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Biochar is the carbon-rich solid matter resulting from the pyrolysis or gasification of organic matter. Pyrolysis is a process in which biomass is heated in an oxygen-deprived environment to break down into simpler substances. There is variability in the characteristics of biochar, depending on feedstock and pyrolysis process employed.

Research confirms biochar-enriched soils grow larger, healthier plants with greater yields, particularly in degraded or highly-weathered soils. Biochar’s very high surface area, adsorptive and absorptive properties enable numerous positive effects in soil including:

·  Increased water infiltration and water holding capacity

·  Improved soil structure, tilth and stability

·  Increased cation exchange capacity (CEC) – retaining cations and capturing anions

·  Increased adsorption of ammonium, nitrate, phosphate, and calcium ions

·  Increased nutrient retention over ordinary organic matter

·  Improved soil pH buffering and stability

·  Increased soil biology and diversity

·  Enhanced, denser root development

·  Reduced fertilizer runoff and leaching, especially nitrogen and phosphorus

·  Reduced total fertilizer requirements

·  Decreased emissions of nitrous oxide by 50-80%


In addition to creating a soil enhancer, sustainable biochar practices can produce oil and gas by-products that can be used as fuel, providing clean, renewable energy. Hans-Peter Schmidt listed 55 uses for biochar – besides sequestering carbon, improving soil condition and livestock health, biochar plays a significant role in many aspects of building, textiles, energy, human health and well-being and in the decontamination of polluted soil, air and water.





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