How a pre-Incan civilization thrived in the Chilean Atacama desert thanks to a natural super-fertilizer

It is known that even small amounts of seabird guano fertilizer has a massive impact on the nitrogen isotope ratios in modern maize, raising them far above what is possible either naturally or using any other fertilizer.

RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL - The Atacama Desert in northern Chile is one of the driest places on earth; it has seen no rain at all in years.

The water shortage was addressed using water from oases and complex irrigation systems. For soil nutrients, the solution they hit upon – centuries before the arrival of the Inca in around 1450 – was to bring a super-fertilizer from the coast in the form of seabird excrement, or “guano”..

This was the key finding of a new research in which the remains of 246 crop and wild plants found in 14 archaeological sites in . . .

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