BioChar is an important ingredient in Garden Grande which:
- Improves the quality of soil
- Increases water retention
- Reduces fertilizer leaching
- Increases plant yield
Biochar is a fine-grained charcoal high in organic carbon and largely resistant to decomposition. It is produced from pyrolysis of plant and waste feedstocks. As a soil amendment, biochar creates a recalcitrant soil carbon pool that is carbon-negative, serving as a net withdrawal of atmospheric carbon dioxide stored in highly recalcitrant soil carbon stocks. The enhanced nutrient retention capacity of biochar-amended soil not only reduces the total fertilizer requirements but also the climate and environmental impact of croplands. Char-amended soils have shown 50 - 80 percent reductions in nitrous oxide emissions and reduced runoff of phosphorus into surface waters and leaching of nitrogen into groundwater. As a soil amendment, biochar significantly increases the efficiency of and reduces the need for traditional chemical fertilizers, while greatly enhancing crop yields. Renewable oils and gases co-produced in the pyrolysis process can be used as fuel or fuel feedstocks. Biochar thus offers promise for its soil productivity and climate benefits.
- courtesy of International Biochar Initiative
Biochar offers a unique solution to some of the world’s most critical problems including those of climate change, declining soil fertility, and the need for clean renewable sources of energy.
BIOCHAR PRODUCTS PROVIDE THE FOLLOWING BENEFITS TO FARMERS, GARDENERS AND THE ENVIRONMENT:
1. IMPROVED SOIL FERTILITY AND CROP YIELDS
2. LESS FERTILIZERS REQUIRED
3. IMPROVED WATER RETENTION, AERATION, AND TILTH
4. HIGHER CATION EXCHANGE CAPACITY, LESS NUTRIENT RUNOFF
5. CLEAN AND EFFICIENT BIOMASS ENERGY PRODUCTION
6. COMBINED HEAT, POWER, AND REFRIGERATION FROM PYROLYSIS
7. CARBON NEGATIVE PROCESS (SEQUESTERS CARBON FROM ATMOSPHERE)
8. GREATER ON-FARM PROFITABILITY
9. CAN HELP ALLEVIATE POVERTY IN THIRD-WORLD COUNTRIES
10. CAN BE FINANCED THROUGH CARBON MARKETS AND OFFSETS
11. LOW COST MEANS OF WATER PURIFICATION IN DEVELOPING COUNTRIES
12. DECREASED NITROUS OXIDE AND METHANE EMISSIONS FROM SOILS
13. POTENTIAL FOR LIQUID FUEL, ELECTRICITY AND/OR HYDROGEN PRODUCTION
14. REDUCED DEPENDENCE ON FOREIGN OIL
15. REVERSAL OF DESERTIFICATION ON MASSIVE SCALES
16. ALTERNATIVE TO SLASH-AND-BURN AGRICULTURAL
17. CAN WORK IN TANDEM WITH REFORESTATION/AFORESTATION EFFORTS
18. CAN PRODUCE ELECTRICITY, BIO-OIL, OR HYDROGEN FUEL SOURCES
19. CAN USE WIDE VARIETY OF FEEDSTOCK INCLUDING BIOMASS WASTE PRODUCTS
20. ENHANCED PLANT GROWTH
21. REDUCED LEACHING OF NUTRIENTS
22. REDUCED SOIL ACIDITY
23. REDUCES ALUMINUM TOXICITY
24. INCREASED SOIL AGGREGATION DUE TO INCUREASED FUNGAL HYPHAE
25. INCREASED SOIL LEVELS OF AVAILABLE Ca, Mg, P, and K
26. INCREASED SOIL MICROBIAL RESPIRATION
27. INCREASED SOIL MICROBIAL BIOMASS
28. STIMULATED SYMBIOTIC NITROGEN FIXATION IN LEGUMES
HOW DOES BIOCHAR AFFECT SOIL PH?
Biochar raises soil pH which is an important contribution to influencing soil quality. Soil pH mostly influences the relative availability of nutrients. At low pH, aluminum toxicity is particularly harmful to plant growth. Aluminum toxicity is an extensive and severe soil problem and biochar is the most available and obvious solution that we have to combat it. Soil phosphorus availability is highly dependent on soil pH range, and thus biochar can be used to substantially increase phosphorus availability in soils that are below the ideal pH range of 6.5 to 7.0.
HOW DOES IT AFFECT SOIL AND PLANT DEVELOPMENT?
Biochar enhances soil, retains water for plant usage and provides nutrients for plant growth. On a microscopic level, the biochar opens a latticework of carbon which provides spaces for microbes to live. These beneficial microbes help transport nutrients and water to plants.
HOW LONG HAS BIOCHAR BEEN USED TO BUILD SOIL?
Possibly the oldest description on charcoal use in agriculture is found in a text book, “Nogyo Zensho (Encyclopedia of Agriculture)” written by Yasusada Miyazaki in 1697. He described it as “ash manure”. Probably similar knowledge had been popular in China and Korea since ancient time. Biochar was also used by natives in Brazil and used as a soil amendment for the past 2,000 years, according to the International Biochar Initiative website.
Q&A: Biochar and retardation of growth in plants
This effect is negated when biochar is inoculated (or "impregnated") with nutrients, prior to use. Biochar functions as a "nutrient condominium." Biochar is very porous with high surface area which allows it to essentially fill up with nutrients and when its "full" it then starts excreting those nutrients into the rhizosphere.
When biochar is not inoculated prior to use, it fills up its own surface area, which can cause the retardation of growth as the biochar is fighting with the plant to absorb beneficial nutrients and micro-organisms. Garden Grande is mixed and then pelleted with other compost-like materials and in the process allows the biochar to become inoculated with those nutrients and organisms, thus "filling up" the biochar with the essentials to promote plant growth.
Many industries use non inoculated biochar or activated carbon as filters for the very reason of the ability to "suck up" toxins and heavy metals in contaminated soils via its high surface area and porous structure. Industries such as sugar refining use it as a purifying method, land reclamation after mining operations to absorb chemicals and heavy metals and also water filters such as the Britta. The same functions apply, when a Britta filter's (comprised of activated carbon) surface area is filled after a number of months, it must be changed. Thus, its a similar effect to a sponge, it fills up and then excretes.
The following website contains general information on biochar: http://www.biochar-international.org/