Whilst biochar improves animal bedding and housing conditions, it is important to ensure that biochar is appropriate for use in animal housing. Tailored biochar specified for use in bedding should be used.
Its high porosity at multiple scales and considerable water holding capacity make biochar an effective desiccant in bedding. Biochar is an effective adsorbent, which means that both organic molecules, such as amino acids, fatty acids, proteins and urea, as well as mineral compounds, stick to biochar surfaces and are retained. Keeping bedding clean and dry makes it more comfortable for the animals and improves hygiene. this reduces the risk of diseases such as mastitis and dermatitis and can improve yield.
Urea excreted on bedding is captured on and within biochar particles. This prevents volatilisation and ammonification of the urea compounds, which in turn increases nutrient retention. Using biochar-enriched bedding as a component in organic fertilisers, like when incorporated as farmyard manure, improves its nutritional value to crops and can limit the requirement of additional inorganic fertilizer application.
The high adsorption capacity and pH of biochar makes it possible to reduce the use of lime in cubicle bedding. Urea and amino acids can bind to biochar particles, preventing conversion to ammonia, in turn reducing ammonia emissions in housing and improving nitrogen retention.