The Hans India – News Paper Let a thousand flowers bloom with ‘biochar’ The concrete jungle in which we ‘live’ these days makes everyone aspire for a beautiful garden on the terrace or balcony with blooming flowers or kitchen gardens that abound in luscious vegetables. Such gardens are no longer a big deal if only people start using ‘biochar’. The Hans India’s correspondent Venu K Kodimela digs deep into this natural soil nutrient.In a concrete jungle everyone aspires for a beautiful garden with blooming flowers andvegetables on terraces and balconies. Lack of time to water the plants regularly andapplication of fertilizers and pesticides could make one to put off their plans indefinitely.Biochar is a right solution for enriching fertility of soils and improving productivity ofplants through natural and sustainable process.Dr Saibhaskar Reddy Nakka, founder of and CEO of Geoecology Energy Organisation(GEO) has come up with ‘biochar’ for sustainable agriculture and allied activities. Biochar is simply a mix of charcoal, farmyard manure, soil microbes, vermicompost, mulch, micro-nutrients, sand, gypsum, fertilizers, and silt are used to enhance the fertility of the land.Farmers have been using charcoal and ash as part of traditional and cultural practices. “The value of Biochar was known to man for centuries. The evidence of the use of biochar for improving soil fertility is found all over the world. “Terra Preta was practiced for more than 5,000 years in the Amazon basin even before the arrival of Europeans,” Dr Reddyexplained.He pointed out that rural trash consisting of pottery shards, fish bones, compost etc wasadded to the less fertile acidic soils in the rain forests to improve their fertility.“Biochar isan excellent media for rooftop gardens. When added to the soil the density of the resultantsoil composition reduces, thereby lessens weight on the rooftop.”The urine could be diluted and added to the plants for improved fertility. The biodegradablegarbage can be easily disposed off in the roof garden, the methane emissions are reducedand composting is accelerated due to presence of higher density of soil life.The earthworms density increases with about 3% to 5% of the biochar application. Therooftop would be cooler due to these gardens as there is protection for direct sunlight. Withlittle water the gardens can be easily maintained as the soil moisture is retained.Talking about traditional practices, Dr Reddy said the farmers burned crop residue in thefields. In the process, the earth also gets burnt. Though this practice benefited the soils andfarmers for ages, it is no longer sustainable because of population growth and sustainabilityof the forests.
“There is a need to create awareness among the farmers to continue traditional practices ofbiochar application and also adopt appropriate technologies for improving the fertility ofthe soils and their sustainability,” said, adding that biochar production and applicationshould be done locally rather than large scale production and dissemination.Initially biochar is in capable of dissolving in water, but after few days of curing it looseshydrophobicity to some extent. This property of biochar having two characters of likingand not liking water makes it unique, for soil life, nutrients and minerals along with waterand air adsorbtion and circulation in the soil. The presence of water in charcoal / moistureattracts many small insects, creatures and soil microbes to take shelter near or undercharcoal.Dr Reddy is organizing exhibitions in the city to reach out to garden lovers. He may bereached at firstname.lastname@example.org