What is Biochar?
Biochar is a charcoal-like material made from sustainably produced biomass from agricultural and forestry residues (e.g. corn stalks, hulls, wood chips, sunflowers, etc.). It is produced at high temperatures, ranging from 400°C to 800°C with little to no oxygen. This process is called pyrolysis or carbonization. When biomass undergoes pyrolysis, the carbon is rearranged in a stable form with unique properties and applications, and soil enhancement being one of them. Biochar improves soils health and biology as well as chemical and physical properties also increasing nutrient and water retention. when properly used it improves your crop yield.
Higher pyrolysis temperatures and other modifications, can produce carbon-based materials that can be used for filtering contaminants in water, air and gasses in household or industrial applications.
Biochar can be thought of as highly beneficial in three broad categories: for soil, for plants and for the environment.
For soil, biochar promotes positive biological, chemical and physical improvements.
Some biological changes are promoting the growth of many different types of microbes and the development of endo and ecto microryza and creating pores for the housing and protection of microorganisms.
Chemical changes are increasing the amount of organic matter in soil and cation and anion exchange capacity. Biochar is “pyrogenic organic matter/carbon”, nutrient holding capacity and releases slowly to plants, modify the electric conductivity in both ways, and buffering the pH in soil: basic materials and reduce soil acidity by acting like a liming agent and acidic biochar can reduce the alkalinity of soils.
- Physical changes:
- Hold water longer than soil because it acts like a sponge.
- Decrease compaction.
- Promote the formation of aggregates breaking and clustering compacted clay layers.
- Increase the water infiltration.
- Increase the aeration.
- Increase oxygen levels
For plants, growth depends on the soil quality, nutrient content, soil texture and structure, etc. Generally biochar helps to:
- Improve root structure and growth.
- Increase plant nutrient uptake.
- Increases yield and resiliency to weather.
- Increases available water by augmenting the range between wilting point and soil saturation levels.
- Creates healthier plants for fighting pests and diseases.
For the environment, Biochar sequesters CO2, the primary driver of climate change. How does biochar work to capture CO2? During a plant’s lifespan, it captures CO2 as it absorbs the carbon dioxide needed to perform photosynthesis. When the plant material is pyrolyzed in ARTi’s reactor, the CO2 captured by the plant during its lifetime will continue to be captured for hundreds to thousands of years in its new form as biochar. As biochar, the carbon is locked and cannot be broken down. In this form, the carbon is called recalcitrant. In some ways, biochar’s contribution to the climate change fight works as a relatively simple ratio. The more biomass, or agricultural residues we can prevent from decomposing and releasing CO₂ by transforming it into biochar, the more carbon we sequester and the greater impact we can make on reducing climate change. Biochar is the most affordable, reliable, scalable and proven technology for carbon sequestration making it a crucial tool against climate change and for soil health as well.