Wednesday, June 02, 2010


I'm really excited about what I am learning about Biochar. So far I know only the very basics--but it all sounds incredibly promising!

Biochar is basically charcoal that is buried in your field/garden to improve yields. If you make it properly, up to 50% of the carbon remains in the biochar after "burning" (i.e. generating energy) in a low oxygen environment.

1) Biochar removes carbon from the atmosphere. And the carbon from the biochar remains in the soil for centuries. They say this is how the ancient Brazilians created the fertile Terra Preta.

2) Biochar improves the quality of the soil (according to the studies performed so far). Boosters say it can double crop yields, because it helps the soil retain water and nutrients.

I would really like to see more research into this!

How much should be added? When? (Is this a one and done, or an annual application?) What soil types does biochar help most? Does it help all crops equally? or does it only help certain crops?

3) Biochar generates energy when you make it.

I learned the few facts I know at a recent solar conference, where the speakers made the point that if you produced your biochar at night/cloudy days, then your biomass acts as your storage/battery. Solar + biomass (+ wind) means you can generate your energy whenever you need it. And if you use your biomass to create biochar you can even remove carbon from the atmosphere.

Considering all the bad climate news out there...biochar sounds like a really promising/exciting alternative that deserves some serious research funding!


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