Biochar is a black, solid substance which bears a strong resemblance to charcoal. It is carbon rich, lightweight and very porous, which helps create a positive soil environment for the growth of microbial and fungal life resulting in nutrient and moisture retention and healthier plant growth.

Sometimes referred to as ‘black gold’, biochar stores carbon for thousands of years as well as provides a host of soil health and environmental benefits.

How does biochar benefit soil?

  • High Porosity

    Biochar acts like a sponge, absorbing and retaining moisture and nutrients, and reducing run-off

  • Large Surface Area

    Makes biochar an excellent medium for mycorrhizal fungi which strengthens plant roots and increases healthy growth

  • Stable Carbon Structure

    Means biochar can lock carbon in the soil for hundreds of years, mitigating climate change

  • Preloaded with nutrients

    When mixed with compost or fertiliser the biochar can deliver nutrients more sustainably than direct application

How is it made?

Biochar is made through a process called pyrolysis. Here's a step-by-step explanation of how it works:

Collapsible content

1. Biomass collection

The first step involves gathering organic material, known as biomass. This can include wood, agricultural residues, manure, or other organic waste

2. Preparation of biomass

The collected biomass is often processed to achieve uniformity in size and reduce moisture content. This preparation ensures more efficient pyrolysis.

3. Pyrolysis

The prepared biomass is then subjected to pyrolysis. This involves heating the material to high temperatures (typically between 300°C and 700°C) in a chamber with little to no oxygen. The lack of oxygen is crucial as it prevents the biomass from burning completely.

4. Chemical transformation

Under these high-temperature and low-oxygen conditions, the biomass undergoes a chemical transformation. Instead of burning, it decomposes into several different substances, one of which is biochar.

5. Cooling and final processing

After pyrolysis, the biochar is cooled and can then be processed further if required, such as being ground into smaller particles.

the history of biochar

Terra preta, or Amazonian dark earth, enriches poor soils using biochar, bone, manure, and plant residues, creating nutrient-rich, moisture-retentive soil that promotes plant growth.

Central to its effectiveness, biochar improves soil health, supports a vibrant microbial ecosystem, and increases agricultural yields while sequestering carbon.

This ancient method, which offers a sustainable solution to modern agricultural challenges, inspires contemporary biochar products aimed at soil rejuvenation, crop productivity enhancement, and climate change mitigation, leveraging the wisdom of ancient soil enrichment practices.