What it is, its benefits and an opportunity to scale it globally
Biochar is a charcoal-like substance that’s made by heating organic waste (also called biomass) in an oxygen-limited environment. It can be combined with organic matter and incorporated into soil to enhance its ability to grow food. Many organizations around the world are training people on how to make and utilize biochar such as the International Biochar Initiative. As well, there is a major initiative called Biochar Life by Warm Heart Worldwide that is underway to help smallholder farmers to receive payment for producing biochar. Therefore, small-holder farmers and rural schools that generate and utilize biochar can earn money from this biochar as well as grow more food.
- It is a charcoal-like substance and is made by heating biomass in the range of about 300 to 800 deg. C in an oxygen-limited environment.
- When added to soil, it remains in this soil for centuries.
- It enhances soil to improve its food productivity
- It makes crops more resilient to drought.
- Making bio-char produces considerable surplus heat, which can be used in several ways including generating electricity and heating buildings.
Potential for implementing biochar on a global scale:
- Individuals around the world can make biochar in their backyard with small-scale systems.
- Small to medium enterprises (SMEs) can manufacture and sell biochar on small to medium commercial scale.
- Biochar manufacturing systems can be combined with other technologies to generate reliable power and negative carbon emissions.
Enhancing the impact of biochar:
- Co-composting it with animal manure and/or food waste can dramatically increase the productivity of soil.
- It can be combined with girls’ education to increase food security and reduce population growth rate.
- Since creating biochar and using it in soil is an accepted method of reliably sequestering carbon by several carbon offset trading platforms, individuals and/or organizations can to earn substantial money by selling biochar-related carbon offsets using these platforms.
Organizations and technologies available to enable rapid global scale-up:
- There is an international biochar organization with many chapters around the world. To view its website, visit: International Biochar Initiative.
- A whole ecosystem of manufacturers, suppliers and consultants relating to biochar exists. For example, see: US Biochar Suppliers and Manufacturers.
- Can be combined with food security aid and girls’ education communities for broad-based global scale-up.
Substantial information is available about biochar technology and its benefits. For example, see:
ii) What is Biochar? Nov 5, 2019
iii) Biochar – animated explainer for Carbon Gold
iv) Biomass pyrolysis process, Mar 30, 2017
ii) Amazon Soils & Biochar.
iii) How to make Biochar from locals in the Peruvian Amazon.
iv) The Promise of Biochar – one study showed about 880% increase in food production.
v) Biochar in Viticulture Webinar, Jan 14, 2022
vi) BioChar Related Information Resources by Woodgas International
vii) Benefits of BioChar by Char-Grow: Biochar the Grow Superhero
viii) The Ultimate Guide to Biochar: how to make it, how to use it, and why it’s important, Jul 5, 2020
ix) Video: The Promise of Biochar – Part 1 – adding biochar along with mineral fertilizer to some poor soil helped it grow 880% more food
x) Biochar in agriculture – A systematic review of 26 global meta-analyses, 2021 by Hans-Peter Schmidt, et al.
xi) A quantitative understanding of the role of co-composted biochar in plant growth using meta-analysis 2019 by Wang, et al.
xii) Review of Large-Scale Biochar Field-Trials for Soil Amendment and the Observed Influences on Crop Yield Variations, 2021 by Vijay, et al.
a) Biochar for future food security: An overview, June 2017
b) Making Biochar to Improve Food Security and the Environment, Miles, T.
c) Biochar-based fertilizers for improved food and nutrition security
Manufactures of biochar can be paid the carbon capture and storage via carbon emissions trading marketplaces, such as the following:
a) Puro Earth (recently acquired by NASDAQ) – a B2B marketplace, standard and registry focused solely on carbon removals”.
b) Carbon TradeXchange
c) PowerNext – European Energy Exchange
d) Commodity Exchange Bratislava
Major international initiatives can support global production and utilization of biochar:
Since research has shown that girls’ education substantially reduces carbon emissions and this education can include training on biochar production and utilization, education initiatives can be very complementary to biochar initiatives. Therefore, organizations facilitating climate-smart education are included in the list below:
There are several climate finance support centres around the world. For example, given below are some based in Africa:
To learn more:
To learn more about biochar, get updates on events and technology, and communicate with those who believe in the importance of biochar, consider joining one of these forums. Forums are a great way to meet others in the field and network.