Biochar: A Low Cost Solution to the Impending Global Food Crisis


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Biochar is a plant based charcoal used to prevent drought in plants, increase yields by up to 140% in staple crops, retain fertilizer, decrease water usages, and sequester carbon in the soil for thousands of years. Go to International Biochar Initiative for more info!

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Biochar: A Low Cost Solution to the Impending Global Food Crisis

  1. 1. BIOCHAR: A Low Cost Solution for the Impending Food and Climate Crisis
  2. 2. What is it? • Biochar is a form of plant based charcoal that is produced for the purpose of soil improvement. • Biochar was first discovered as layers of fertile terra preta soils prized by farmers in Amazonian regions. • It was discovered that terra preta is composed of charcoal intentionally placed by early Amazonian peoples to improve water and nutrient retention in poor soils.
  3. 3. How Biochar Works • Biochar works through its micro-pore structure. • These micro-pores provides a, “soil reef” for microorganisms beneficial to food crops, such as nitrogen fixing bacteria. • The micro-pore structure also retains more essential nutrients and water better than average soil. • One teaspoon of biochar contains approximately 100 sq yards of surface area!
  4. 4. How it Benefits Agriculture • Experimental applications of biochar have increased yields by 140 percent in staple crops such as corn and wheat! • Biochar increases root mass, making plants more resistant to drought. • Biochar retains nitrogen and applied fertilizers. This decreases costs to farmers and runoff that is damaging to aquatic life and water quality. • Many of the most carbon deficient soils are found in Sub-Saharan Africa. These regions are also projected to be worst hit by the effects of climate change induced drought.
  5. 5. How it Benefits Ecosystems Biochar improves ecosystems by: -Recapturing atmospheric carbon to reduce the effects of climate change. -Improving water and nutrient retention in soils to increase plant biomass. -Promoting the growth of fungi and microorganisms beneficial to plant life and soil. -Preventing poisonous runoff of applied fertilizers into nearby watercourses. -Reduces methane emissions, a major greehouse gas.
  6. 6. How it Prevents Climate Change • Biochar presents the simplest and safest way to recapture carbon from the atmosphere and store it in soil for thousands of years! • Biochar presents a multitude of economic benefits by creating a saleable product with technology and raw materials that are extremely accessible worldwide.
  7. 7. Production of Biochar heat source Flammable wood gas • Biochar is produced through pyrolysis. • The process involves heating wood or other plant material in an oxygen free environment. • Pyrolysis separates out the chemical constituents of wood and leaves behind charcoal. • This is the same process used to create cooking and smelting charcoal for thousands of years! • The byproducts are biochar, flammable wood gas (which can be used as cooking fuel), and biocrude (a tar fuel).
  8. 8. Home Scale Kilns • Biochar may be produced from any dry agricultural or yard waste like wood chips, grass clippings, or sawdust. • There have been many simple designs for home scale biochar kilns composed of essentially three parts: -A metal barrel to hold plant material -A small fire to start pyrolysis -A supporting and insulating stone structure -An, “after burner” stove pipe or collection system for flammable wood gas
  9. 9. Industrial Scale Kilns • Industrial sized kilns have been developed and are already in operation. • This portable unit is produced by Colorado based Biochar Solutions Inc. • This unit is rentable to farmers as a way to produce a saleable product from agricultural waste during the autumn or used to improve their own fields.
  10. 10. Additional Benefits of Biochar 84mph truck powered solely by woodgas Clean and efficient cooking stoves in developing countries
  11. 11. Continued… +
  12. 12. References International Biochar Initiative Biochar Solutions BioChar Info: How to Make a Carbon Zero Experimental Biochar Kiln Biochar-Kiln.cfml