What is Biochar?
Biochar is an organic, carbon-rich product, created by the slow burning of plant material with little or no oxygen. Biochar is a stable solid, rich in carbon and will last in soil for thousands of years
The technique of using charcoal to improve the fertility of soils originated in the Amazon basin at least 2500 years ago. The native Indians of the region would create charcoal and incorporate it in small plots of land from 1 – 80 hectares in size. This area of Brazil is known as Terra Preta remains highly fertile to this day.
How does Biochar work?
Biochar acts as a soil conditioner and can be used on soils of very poor quality. Biochar retains moisture, helping plants to survive in very dry or drought conditions. It works as a natural fertiliser replenishing the soil with organic carbon and promotes the growth of soil microbes essential for nutrient absorption.
Why use biochar?
Bio char increases soil fertility leading to an increase in the strength of plants and crop yields, giving stronger, healthier plants that produce more fruit and vegetables. Biochar breaks down pesticides in the soil therefore making crops healthier to eat. Biochar also protects the soil from some soil-borne and foliar diseases
The effects of Bio Char on the environment
Biochar suppresses methane and nitrous oxide (two aggressive greenhouse gases) and locks carbon into itself. During production 50% of the carbon dioxide that the plant matter has absorbed is retained in the biochar, and remains locked in for hundreds of thousands of years. Used on a large scale, it can prevent some of the effects of carbon dioxide build-up in the atmosphere, thus reversing some of the effects of climate change.
How do you use Biochar?
1kg of biochar is needed for a 1m x 1m plot. If more is used it will not harm your plants. Dig over 30cm of topsoil, spread on the biochar and mix in evenly across the plot. A handful of Biochar can be added to soil in pots or planters to enhance the growth of vegetables in even the smallest spaces.