Biochar and Soil
Biochar is charcoal produced from agricultural waste like wood, manure or leaves into a powerful soil enhancer that holds carbon and makes soils more fertile. Biochar could reduce local air pollution from agriculture by reducing emissions of nitric oxide from soil. Biochar from recycled waste may both enhance crop growth and save health costs by helping clear the air of pollutants, according to Rice University researchers. Added to soil, the porous carbon has been shown to boost crop yields, lessen the need for fertilizer and reduce pollutants by storing nitrogen that would otherwise be released to the atmosphere.
Biochar can improve the soil of low rainfall area or nutrient poor soils will most expected to see the largest impact by addition of biochar.
Sustainable biochar systems can be carbon negative as fossil fuels are carbon positive; they add more carbon dioxide (CO2) and other greenhouse gasses to the air, which cause global warming. Biochar can transform carbon in biomass into stable carbon structures in biochar which can remain sequestered in soils for hundreds and even thousands of years. The result is a net reduction of CO2 in the atmosphere.
Benefits of biochar that include:
- Reduced leaching of nitrogen into ground water
- Possible reduced emissions of nitrous oxide
- Increased cation
- Exchange capacity resulting in improved soil fertility
- Moderating of soil acidity
- Increased water retention
- Increased number of beneficial soil microbes