Biochar Comprehensive Guide - What is Biochar and its benefits

BIOCHAR COMPREHENSIVE GUIDE – WHAT IS BIOCHAR AND ITS BENEFITS

This guide will help to know what is Biochar and its benefits

What is Biochar?

Biochar is like a charcoal substance that has been using as a soil conditioner or
soil amendment for a long time. These substances are used for both soil health
benefits as well as Carbon sequestration.

Biochar may be a stable solid, rich in carbon, and may endure in soil for thousands of years. Likewise, most of the substances such as Biochar, Charcoal are obtained from Biomass;(Biomass is the fuel that’s developed from organic materials, a renewable and sustainable source of energy that is used to create electricity or other sorts of power required for the welfare of mankind) via pyrolysis. The particular word is derived from the Greek language where pyro means “fire” and lysis “separating”.

Thus, Pyrolysis can be defined as the thermal decomposition of material over an inert temperature. Pyrolysis can be used in certain purposes such as treatment of organic materials as well as charring woods.  Biochar can be used for the fertility of certain acidic soil (to low down its pH), leads to the increment in the agricultural productivity as well as to give them a kind of protection against some foliar and soil-borne diseases. Keeping in mind the definition of Biochar in term of production; Biochar can be termed as the solid material obtained from the thermochemical conversion of biomass in an oxygen-limited environment.

History of Biochar:

The word Biochar is a Greek word which was derived in the late 20th century; Bio means “life” Char means “product of carbonization of biomass, as charcoal”. It’s simply a Charcoal but has been using in certain applications. Majority of the industries produce Biochar by the process of smouldering of agriculture wastes (to cover the burning biomass with a heavy layer of soil).

It is still unknown if they deliberately used Biochar to enhance the fertility of the soil.
According to research by the World Health Organization WHO, a Biochar can be used to feed approximately ten million people annually. In the modern world, we are now on the verge to rediscover the importance of Biochar as the world is
staggering under the effects of climate changes, environmental degradation as well as poverty.

Why is it so valuable?

The main threat to food security around the globe is the change in the climate.
While using Biochar in the production of yield crops, Farmers will get benefits in
the following ways:
➢ Healthier Soil
➢ Lowering soil acidity
➢ Higher fertility
➢ Stronger plants
➢ Less contamination
➢ Promotion of seed germination

Environmental benefits of Biochar

Biochar for Climate Change Mitigation
Soil is considered to be dynamic and diverse, playing a vital role in the supporting communities of plant, detritophage communities, microbial communities, interacting with nature; regulating water cycle and much more.

By using Biochar within the soil, it can be beneficial for addressing climate change. According to research on the use of biochar in the current era; it is clearly demonstrating that there simply is no “one-size-fits-all” biochar solution.

Reducing pollution of waterways:
Availability of biochar in the soil serves as a reducing agent for the pollution. It is used to increase the retention of nutrients such as phosphorus and nitrogen within the soil, helps in decreasing nutrients present in the underground water by overcoming its erosion. When we control the loss of nutrients within the soil, it will ultimately increase the nutrients available for the cultivation of crops. The process of reduction in the nutrients leaching off capacity has been verified in many greenhouse studies.

But as far as soil erosion is concerned, there is no special studies and seminars has been conducted for that yet it can be considered that the soil with many nutrients dissolves in it are not likely to be eroded as compared to those nutrients absorbed on the surface of soil amendments.

Scrubbing of air pollutants with biochar amendments:
According to research on the use of Biochar in the current world, it has been noticed that the addition of biochar into the soil leads to the scrubbing of greenhouse gases such as CO2, sulfur oxides and nitrogen oxides from gas which
decrease their emission from its surface.

During an exothermic process of Biochar, CO2 is emitted o the surface of biochar. This process could play a vital role in the reduction of carbon emissions in the environment due to the burning of fossil fuels. Similarly, the process of precipitation results into the making of biochar which highly rich nitrogenous content that could be more helpful and eligible to be used as a substitute for nitrogen-based fertilizers.

Reduction of hazardous materials of the environment
Biochar is a substance that is highly efficient in the sense that it has the ability to sorb huge environmental encirclement for the soil. Eventually, most of the organic pollutants are being sequestered by the use of biochar to change their
effect on the environment. Due to its nature as a resisting agent to the microorganism, biochar acts a critical binding phase within the atmosphere (environment).

There are two types of organic matter in the biochar such as Carbonized and Non-Carbonized which play an important role in the process of sorption (the physical or chemical attachments of a substance with another according to the law of diffusion)

Agricultural Benefits of Biochar

Many studies explained that the application of biochar on the soils can increase the content of organic matter in the soils and thus improves the fertility of the soil as well as the production of yield crops. By applying Biochar within the soil, it will
increase its nutrients capacity, better soil texture, more porosity as well as more
surface area.

Due to the large surface area of the Biochar, it will enable microorganisms to pass through its tiny pores which are beneficial for the fertility of soil as well as binding of anions and cations with some static attachment.

