Biochar

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John

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Biochar
« on: August 04, 2019, 07:25 »
Last time I looked at biochar some years ago there were precious few scientific studies I could find about it. I filed biochar under “most probably a fad”.

How wrong I was! Not the first time and it probably won’t be the last. There have been many proper studies and trials in recent years. They basically prove that biochar will improve soils and grow better crops when used correctly. Yield increases of at least 20% and often more for biochar treated land are shown.

Possibly more important, biochar may turn out to be a very useful tool for reducing atmospheric CO2 - helping reverse climate change.

I started out with the aim of re-writing my article on biochar and it ended up as three articles. Start here: Biochar & Terra Preta
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Kevin_000

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Re: Biochar
« Reply #1 on: January 11, 2020, 13:13 »
On reading the last newslsletter:
The two photos were not like for like. One appears to be a deep tropical soil and the other a temperate uncultivated soil.

My plant roots do not go down as far as 2 metres either. The photos are not like for like, one is a very deeply dug soil (or midden) and the other an uncultivated woodland type setting. It's this sort of trickery along with the drive to make Youtube money (which is a  big dirvers with the biochar Youtubers, which make me tend toward the idea that it is just the next fad.

Before I am convinced I would want to see some independent comparative studies. For example is the biochar dug in deeply and how does that compare to digging in muck and/or compost to the same depth?

Secondly: what happens to the carbon on the char? Carbon is chemically stable and does not break down easily if at all. So is it merely a neutral porous substance charged with bacteria, fungi and nutrients? If so are those flora and fauna found in composts? If not does charging compost with them produce similar results?

Lastly on the subject of flora and fauna. If one is adding exotic (e.g. non local) flora and fauna to the soil are they still present a year later?  This is important. One reads a lot about people getting hold of one hundred year old sourdough starter cultures. These have supposedly improved steadily over time developing into exotic yeasts and such which make particularly tasty bread. Research over the last ten years has found that if you remove such a culture to your own place of abode then the original yeasts and bacteria are rapidly overtaken by your local wild populations. Is this relevant to biochar?

I believe a lot more independent work needs to be done before this is a 'good way to go', especially given the environmental concerns of burning wood and the large amount of work involved.

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John

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Re: Biochar
« Reply #2 on: January 11, 2020, 17:54 »
I believe the photo montage to be accurately described but rather than argue about an illustrative image, can I suggest you scroll down the article to the end where I reference some scholarly studies. You can also look for scientific papers on Google - google scholar is very useful for getting those.
In fact - have you actually read the piece? I usually find when people ask questions more or less answered in an article they haven't actually read it.


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