The Buzz “The benefits of improving their soil should be enough to persuade some farmers to make and bury biochar. Others, though, may need more incentives—probably in the form of carbon “offsets” that compensate for emissions elsewhere.” The Economist, August 27, 2009
“Energy market forecasts in the 1970s did not foresee the rapid development of gas-powered generation through integrated gasification combined cycle (IGCC) plants and it is very possible that similar new energy options will arrive in future. An example of one such promising technology, Biochar….a charcoal-like material produced by heating biomass with minimal oxygen (pyrolysis)…Biochar systems need to be developed on a meaningful scale to determine better their true sequestration potential.” Tony Blair, Former UK Prime Minister, 2009
The Opportunity Biomass waste can be converted into valuable commodities, but logistics drive costs past the market Biochar is a multi-level product; a soil enhancement, carbon sink, fuel source, waste diversion practice.
Benefits of Using Biochar Increased plant growth and crop yields Prevents leaching of nutrients in the soil, especially in the tropics Fewer chemical fertilizers needed Can correct soil acidity [Biochar is acid or alkaline, depending on temperature, time and oxygen used in pyrolysis] Stores carbon long term Increased EM population
Benefits Of Biochar Cont. Increased earthworm population Inexpensive soil amendment Sustainable farming possible for the poor Neutralizes bad odors, so perfect to add to a compost toilet Improved water retention in the soil Improved aeration and tilth Reversal of desertification Reforestation possible
Benefits Of Biochar Cont. Reduced runoff of phosphorus into surface waters Reduced leaching of nitrogen into groundwater Reduced soil compaction Improved soil drainage Increased nutrient cycling Improved germination Improved plant resistance to fungal disease, root feeding nematodes and insect infestations
Benefits Of Biochar Cont. Suppressed methane emission Reduced nitrous oxide emission Reduces aluminium toxicity Increased soil aggregation [gathering together of the soil] due to increased fungal hypha Increased soil levels of available Ca, Mg, P, and K Stimulated symbiotic nitrogen fixation in legumes Increased arbuscular mycorrhyzal fungi [the kind that attach to plant roots and exchange nutrients for sugars] Increased cation [a positively charged ion] exchange capacity