How Biochar Increases Soil Fertility

How Does Biochar Increase Soil Fertility?

In the battle to combat climate change, farmers and governments are turning to alternative energy sources like biochar to help. A product of biomass heated through a process called pyrolysis, biochar is an organic charcoal that not only benefits the environment but improves your soil as well.

Due to its impressive ability to sequester carbon in the soil, biochar can be an excellent method of reducing harmful CO2 in the atmosphere. It traps carbon through its sponge-like form. Similarly, the pores that make up its spongy texture also help biochar trap nutrients in the soil. This along with its other beneficial qualities allows biochar to increase soil’s overall fertility.

Read on to learn how biochar can boost the health of your soil and protect its long-term sustainability.

Absorbs and retains soil nutrients

Incorporating biochar into your soil helps improve nutrient absorption and retention. Biochar has a vast surface area with a complex structure of pores, which makes it optimal for these important functions.

By improving the retention of nutrients like nitrogen and phosphorus, biochar benefits soil quality and limits runoff to nearby water sources. It also increases the soil’s pH levels, further enhancing the health of the soil for better crop yields. Studies have shown that biochar can boost crop yields up to 4x the average.

Compared to other organic matter, biochar has high levels of persistency in soil and a low decomposition rate. Because of this, the nutrient absorption, nutrient retention, and other benefits of biochar can endure on the land for thousands of years.

Encourages growth of microorganisms

Due to its large surface area as well as its porosity, biochar is a fertile ground for microorganism and fungi growth. It offers a prime habitat for these organisms to thrive and breed, further enriching the productivity and health of the soil.

Because fungi form symbiotic relationships with roots, this helps improve the nutrient uptake of local plants.  Other microorganisms like rhizosphere bacteria that flourish due to biochar can further enhance plant growth.

Provides nutrients as a fertilizer

While the nutrients provided depend on the source of biomass used and the temperature of pyrolysis, biochar can work as a medium to deliver nutrients to the soil.

The amount and type of these nutrients, including nitrogen, phosphate, and ammonia, also depend on the pH of the soil and the time of application.

Biochar can also affect the physical and chemical properties of your soil. This helps to improve water retention through increased porosity. It also prevents the degradation of soil, so vulnerable land can be better sustained.

How can I start using biochar on my CRP land?

Aside from carbon sequestration and soil fertility, biochar offers additional benefits to farmers and landowners. Biochar improves water filtration on your land and reduces heavy metal concentrations in plant matter. With these enhancements, adding biochar to your soil is a no-brainer for improving your land and promoting plant growth.

If you’re interested in starting a biochar project, contact us at FDCE. Since 2006, we’ve worked on numerous bioenergy and biomass projects across the country to help farmers increase the sustainability of their land and the environment.

Reach out to us today to learn how we can help you get your biochar project off the ground.