Uses of Biochar
Biochar is a rich carbon substance that is highly porous and entirely safe for environmental application.
In addition to reducing soil emissions of greenhouse gases, biochar serves many purposes in regenerative agriculture, from improving soil quality to livestock feed productivity and water filtration treatments. It offers long-term amendments that include resistance to decomposition, beneficial nutrient bioavailability in soil, soil water retention, and reduction of nutrient runoff.
Biochar technology offers a promising solution to mitigate climate change by reducing contamination and securely storing carbon in a cleaner and more efficient compared to traditional forms of coal. One ton of biochar is equivalent to three tons of CO2 sequestered. In sustainable soil management, the energy sectors can reduce emissions by redirecting and repurposing agro-waste from landfills into biochar production.
Globally, soil degradation is a constant concern within the agriculture industry. We can improve soil quality and compost properties by adding biochar to compromised soils. The structure of biochar is unique in its benefits to hold moisture, nutrients (including nitrogen and phosphorus), and agrochemicals, and its main enhancing features include:
- Increasing water retention
- Moderating acidity
- Improving microbial properties
- Improving electrical conductivity
- Regulating nitrogen leaching
- Accelerating composting progress
- Reducing compost’s ammonia losses, bulk density, and odor
- Reducing the need for chemical fertilizers
Improving the soil structure leads to the complete utilization of nutrients, enhanced growth of plants, and higher profitability for farmers. In addition, biochar has a longer shelf-life, is low-cost, farm and environmentally friendly compared to traditional fertilizers in enhancing crop yields.
Biochar can extract pollutants like metals and metalloids or dissolved organic carbon (DOC) in stormwater, increasing the soil’s water and nutrients capacity and resulting in remediating soil contaminants. The removal of pollutants is done by increasing the soil’s hydraulic conductivity and reducing the peak flow of stormwater.
- Metal Removal
- Contaminants of Emerging Concern (CECs)/Organic pollutant removal
- Nutrients removal by biochar
- Downspout filter boxes
- Bioswales and rain gardens
- Infiltration trenches
Therefore, biochar has great potential to be implemented in a stormwater management system from environmental and economic perspectives. For example, it can be used as a filter media to remove new and already-established contaminants. In addition, biochar has excellent potential as a Low Impact Development (LID) material in planting cells since the township utilizes a variety of LID solutions in new neighbourhoods, depending on the characteristics of the specific development.
Agriculture uses for Biochar
Basic biochar applications include drinking water filtration, sanitation of human and kitchen wastes, and as composting agents. All these applications have been documented in many different pre-industrial developments. However, biochar should only be worked into the soil at the end of such “cascades,” keeping in mind that some biochar uses – for cleaning up metal or chemical contamination – would render the biochar unsuitable for agricultural soils and need different recycling pathways.
The cascaded use of biochar in animal farming
- Silage agent,
- Feed additive/supplement,
- Litter additive,
- Slurry treatment,
- Water treatment in fish farming
- Manure composting,
- Soil amendment
A farmer will quickly notice less smell when biochar is used in feeding, litter, or slurry treatment. Used as a feed supplement, the incidence of diarrhea rapidly decreases, feed intake is improved, allergies disappear, and the animals become calmer. Co-composting improves both the biochar and the compost. The resulting compost can be a highly efficient substitute for peat in potting soil, greenhouses, nurseries, and other special cultures.
Use as a soil conditioner
- Carbon fertilizer,
- Compost additive,
- Substitute for peat in potting soil,
- Plant protection,
- Compensatory fertilizer for trace elements
The property of biochar as a carrier for plant nutrients can be exploited to produce organic carbon-based fertilizers by mixing biochar with such organic waste as wool, molasses, ash, slurry, and pomace. This biochar application prevents the leaching of nutrients, a negative aspect of conventional fertilizers. The crucial trace elements found in plants (over 50 metals) become part of the carbon structure and are available to plants via root exudates and microbial symbiosis.