The issue of climate change and how we can mitigate it has become a priority factor in the decisions of companies as well as individuals. Recognizing that we can take steps to reduce the release of carbon and greenhouse gases into the environment means we then need to be proactive in doing it. Biochar has shown to have huge benefits in this arena.
When plant material decomposes naturally it releases carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. By processing agricultural and forest waste into biochar through pyrolysis, a larger amount of carbon is prevented from escaping. Over 50% of the carbon content is held by the biochar as compared to 10-20% when biomass is allowed to decompose naturally. The carbon sequestered in the biochar is held in the soil for hundreds of years. Because biochar also has the potential to sequester more carbon than is created in its production, it is considered to be carbon negative.
The decomposing material also releases methane and nitrous oxide. These are potent greenhouse gases that can produce negative effects on our planet through climate change. When the decomposing organic material is turned into biochar instead the release of these gases into the atmosphere is greatly reduced.
Using biochar in agricultural applications has benefits beyond increased plant yields, the reduced need for water and fertilizer, and attracting beneficial microbes. It adsorbs harmful elements in the soil such as ammonia, nitrates and phosphates. It also improves the pH and the stability of the soil while increasing its biological diversity. The ability of biochar to remove harmful chemicals also means that soils once considered unusable and infertile can become productive again.
The use of biochar can become an important part of odor control and waste reduction in landfills and in compost and manure management. It adsorbs the naturally occurring gasses and odors that are a byproduct of these industries. Biochar can also accelerate the composting process while removing disease, pests and pesticide residues which means the resulting product can be beneficially re-used.