues
  • Extraction of high-quality soil substrates
  • Production of peat-free growing media
  • Production of high-quality, long-acting organic universal fertilisers
  • Promotion of humus formation in agricultural soils
  • Regeneration of degraded soils
  • Improving the water storage capacity and infiltration behaviour of agricultural soils (increasing climate resilience and flood prevention)
  • Improvement of the nutrient retention capacity of agricultural soils (reduction of fertiliser use, groundwater protection)
  • Decontamination of contaminated soils

ricion problem solutions

  • Treatment of fermentation residues from biogas plants
  • Treatment of agricultural fertilisers and closing of operational cycles
  • Regeneration of degraded or acidified soils
  • Remediation of contaminated soils, e.g. PAH, MKW, PFAS …
  • Replacement of chemical fertilisers for agriculture and horticulture
  • High CO2 sequestration in the soil – (CO2 certificates)
  • Wastewater treatment via “HBF”