There is growing interest in using biochar to improve soil moisture, organic matter, and crop yields. Biochar is basically reducing carbon from wood to a charcoal-like state and then using it to amend the soil. I first heard about biochar in some studies of ancient Incan agricultural fields. I then heard about some interest in conventional agriculture to apply the concept of biochar to large-scale production. For example, in rice production there is typically alot of carbon left after the harvest that is usually burned off, contributing to the problems of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere and climate change. If the carbon that was once considered waste could now be considered a resource to improve soil quality and yields, we would all benefit.
We have an interest in the small scale application of biochar. When we use the horno mud oven, we typically “drown” the fire and seal off the horno with mud. It seems like these conditions are conducive to the creation of charcoal and biochar. We gathered the charcoal left over from the horno-cooking process to test its application. We screened this “biochar” into two size classes: coarse and fine. The coarse charcoal will be used in experiments to test its effect on moisture retention in the soil and yield. We understand that it is important to inoculate the biochar with compost and water before its use in the soil. The fine charcoal will be used in trials for water filtration. We will be doing trials on garlic and maize production this year. Stay posted for the results of these trials, we are excited about the potential results!