Biochar enhanced compost is a product we are working on with the Kulshan Carbon Trust. It should be available in 2024!

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What is Biochar?

The thermal process that produces biochar is called pyrolysis (from the Greek, “pyro,” meaning fire and lysis,” meaning separation). During pyrolysis, the crucial trace elements found in plants (over 50 metals) become part of the carbon structure, thereby preventing them from being leached out while making them available to plants via root exudates and microbial symbiosis.

A range of organic chemicals are produced during pyrolysis. Some of these remain stuck to the pores and surfaces of the biochar and may have a role in stimulating a plant’s internal immune system, thereby increasing its resistance to pathogens.

The best method of loading nutrients is to co-compost the char. This involves adding 10-30% biochar (by volume) to the biomass to be composted. Co-composting improves both the biochar and the compost. The resulting compost can be used as a highly efficient substitute for peat in potting soil, greenhouses, nurseries and other special cultures.

Benefits of Biochar

  • Increasing water retention and can reduce watering
  • Moderates acidity
  • Improving electrical conductivity
  • Reduced loss of nitrogen from leaching
  • Improving microbial properties by creating more structure to support microbes
  • Increased fungal activity from increased nitrate and reduction in ammonia
  • Decreased bulk density – Biochar is lighter than compost and can lighten the overall weight for easier handling.
  • Greater aeration – Biochar is a lighter structure that does not decompose over 100’s of years. The granules and flakes of biochar create a more manageable compost blend for planting.
  • Replaces the need for peat and vermiculite
  • Accelerating composting progress
  • Provides a clean dark color
  • Reducing compost’s ammonia losses, bulk density, and odor
  • Reducing the need for chemical fertilizers
    (The Biochar Journal, Schmidt HP and Wilson K)
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