Hypotheses of biochar’s role in the development of fertile soils have become strong arguments in favor of its intentional soil application. However, field research trials demonstrate a range of results that contrast overwhelming yield improvements in some places with neutral or even negative results in other places. The mixture of hype and science has clouded the search for a mechanistic understanding of soil biochar additions. Appreciating the fact that biochar materials produce widely different results depending on soil, climate and type of biochar, the question remains: How does biochar work in soil?
by Haiko Pieplow
In South Korea, in spite of rapid industrial growth, the millennia-old tradition of using biochar has been retained. From kimchee production to functional bathroom sculptures, from sauna décor to natural farming, the tradition of charcoal use in South Korea transcends time and inspires anew. Unlike in Western biochar research, the focus is on biochar’s involvement in biological processes. Biochar plays an increasingly important role in the closure of material cycles, especially in conjunction with the rich culture of fermenting food and the use of bokashi to ferment organic waste.
By Hans-Peter Schmidt and Paul Taylor
A simple but ingenious invention finally allows each farmer and gardener, everywhere in the world, to produce for themselves a sufficient quantity of high quality biochar. With reasonable investment and some know-how of the charmaker’s craft, farmers can produce in one afternoon a cubic meter of high quality biochar. This democratization of biochar production will be a key strategy to closing the agricultural production loop for small farmers.