August 8, 2023
minute read

Introducing: The Biochar Basics

Given the vast array of potential benefits, use systems, and available feedstocks, navigating how to best implement biochar use on farm is not always straightforward. Understanding how biochar works to deliver sustainability and soil health improvements will help guide you in selecting the right biochar products and achieving your desired outcomes.

What is biochar?

Biochar is a nutrient and carbon-rich soil additive made from biomass. Using biochar in your manure management can help improve your organic fertilisers, enhancing its available nutrient content and reducing both greenhouse gas and ammonia emissions. By acting as a semi-biological fertiliser, biochar improves soil biological processes, helping both nutrient cycling and nutrient retention in the soil. In turn, this contributes to improved overall soil health and better crop productivity.

Infographic showing how biochar improves nutrient cycling in soils
Biochar acts as a semi-biological fertiliser, improving nutrient cycling and retention in soil.

How can biochar deliver benefits to farms?

Biochar must be tailored to different use cases to maximise its on-farm benefits. These include:

Livestock Bedding: A thin layer of biochar in livestock bedding acts as an absorbent and desiccant. It slows the moisture accumulation and helps reduce bacteria in bedding, while decreasing ammonia emissions.
Organic Fertiliser: Biochar in organic fertiliser improves composting and nutrient retention. It also reduces ammonia and greenhouse gas emissions and leaching from stored manure.
Soil Amendment: Once biochar is added to soil either directly or in manure, it acts as a semi-biological fertiliser, increasing good soil microbes. Its porous structure improves soil water properties and nutrient availability, making crops more resistant to climate stressors.

What can biochar do for you?

A growing sapling
  1. Build up soil carbon
  2. Improve nutrient cycling in soil
  3. Promote root development
  4. Increase soil available water and nutrients
  5. Enhance crop resilience to climate-related stressors
  6. Boost crop productivity
  7. Reduce emissions and leaching from stored manure
  8. Elevate nutrient availability in organic fertiliser
  9. Suppress bacteria in livestock bedding
  10. Works as an absorbent/desiccant in bedding

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The Biochar Basics

Our Biochar Basics series will go into detail how biochar works and can be used most effectively to deliver benefits in:

  • Bedding conditions
  • Organic fertiliser
  • Crop productivity
  • Environmental protection
  • Soil water
  • Soil carbon

The articles will be posted regularly, so stay tuned! This series is the start of our effort to build a resource hub for biochar, highlighting research, insights and practical advice to propel the wide-scale adoption of biochar in agriculture.

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