What is biochar?
Biochar is a carbon-rich solid that is made by heating organic material at a low oxygen level. It is an excellent soil enhancer and odor absorbent. See our webpage About Biochar for more information.
Is your biochar responsibly made?
Yes. Our biochar is made from post-production wood intended for the landfill, which would give off carbon dioxide as it decomposes. No trees are cut down in the making of our biochar. We’re very proud that we can repurpose the wood scraps and make a product that benefits the environment.
What are the benefits of biochar?
Biochar improves soil health, promotes better plants and yields, retains water and reduces the impact of climate change. It also improves the health of livestock and reduces manure odor. See our webpage Biochar Benefits for more information.
How is biochar produced?
Biochar is a carbon-rich solid that does not decompose over time, and it can remain in the soil for thousands of years. It is made by a process called pyrolysis that involves heating organic material (we use American White Oak wood) with very little oxygen to convert the material into carbon. The process converts carbon dioxide (CO2) gas into a solid. The resulting carbon is called biochar because the primary use is as a soil conditioner.
Each granule of biochar has millions of molecular bonding sites with both slight positive and negative electrical charges. The positive charge attracts plant nutrients like potassium, magnesium, and calcium. The negative charge attracts nutrients like nitrates, phosphates, and sulfates.
In its purest form, biochar offers no benefits to plant growth. It is a fantastic storage compartment. Biochar attracts and stores microbes, bacteria, fungi, and water; everything that is needed to produce healthy plants.
Is biochar different from the charcoal I use for my grill?
Natural lump charcoal and biochar use the same pyrolysis process of heating organic material with very little oxygen. It is essentially the same because charcoal and BioCha6 are made from wood. Briquet charcoal cannot be used as biochar because it contains chemical additives and accelerants in some cases that are toxic to plants.
Biochar6 is vastly different from charcoal in one very important aspect. The wood we use to make our biochar is post-production lumber that would have ended up in a landfill, so no trees were harvested to make our products as opposed to charcoal.
What types of organic materials can be used to make biochar?
Just about an organic material can be used to make biochar. The most popular materials include: wood, leaves, coconut husks, grasses, straw, bamboo. We use post-production White American Oak for our biochar.
How does biochar benefit the soil?
In its raw form, biochar offers no benefits to the soil or to plant growth. It is a fantastic storage compartment. Biochar attracts and stores microbes, bacteria, fungi, and water; everything that is needed to produce healthy plants. It then releases the nutrients and water to the plant’s roots.
Introducing biochar into your soil creates a carbon-rich environment that will transport the needed nutrients and water to plant roots for vigorous and healthy growth. Biochar also increases the fertility of acidic soils (low pH levels). Many gardeners say that adding biochar to their soil increases the size and yield and enhances fruits and vegetables’ flavor.
Can biochar be used for agricultural applications?
Yes. The optimal application is a 50/50 mix of biochar and manure or compost before spreading. This activates the biochar so their is no delay in planting. The biochar mix should be tilled or turned from 6-12” into the soil. Research has found that using activated biochar can increase many vegetables’ growth rate by 25-50%, compared to fertilizer alone.
How long will biochar last?
Biochar will last for thousands of years in your soil. The earliest known use of biochar was by the Amazonians in South America over 5,000 years ago. The soil in this region was inferior, and they discovered that burning organic matter in pits, then smoldering it with dirt created a black material (carbon). They mixed it with manure and turned it into the soil. To this day, the earth is still fertile in this region of the Amazon. It is believed that the Spanish brought biochar back to Europe and referred to it as the “Secret of El Dorado”. Research shows that the use of biochar was documented as early as 1697 by the Chinese, Koreans, and Japanese.
How does biochar benefit the environment?
Biochar has a positive impact on the environment in three very beneficial ways. First, biochar removes carbon (CO2) in the atmosphere and transforms it into a solid material advantageous to the soil. Biochar is not carbon neutral; it is carbon negative! Biochar reduces CO2 in the air and a negative impact on our climate.
Secondly, biochar is a soil enhancer that acts as a storage compartment for microorganisms, fungi, nutrients and retains water to promote root growth and healthier plants.
Finally, biochar holds in nutrients, unlike the annual use of chemical fertilizers washed away by rain and end up polluting our rivers, lakes, and streams.
How do I activate my biochar?
There are several ways to activate your biochar. Some are very simple and others are more complex. Activation can take a couple of weeks to a year. Please see our webpage Activating Biochar to determine the best method for you.
How much biochar should I use?
A good rule of thumb is 10% by volume to the amount of soil. Some customers have also had great results using 5%. You can estimate how much you need or use this formula for a more precise amount.
Example for a 4’ x8’ area:
Convert a 4ft x 8ft at a 6in depth to inches: 48in W x 96in L x 6in D = 27,648 cubic inches.
27,648 cubic inches divided by 1728 (cubic inches to cubic ft conversion) = 16 cubic ft.
16 cubic feet divided by 10 (10% application rate) = 1.6 cubic feet (Amount to apply).
Are there other uses for biochar other than plants?
Yes! Biochar acts as a highly effective odor reducer and feedstock enhancer. Spreading 5-15% biochar by volume on livestock bedding and litters (chickens, cows, horses, etc.) captures the urine and manure nutrients. It absorbs ammonia, which improves the smell and sanitation of the animal pens. See our webpage Biochar Benefits for more information.