Biochar is a term dubbed for charcoal that is used to fertilize soil, the benefits of this extremely simple technology are numerous and outstanding! Ecologists, permaculture experts and large organizations alike have been praising the use of biochar as an excellent environmental stabilizer. There are many different manners of creating biochar and some of which even include generating electricity and burnable fuels! Combining the creation of biochar for energy followed by using it for agricultural purposes solidifies it’s place in sustainable culture!
As of late even the mainstream media has been propagating the use of biochar to combat climate change, lets face the bitter fact that if it were not for this element then the mainstream media would likely not pick up biochar as interesting news. The rest of this article will highlight companies and organizations, provide education on how to create biochar with mixing ratios for fertilization and will end with some recent news from mainstream media outlets.
The International Biochar Initiative’s website contains a plethora of invaluable information on the many benefits of utilizing Biochar.
“This 2,000 year-old practice converts agricultural waste into a soil enhancer that can hold carbon, boost food security and discourage deforestation. The process creates a fine-grained, highly porous charcoal that helps soils retain nutrients and water.”
“Biochar can be an important tool to increase food security and cropland diversity in areas with severely depleted soils, scarce organic resources, and inadequate water and chemical fertilizer supplies.
Biochar also improves water quality and quantity by increasing soil retention of nutrients and agrochemicals for plant and crop utilization. More nutrients stay in the soil instead of leaching into groundwater and causing pollution.”
“The carbon in biochar resists degradation and can hold carbon in soils for hundreds to thousands of years. Biochar is produced through pyrolysis or gasification — processes that heat biomass in the absence (or under reduction) of oxygen.
In addition to creating a soil enhancer, sustainable biochar practices can produce oil and gas byproducts that can be used as fuel, providing clean, renewable energy. When the biochar is buried in the ground as a soil enhancer, the system can become “carbon negative.”
What is Biochar?
The following video, starring a good friend and permaculture expert, explains some of the many benefits of biochar.
“A World to Win presentation by Ben de Vries”
—==(Producing and Using Biochar)==—
Making Biochar to Improve Soil (a 4 page guide)
By making biochar from brush and other hard to compost organic material, you can improve soil — it enhances nutrient availability and also enables soil to retain nutrients longer.
Mother Earth News
Make your own BioChar and Terra Preta
Making a Biochar Stove
Milkwood (Has Really Nice Step by Step Pictures)
Biochar Compost in the Garden: A Soil Story
Using Biochar in the Garden – An Excellent How To by Master Gardener Scott
Ways of Making Terra Preta: Biochar Activation
Biochar is not a fertilizer, but rather a nutrient carrier and a habitat for microorganisms. First of all it has to be charged to be biologically active in order to efficiently utilize its soil-enhancing properties. There are numerous methods of activating and producing substrates similar to Terra Preta aside from mixing biochar with compost.
—==(Companies and Organizations)==—
ALL Power Labs (APL) is the creator of the Gasifier Experimenter’s Kit (GEK). The following statements are taken directly from their website.
“ALL Power Labs is an incubator for open source energy experiments and distributed manufacturing solutions. We work to generate physical tools and information resources for people exploring alt energy through DIY innovation and online collaboration.
We believe that a bottom up, participatory ecology in energy is just as possible as it has been in computing. And we expect the impact of such creative self-determination in energy, will be no less transforming than has been in digital realms.”
“ALL Power Labs is the new global leader in small-scale gasification. We make biomass gasifiers that are ready for everyday work, to serve real world distributed energy needs.”
“Our project started in 2008 with the open source Gasifier Experimenter’s Kit (the GEK), supporting research, education and DIY hacking in biomass thermal conversion. Five years later the GEK has evolved into the Power Pallet— a fully automated solution for personal scale biomass power generation.
Today you can find over 400 of our systems in over 40 countries, and supporting research in over 50 universities.”
Eprida is another amazing company which bases it’s work in sustainability and a cleaner environment for all living beings. The following statements are short excerpts pertaining to their mission.
“Eprida, Inc. was founded in 2002 as a Delaware Corporation to provide a commercial vehicle for exploring innovative solutions to global challenges. Our first research focused on addressing global warming and has led to breakthrough innovations in renewable energy, carbon capture and carbon utilization for sustainable agriculture.”
“Our methods address the global issues faced by all life:
– Too much carbon in the air causing global warming
– Too little carbon in the soil, causing topsoil loss, reduced soil fertility and agricultural yields.
– Too much nitrogen and other manmade chemicals in water runoff, causing hypoxia, loss of coral and other ocean life.
– Too little renewable energy production to meet increasing global needs, causing CO2 emisions from fossil fuels to grow.
Eprida’s technology services offers an elegant, profitable and truly sustainable closed loop solution to these challenges. Our design services can help provide you with a unique bio-energy platform to transform biomass into a combination of sustainable products.”
Biochar Could “Turn Back Clock” on Climate
“Thus far, funding and policy support for biochar have been uneven, although there is clear government interest in the United States and the European Union.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture has perhaps shown the greatest institutional interest to date, financing a regular series of small grants for continued research into biochar, particularly at universities. Yet while attempts have been made in the U.S. Congress to secure funding in major agricultural legislation, these have not yet been successful.”
Thomson Reuters Foundation
New Database Captures the Benefits of Biochar
“The origins of biochar, a charcoal-based soil amendment, are almost mythic. In the Amazon Basin, a rainforest region with typically infertile soils, some areas have been discovered to have ground that is almost black and rich in nutrients. The soil’s dark color is derived from its high organic matter content, believed to originate from charcoal added to the soil some 2,500 years ago, either intentionally or as a waste product from cooking.
Recently, there has been a growing interest in whether the fertility of these “amazon dark earth soils” can be replicated in modern farming practices. A new UC Davis database helps users and researchers better understand that replicability.”
Can Agriculture Reverse Climate Change? A Future Tense Event Recap.
“The current industrialized food systems—factory-style farming that consumes massive amounts of resources and relies heavily on chemicals—that are widespread in developed countries are a major contributor to climate change. But it doesn’t have to be that way. Key shifts in the way we produce food could take agriculture from a climate bust and turn it into a climate boon. This undertaking is the cause that gave rise to a Future Tense event at the New America Foundation on Thursday, July 25, called “An Agricultural Revolution to Fight Climate Change?” The event brought together a number of experts for panel discussions about how to spur on an agricultural transition—from an industrial process to an ecological, innovative method.”