I want to introduce you to a new product that is changing the way many people understand soil amendments. This material is being rapidly adopted by compost producers focused on the microbial aspects of compost. It is usually an ingredient in premium compost and it is called Biochar.
Biochar is recognized for having the following multiple benefits in teh garden (source: http://biochar.pbworks.com/frontpage):
- Enhanced plant growth.
- Suppressed methane emissions.
- Reduced nitrous oxide emissions (50%?)
- Reduced fertilizer requirements (10% less?)
- Reduced leaching of nutrients
- Stored carbon in a long term stable form.
- Reduces soil acidity.
- Reduces aluminum toxicity.
- Increased soil aggregation due to increased fungal hyphae.
- Improved soil water handling.
- Increased available Ca, Mg, P, & K.
- Increased soil microbial respiration.
- Increased soil microbial biomass.
- Stimulated symbiotic nitrogen fixation in legumes.
- Increased arbuscular mycorrhyzal fungi.
- Increased soil Cationic Exchange Capacity (CEC).
What you are seeing is the carbon structure of wood. Think of bees depositing honey inside a hive. The 'honeycomb' would contain nutrients, water and microbes which can feed the plant. This carbon structure has proven to last over 1,000 years in the soil. You can also think of biochar as a sponge with billions of thiny holes to fill, so nutrient charging your biochar while it is in Bokashi or compost tea, will give you great results in your garden much sooner.
While Biochar has been available in the market for 4 years, it is only know that we understand that by itself, Biochar is not nearly as productive as when it is “charged” with microbes. The best way to do this is by including it as an ingredient to the composting process. The concept is similar with bokashi. When we manufacture the bokashi bran, we are including the biochar in the initial fermentation of the bran. We then dry the bran down in sunlight to produce the dry bran you purchase in the stores or farmer’s markets. Alternatively, you can purchase moist bokashi bran from us for a lower price at this page link.
Click here for our page of Biochar related products.
The following excerpt is from the Wikipedia Biochar page:
Biochar is a name for charcoal when it is used for particular purposes, especially as a soil amendment. Like all charcoal, biochar is created by pyrolysis of biomass. Biochar is under investigation as an approach to carbon sequestration to produce negative carbon dioxide emissions. Biochar thus has the potential to help mitigate climate change, via carbon sequestration. Independently, biochar can increase soil fertility, raise agricultural productivity and reduce pressure on forests, though the degree to which results offer long term carbon sequestration in practice has been challenged. Biochar is a stable solid, rich in carbon and can endure in soil for thousands of years.
The picture below shows the difference between two holes dug near each other in Brazil. Biochar was applied to the soil on the right, and not to the soil on the left.
We are now introducing a new product to the market, which will ship just before Xmas time which is Bokashi PLUS. We cannot make any guarantees of delivery in time for December 24th. Bokashi plus differs from regular bokashi because of the premium biological support PLUS provides to your soil. In Bokashi PLUS, we have added additional Azomite, Mycorrhizae and Biochar.
MORE VALUE, SAME WORK
While Bokashi PLUS is for people focusing on improving their soil rather than just a smart way to dispose of surplus foods. By adding the PLUS ingredients to Bokashi, we adding critical trace elements, fungi and housing for microbes to expand their role in your soil. The other main requirements of the soil are nutrients (provided by your fermented surplus food), water and carbon (mulch or leaves above the soil). By incorporating these PLUS ingredients in the Bokashi bran, you don’t have to do any additional tasks to incorporate these great products into your soil.
Including Biochar in your soils results in:
- Improved soil drainage
- More neutral pH
- Reduced soil compaction
- Increased nutrient cycling
- Greater retention of water in dry soils.
- Improved germination rates.
- Improved plant resistance to fungal disease, root feeding nematodes and insect infestations.
If you have reason to belive that your soil may be suffering from toxicity issues, biochar may be a solution for your soils. Activated charcoal is regularly used to purify air and water of their pollutants and the same potetenial of biochar is being recognized in our most contaminated soils. This can apply to mineral toxicity and synthetic chemicals used as pesticides, herbicides, and fungicides. Activated charcoal can adsorbs one hundred to two hundred times its own weight. Through adsorbption, activated carbon can deactivate some herbicides. Activated charcoal and biochar are similar but not the same. Biochar will turn into activated charcoal while in the soil, a process of time.
For more information, you can see the FAQ section of the International Biochar Initiative. Biochar is being actively studied by research institutions around the world, as well as policy making bodies such as teh UN and EU. The Japenese, Germans, and Dutch are leading this field of research.
Here is a link to a good layman's article on Biochar from the Hudson Valley Almanac in NY.