What is biochar??? It is basically a charcoal like substance that is created intentionally as a soil improvement strategy. It is a recalcitrant form of carbon- one that resists microbial degradation for hundreds and often for thousands of years in soils. Most other forms of carbon that are commonly added to soils rather quickly are broken down and returned to the atmosphere as CO2. Adding good quality biochar to soils is 1 of several productive strategies, (seeFAQ- below) ways to add carbon to the most productive place- the soils.
Future opportunities: Biochar has tremendous potential to be an integral part of regenerative agricultural, gardening and horticultural systems. It can contribute to the establishment of hopeful rural and suburban economies. One can create clean, renewable and carbon negative energy while making biochar. Incorporating it in soils, ideally after a period of inoculation with active compost, can help to dramatically improve water quality outcomes, increase cation exchange, stimulate the soil food web and significantly reduce fertility requirements by holding nutrients, water and oxygen in plant available form.
It is critical to “get it right” with this developing industry and movement by insuring that biochar systems and businesses meet the highest ethical and sustainability standards. Industrial scale monoculture based biochar operations could in some cases do more harm than good and must be viewed with great caution.
Biochar is not always the highest and best use of a given bit of biomass; I like to think of it as one new arrow in the quiver of those working to develop methods of growing healthy crops in ways that are a kindness to and with all of creation.”