Achim Ecker, born in 1959, studied Social Work. He has lived and worked in the intentional community, ZEGG, Germany for 30 years and has taught communication skills for over 20 years. He is ZEGG's chief landscape designer, creating fertile soil and an edible landscape on glacial sand using Permaculture knowledge. He always seeks new edges to learn and teach. Since 2013 he has produced Biochar and Terra Preta soils. Building soil is his greatest passion - real soil in nature and building the ground for a human life free of fear.
In 2013 ZEGG in Germany found itself in a struggle to keep the right to their own sewage treatment and drinking water. So Achim Ecker looked for ways to reduce water consumption and reuse wastewater. He started to work with the fascinating prospects Terra Preta offers. Urine has the highest content of Nitrogen and Phosphorus (80% N and 50% P). So why waste carefully cleaned drinking water in a WC and destroy those elsewhere urgently needed nutrients in a sewage plant? Both Nitrogen and Phosphorus are valuable soil ingredients for plant growth and health. Peak Phosphorus is close. Nitrogen is taken out of the atmosphere in a technical process that uses lots of energy. Achim learned from an article from Ithaca Institute how to produce Biochar from brush in a Kontiki kiln (www.tinyurl.com/soil-biochar). They installed waterless urinals and urine tanks where it is fermented. The urine is pumped into a container and used to charge biochar (hot quenching of coals with fermented urine) and the compost stacks. It is important to note that the fresh charcoal must first be “charged” by soaking the charcoal for 2 to 4 weeks in any liquid nutrient like urine or plant tea. They also make and use Bokashi (lacto-acid fermentation of kitchen waste). With composted leaf earth, clay, Bokashi, grass clippings, and charged Biochar we set up a compost stack in layers and let it sit for a year. First experiments with Terra Preta substrata in the soil are very promising. Terra Preta is not just a fertilizer, it builds permanent fertile soil and sequesters carbon.