What is biochar?

Another definition of biochar from the West Australian:

There’s been a lot of talk about biochar over the past few years and some pretty amazing claims of what it can do for plant life.

It’s important to get the facts on what biochar is, and what has been scientifically studied on what it actually does.

Biochar is basically charcoal that contains high levels of stable carbon that has been produced by the decomposition of a biomass. This decaying process has taken place without actual combustion and or much oxygen. This is known as pyrolosis.

In the process of pyrolosis of organic substances we end up with a solid (charcoal), a liquid (bio-oil) and a gas (syngas). Biochar is the name given to charcoal when its purpose is to use it as a soil conditioner. The long-term benefits of using biochar are to provide sustainable soil fertility, improve nutrient-holding and water-holding capacities and aid soil structure.

Research has shown that biochar can improve the biological community increasing soil biota that has an influence on stronger root growth. Some users believe the incorporation of biochar in the soil also increases a plant’s resistance to disease; there is however no scientific evidence to prove this correct.

There are quite a few different biochars coming on to the market, but it must be remembered there are enormous differences in the chemical, physical and biological properties between different biochars. There will be some data coming out soon, but in our poor soils it’s definitely worth trialling in your own garden.

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