According to many types of research by the scientists and botanists, many evidence was given which were clearly demonstrating that the addition of biochar to the soil increases its crop-growing capacity, quality of water improvement, reduction in soil leaching, reduction in the acidity of the soil, more water retention and decrease
in fertilizer use. With the presence of such nutrients in the soil ultimately increase its uptake towards several plants.

Improving soil for crop production
Some processes that are related to the production of bioenergy fashioned to have negatively affected the land and leads to the maximum amount of removal of biomass from the surface of the land. Such a bad procedure has an adverse effect on
the productivity of soil, causing habitat destruction, as well as offsite pollution. These kinds of problems can be better resolved by applying biochar into the soil through pyrolysis (Pyrolysis can be defined as the thermal decomposition of material over an inert temperature.).

Moreover, biochar can be highly recommended in the process of restoration of soils fertility as well as productivity of yield crops over a certain area. The advantages and properties of using biochar within a certain area and life span are not limited but it can serve to be persistent in the soil for almost two to three years.  The particular paragraph is clearly demonstrating that if we take a look of land that is not used for the production of energy resources can be used to increase the fertility of the soil that will help in the reduction of pollution.

Nutrients Availability in Soil:
By adding biochar into the soil, it will definitely increase soil texture, its density, give it more porosity as well as good structure. The application of biochar into the soil increases the pH of the soil and enables the soil nutrients capacity by bringing more potassium and phosphorus. Thus, the result from the particular study is clearly demonstrating that the effect of biochar is more expected on the soil having macropores.

Increase in the production of the crop:
Increase in the production of crops is possible due to the increase in the soil fertility by applying biochar, the maximum growth of seeds and yielding of crops is always possible due to the addition of biochar as compare to the soil with no
biochar.

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Many Botanists explained the need of biochar for the fertility of the soil. A study revealed in the mid of 19th century that the addition of biochar into the soil increases its growing capacity by 12-14% without the use of any fertilizers and
proper aid.

Differences between Biochar and Charcoal

The word Biochar is a Greek word which was derived in the late 20th century; Bio means “life” Char means “product of carbonization of biomass, as charcoal”. It’s simply a Charcoal but has been using in certain applications whereas charcoal
is hard and solid in nature; a kind of useful fuel mainly used of cooking and heating.

This is the process in which solid substances such as woods or other biomass is broken down through a slow heating method converting it into the carbon and other useful chemical compounds. Generally, we can describe charcoal as a dire need in developing countries where they meet their needs by following such substances rather than those who use these materials for barbeques in the developed nations.

Though, the use of charcoal in the current world is a hazard for both the environment as well as human health. Charcoal stands to be better fuel for cooking than woods. Not only this, but the production of charcoal is more important for the local people to achieve their bread and butter on a regular interval. Charcoal serves to be the principal source of income in some areas. Since some families don’t have any other source of income except introducing
charcoal substances into the market.

Production of Charcoal:

A large number of woods are cut down and are converted into the sugar-cane size. These cane-sized woods are then pile up in a closed container. Generally, a  wood structure such as charcoal piles is used. In the absence of oxygen(O2), the
woods are heated within these piles.

The purpose to heat these woods would allow the woods to ignite and burn away. Since there will be no oxygen at all, hence these woods would be forced to decompose into a variety of substances one of them is Charcoal.

Many other substances such as ash etc. are also produced which are then collected as a by-product. During this, the woods are heated. It absorbs heat and dried down these woods, giving away moistures in the form of water vapours. Once the woods are dried, they start to decompose, giving off CO2 and CO including many other chemicals. While the temperature of the wood is increased, it will form charcoal.

At the temperature of 400 degrees, charcoal is formed. Heating these woods on more than its requirement causes the removal of tar from the surface of the woods resulting in the formation of best quality charcoal.

Problems affiliated with charcoal:

There are many problems that are affiliated with the burning of charcoal as a fuel. Many health issues are formed due to the release of smoke during its production method. These health issues such as pneumonia, stroke, heart disease, and lung
cancer. According to a study by WHO, around 4 million people die every year because of the hazard condition caused by the production of charcoal as a solid fuel.

In addition, the life span of forests is also decreasing due to a decrease in the number of woods and vice versa. The continuous decrease in the number of forests leads to a decrease in the amount of oxygen in nature.

As we are more familiar with the phenomena that plants are really essential for human life in many regards. Moreover, charcoal is also inefficient and dirty in nature, creating a large number of black soot. Production of charcoal produces a large number of heat in the environment resulting in Global Warming.

Conclusion:

The application of biochar in the aid of the field in increasing soil fertility, improving soil texture, improving sorption for nutrients which is helpful in the reduction of using fertilizers which ultimately decrease the pollution through fertilizers leeching off.
It is always helpful in crop production and yields.

One of the huge advantages of biochar is that it’s helping in combating with climate change by escaping CO2 from the atmosphere. It can also be used for the rehabilitation of destructed landforms. Not only this, but it can also serve to be the roots cause of economic stability and growth. Thus, the use of biochar is highly recommended to introduce it in the agriculture methods.

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