BioChar: Agriculture’s “Black Gold”

Here’s a quick nugget of information for today. 

BioChar from bones and plants

Scientists have discovered that adding charcoal or other charred materials to soil is a much more effective fertilizer than any methods currently in use.  The main reason for this is that though land is naturally carbon-rich, over time and with increased use, retillage, etc, the carbon-rich materials break down into carbon dioxide and are released into the atmosphere.  Most fertilizers available today, even composts, break down quickly and are therefore only short-term solutions to soil depletion.  However, using charcoal in the soil adds a component that easily absorbs water, holds nutrients for thousands of years, and provides rich minerals to plants that access it.  The study, released by the American Chemical Society, must not have been music to their ears.  BioChar, or “black gold” for agriculture, as they term it, has been shown to remain in the soil for long periods of time and to retain its nutrient rich status.  Read the whole article below for more details.

I wonder myself if this is why American Indian populations used fire periodically to renew agricultiral areas.  Not only does this clear underbrush, leaving the land open for cultivation, it also provides a thick layer of BioChar available to be tilled into the soil.  If so, as is often the case, our native brothers and sisters were far ahead of the ecological curve in sustainable garden design.

Read more here: American Chemical Society (2008, April 15). Ancient Method, ‘Black Gold Agriculture’ May Revolutionize Farming, Curb Global Warming.

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6 Responses so far »

  1. 1

    Tom Humes said,

    Nice Site layout for your blog. I am looking forward to reading more from you.

    Tom Humes

  2. 2

    Erich J. Knight said,

    I hope you become as passionate as I have to spreading the news of the multiple solutions Terra Preta soils provides.
    I’m sort of a TP cub reporter for the list, most of my post are on news and collaborative efforts caught in my Google filters., my lobbying efforts with writers, companies, academics, journals or governments.

    If you have any other questions please feel free to call me or visit the TP web site I’ve been drafted to co-administer. http://terrapreta.bioenergylists.org/?q=node

    It has been immensely gratifying to see all the major players join the mail list , Cornell folks, T. Beer of Kings Ford Charcoal (Clorox), Novozyne the M-Roots guys(fungus), chemical engineers, Dr. Danny Day of EPRIDA , Dr. Antal of U. of H., Virginia Tech folks and many others

    Below is my current TP posting of News & Links which I promiscuously post to anyone who has an iron in this fire, cut and paste it freely .

    Cheers,
    Erich

    This technology represents the most comprehensive, low cost, and productive approach to long term stewardship and sustainability.Terra Preta Soils a process for Carbon Negative Bio fuels, massive Carbon sequestration, 10X Lower CH4 & N2O soil GHG emissions, and 3X Fertility Too.

    UN Climate Change Conference: Biochar present at the Bali Conference
    http://terrapreta.bioenergylists.org/steinerbalinov2107

    SCIAM Article May 15 07;
    http://www.sciam.com/article.cfm?articleID=5670236C-E7F2-99DF-3E2163B9FB144E40

    After many years of reviewing solutions to anthropogenic global warming (AGW) I believe this technology can manage Carbon for the greatest collective benefit at the lowest economic price, on vast scales.

    S.1884 – The Salazar Harvesting Energy Act of 2007

    A Summary of Biochar Provisions in S.1884:

    Carbon-Negative Biomass Energy and Soil Quality Initiative

    for the 2007 Farm Bill

    http://www.biochar-international.org/newinformationevents/newlegislation.html

    BIG Terra Preta Soil news;

    Biopact, a leading bioenergy web site, has announced the creation of a “Biochar Fund” to help poor farmers improve their quality of life without hurting the environment.
    http://biocharfund.com/

    Glomalin, the recently discovered soil protien, may be the secret to to TP soils productivity;

    The International Biochar Initiative (IBI) conference held at Terrigal, NSW, Australia in 2007. The papers from this conference are posted at their home page; http://www.biochar-international.org/home.html

    All the Biochar Companies and equipment manufactures I’ve found:

    Carbon Diversion
    http://www.carbondiversion.com/

    Eprida: Sustainable Solutions for Global Concerns
    http://www.eprida.com/home/index.php4

    BEST Pyrolysis, Inc. | Slow Pyrolysis – Biomass – Clean Energy – Renewable Ene
    http://www.bestenergies.com/companies/bestpyrolysis.html

    Dynamotive Energy Systems | The Evolution of Energy
    http://www.dynamotive.com/

    Ensyn – Environmentally Friendly Energy and Chemicals
    http://www.ensyn.com/who/ensyn.htm

    Agri-Therm, developing bio oils from agricultural waste
    http://www.agri-therm.com/

    Advanced BioRefinery Inc.
    http://www.advbiorefineryinc.ca/

    Technology Review: Turning Slash into Cash
    http://www.technologyreview.com/Energy/17298/

    Genesis Industries, licensee of Eprida technology, provides carbon-negative EPRIDA energy machines at the same cost as going direct to Eprida. Our technical support staff also provide information to obtain the best use of biochar produced by the machine. Recent research has shown that EPRIDA charcoal (biochar) increases plant productivity as it sequesters carbon in soil, thus reducing atmospheric carbon dioxide.

    http://www.egenindustries.com/

  3. 3

    Joe said,

    sweet, so the fire i started when i was a kid in the field across from my house wasn’t really that bad. cleared the weeds and amended the sand. word!

  4. 4

    Julia Bradley said,

    This is a wonderful idea. Congratulations for spreading it around.

  5. 5

    Really like this amazing article, really good job! It has really helped clear up a few questions I’ve previously had… many thanks for finding the time to write this post.

  6. 6

    new_biochar_land said,

    You want to know all the secrets about biochar ?
    This book will help !

    http://www.biochar-books.com

    Here practice and theory merge under a single cover of “The Biochar Revolution” and reveals hidden secrets of science called Biochar


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