Use in Agriculture

Produced from a variety of biomass and agricultural wastes, biochar has enormous potential for helping the environment and enhancing the agricultural economy. When used as a soil amendment, biochar has been shown in certain soils to boost soil fertility and improve soil quality by trapping moisture; attracting more beneficial fungi and microbes; improving cation exchange capacity; and helping the soil hold nutrients as well as absorbing heavy metals and pesticides. Therefore, biochar has the potential to increase crop yields; reduce the amount of chemical fertilizers needed; and minimize the adverse environmental effects of agrochemicals on the environment. Because of these properties biochar has been proposed to have beneficial use in other agricultural applications such as use in water filtration and as an additive in livestock feed to reduce methane emissions.

However, these benefits are not seen in every agricultural application. Some soil studies have shown that biochar has no effect or even a negative effect on productivity due to various contaminants that can be produced during the production process.

Center scientists have conducted a number of studies using biochars’ use in agriculture to determine its viability as an agricultural product and tool.