The benefits of using biochar in the agriculture and environment include increases the retention of nutrients like nitrogen and phosphorous in the soils, and help to reduce the leaching of nutrients of soil into the groundwater.
All the associated benefits of water retention, nutrient retention, and overall soil fertility because of biochar’s long-term persistence in soil are longer lasting compare to common fertilizers.
What is Biochar?
According to Wikipedia Biochar is charcoal that is produced by pyrolysis of biomass in the absence of oxygen and it is used as a soil ameliorant for both carbon sequestration and soil health benefits. Biochar is a stable solid that is rich in carbon and can endure in soil for thousands of years.
Collecting and converting waste biomass to biochar, and adding that biochar to soils help removes carbon dioxide (CO2) from the atmosphere.
But not all is the same as biochar made from manure will have a higher nutrient content than biochar made from wood cuttings.
What are the Benefits of Using Biochar?
Below we’ll present you few of the most important benefits of using biochar that can be utilized in many aspects of the agriculture, constructions and bio energy.
1. Increase in the Production of Crop
In agriculture it is important to make the nutrients in the soil available to the plant when the plant can benefit from them, but most of the time fertilizers can only be applied early in the growing season.
Biochar in soil has significant effects on soil micro-organisms. Its properties to hold well nutrients like nitrogen and phosphorous in the soils make it perfect for application in soils and helps nutrients uptake by plants to increase, and significantly growth rate.
2. Reducing Pollution of Waterways
Biochar can be used alone or mixed with other components for stormwater filtration applications including application in bioretention or swale systems, in existing treatment systems such as sand filters, filtration media in new treatment systems.
Biochar can reduce water erosion and nitrate leaching and filters urban runoff, adsorbs organic pollutants, and reduces pesticide losses.
3. Improvement of Soil Fertility
Biochar can improve the texture and structure of your soil and increase crop yields grown in degraded soils. The various impacts of biochar can dependent on the properties of the biochar, as well as the amount applied.
Biochar has high potential as a sustainable product for increasing soil health and fertility in agricultural soils.
4. Improves Water Retention and Drainage
Biochar is great for soil material in many locations due to its ability to attract and retain water. This is possible because Nutrients such as agrochemicals, and phosphate, are retained for the plants benefit keeping them healthier, and less fertilizer leaches into surface or groundwater.
5. Reduction of Soil Acidity
Acidic soils are a growing problem and impacting more than 50% of soils used or suitable for agriculture. The cause for this is the human activities. Biochar application is found to impact the increase in soil pH from moderately acidic to nearly neutral pH values.
6. Capturing and Storing Carbon
According to studies is believed that biochar can be used as a solution to the CO2 problem. When plant is left to compost, it produces CO2, but if it is turned into biochar, and then added to soil, can absorb CO2.
This would lead to a net withdrawal of CO2 from the atmosphere, while producing consumable energy.
Researchers have estimated that sustainable use of biochar could reduce the global net emissions of carbon dioxide, methane, and nitrous oxide by 12%.
7. Adsorption of Soil Pollutants
Studies have shown that different biochar have different capacities to reduce the heavy metals in plants and the concentration of metals in soil solutions.
biochar application to contaminated soils reduces and immobilises metals, however there are some concerns that can have a major impact on organisms and the environment due to the presence of volatile organic compounds within the biochar.
8. Increase Plant Disease Resistance
Biochar is a pyrolytic porous solid byproduct of thermal degradation (at temperature < 700°C) of organic materials (crop residues, wood chips, manure, etc.) in the near absence of oxygen. The approach of using biochar seems to be a promising to increase plant growth, crop productivity and resistance against several plant diseases.
It can help induce plant systemic responses to foliar fungal diseases and to improve plant responses to diseases caused by soilborne pathogens.
The effectiveness of the application of biochar in the control of plant diseases has been attributed to its alkaline pH, which contributes to the growth of beneficial microorganisms and increases the availability of nutrients.
9. Use as Insulation
The benefits of using biochar find its way into applications such as protection against electromagnetic radiation, decontamination of earth foundations, humidity regulation. Its ability to absorb water up to 6 times its weight and extremely low thermal conductivity make biochar a perfect material for insulating buildings and regulating humidity.
It can be used to replace sand in lime and cement mortars and to creates indoor plasters with breathing properties and excellent insulation. These properties also help to maintain humidity levels in the summer and winter at 45 – 70% in a room.
10. Treatment of Wastewater
Waste sewage contains valuable nutrients such as organic matter, phosphorus, nitrogen, and elements that can improve soil physical properties and, increase crop yields. However, the presents of heavy metals and other toxic/dangerous compounds could affect soil and threaten human health.
Biochar offers simple, cost-effective strategies to treat wastewater and help decrease carbon footprint. Biochar technologies can be used to increase productivity in the treatment of domestic wastewater. In an experiment, the wetland with biochar was more efficient as compared to the wetland with gravels alone.