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Biochar: What It Is, Why It Matters

  • Organic Consumers Association, October 15, 2013

For related articles and more information, please visit OCA's Environment and Climate Resource Center page and our Organic Transitions page.

Biochar is created by slowly heating biomass (wood and other plant materials) in a low-oxygen environment, such as a kiln, until everything but the carbon is burned off, and then put back into the ground.

Biochar can help reverse rising CO2 levels in the atmosphere, improve overall soil quality, and raise soil’s water retention ability. It also helps “filter” toxic chemicals in the soil.

Biochar has been around since ancient times. Yet few people today know what it is, or that it can be used to supercharge compost, increase soil fertility and sequester carbon.

By adding biochar to just 10 percent of the world’s croplands, we could store 29 billion tons of carbon dioxide equivalent. This roughly equals the world’s annual greenhouse emissions.

For more on biochar:
The Biochar Solution, by Albert Bates.
How Biochar Can Help Depleted Soils
International Biochar Initiative

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