Bountiful benefits of biochar
We believe that how we grow our food is going to be part of how we heal and regenerate our beautiful atmosphere and earth. So there are obviously many ways to do this, and we all need to do our part in our own way, with our own passions and skills; for us improving and building soil is a big way we can help and one of the ways we improve and remediate our soil is through biochar.
Biochar is essentially charcoal, but not like the charcoal you buy. It is an age-old method of increasing soil health.
Biochar can be made from any biomass such as wood chips or twigs, bones, dried manure, nut shells etc. It is produced through pyrolosis – which is the burning of the wood in an oxygen limited environment so that the liquids and gases are released during pyrolosis and then leave mostly carbon behind. This remaining carbon is what we call biochar.
Biochar is great for improving soil structure, it is extremely porous, it is like a sponge and has a large surface area making it a great home for beneficial microbes to thrive and multiply. Because of its large surface area it can attract and hold nutrients and water and prevents them leaching from the soil, so great for sandy soils! Biochar needs to be inoculated or charged, so that it can start its work straight away. This can be charged through soaking it in compost tea or peeing in it (Marco's favourite) it can then be added straight to the soil or into your compost.
Biochar lasts for thousands of years, so even if you just put it on once you are helping, but the more the better! And because biochar is carbon, what a great way to do our part for climate change by helping to store carbon in the soil!
Why do we want to store soil carbon anyway? Why is this so important?
Carbon is basically what came before us, everything that has been (plant and animals) and has now died and gone back into the soil. Our world’s soils holds around twice the amount of carbon than in our atmosphere. When carbon is released into the environment it creates an overabundance of greenhouse gases that trap additional heat in our atmosphere causing it to warm up (i.e. climate change). Through our industrialised way of living we have lost so much of the carbon that was stored in the soil and now released into the atmosphere.
Carbon is the basis of soil fertility, health and structure and it releases nutrients for plant growth. So as we search for ways to keep carbon in our soil and out of the atmosphere, biochar may be part of the answer. And it may be part of the answer for your journey and finding small ways to help.
So how can you make biochar for yourself?
There are many different ways you can do this, we have experimented with making burners from old gas bottles, milo cans and stainless steel tubes. Through this process and realising the bountiful benefits of biochar we have decided to create a biochar burner for the home garden which will be in our shop soon.
If you want to make your own and have a play, here are a few video links below: