BioChar-Carbon Sequestration and Soil Fertility

Black Soil, biochar, a special kind of charcoal, has been discovered in the Amazon jungles, as well as in Japan.  Tierra Preta,  as it is also called in Brazil, has amazing properties.  In the midst of large amounts of rainfall, where large quantities of biochar have been introduced into the soil, the soil’s fertility has lasted for centuries. This special kind of charcoal retains nutrients for plants and creates a most hospitable environment for microorganisms and has provided fertile soils for large populations in the Brazilian jungles for several thousand years.

As the “charcoal” withstands being broken down for long periods of time, modern soil scientists and farmers have realized Biochar could be the most effective way to sequester carbon out of the atmosphere, while adding to a soil’s fertility.  Most any material that contains carbon can be “cooked” to not only create a charcoal like product, but also the gases released during cooking process, pyrolysis, can be used as a substitute for fossil fuel. These two together have raised the specter that creating biochar out of waste carbonaceous material (agricultural wastes, etc) could be a major part of a long term solution to global warming, while adding to a soil’s fertility…

Biochar’s sponge-like quality increases a soil’s moisture holding capacity.  It binds fertilizer until a plant needs it, so less fertilizer is required, and polluting fertilizer runoff is greatly reduced.

Here is a Q&A which answers some of the many questions that come with a relatively newly discovered product that sounds to good to be true.

As you come across useful biochar websites, please add them here! Usually biochar is best for acidic soils, but apparently there are ways to produce it so it is beneficial in alkaline soils as well.  Friends here in New Mexico would love to have access to a source to help build our soils’ fertility, retain moisture, create a renewable fuel,  and sequester carbon back into the earth.

Together we can separate fact from fiction, share what works, and make sustainable real!!

  1. This is awesome, pyrolysis via glass jar in water tank!
  2. Staged Pyrolysis….how is this useful?

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