Biochar is basically charcoal but made with the intent to put it in the soil (instead of burning). Why would you want to do that? There are several, good reasons:

  1. Benefits for the Soil
    • Biochar is highly porous, hence it acts like a coral reef for the soil’s microorganisms.
    • Due to its porosity biochar helps with water retention.
    • For the same reason it helps with soil structure and aeration.
    • Biochar, like activated charcoal, binds nutrients and slowly makes them available to plants and soil life reducing the need for fertilizers.
  2. Benefits for the Climate
    • Biochar is a very stable form of carbon. Once put in the soil, it will remain there for thousands of years. Otherwise, carbon is returned to the atmosphere through regular decomposition processes. Thus biochar helps mitigate climate change by keeping carbon locked in the soil and out of the atmosphere.

Biochar is a wonderful soil amendment that works with compost and other fertilizers, helping promote soil life and through it, plant health and higher yields. And you don’t need to apply it continuously, since it is stable and its benefits will be reaped for centuries, as demonstrated by the Terra Preta discovered in Amazon Basin. Terra Preta is a highly productive, carbon reach soil found in the Amazon Basin, that’s otherwise known for its poor soils. Maze yields from Terra Preta is 63% higher than from the surrounding soils. It is believed that the indigenous peoples created Terra Preta hundreds of years ago by incorporating biochar blends into the soil. Their legacy still lives today. You can learn more about biocha, its history, uses and production methods from The Biochar Revolution book written by numerous experts in this field – the ‘all you need to know about’ biochar book.

You can make biochar yourself for use in your garden or farm. There are several different ways in which you can make biochar depending on your feedstock resources:

  • TLUD (Top Lit Up Draft) stove – relaticely small, uniform size feedstock such as woodchips, rice hulls, corn cobs, nut shells, etc. Examples: Champion Stove, TLUD stove made from 55 gallon barrels
  • Kiln – chunks or bigger pieces of wood. Examples: cone kiln (Kon Tiki), pyramid kiln.

Some methods and devices will let you reap more than one benefit from the charring process: e.g. biochar and heat used for cooking (like in our Champion Stove), or biochar, heat and wood vinegar. Please contact us if you would like to obtain stove plans, if you would like a workshop on biochar or need help with constructing a biochar stove. More biochar resources on the right.

Check out information on a clean burning, efficient cooking stove that also produced biochar: Champion Stove pictured below.


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