Biochar a natural absorption material – Earth Biochar

Earth Biochar

Our biochar is made from clean pruning of agricultural wood, blended and charged with our rich compost. Using high pyrolysis temperatures, we produce a highly porous, sponge-like biochar which maintain good air-water balance in the plants root zone. Our biochar-compost culture media creates a healthy ecosystem which reduces pathogen prosperity from a single pest and disease outbreaks. The physical and chemical properties of our biochar-compost culture media provide consistent water-nutrients reservoir which guard your plants during stress events.

Earth Biochar is a young subsidiary company of Compost Or, specialized in treating various organic materials using pyrolysis to develop a variety of biochar products.
We develop two basic biochar products lines: Our first product is an agricultural soilless growing media and the second product line are absorptive materials for neutralizing contaminations.

Nowadays biochar is considered a new and interesting material for agriculture, gardening and other uses but it is worth knowing that it has centuries-old origins. In fact, it was first discovered during geological studies in the Amazon forests in Brazil (and later in other regions of the world and even in the Mediterranean).

The researchers examined the mystery of a defined fertile areas for local agriculture in the poor rainforest soils.
These fertile areas were called “Terra Preta de Indio”, the black soil of the Indians. It turned out that this soil has a thick layer (approx. 50 cm) of charcoal blended with other composted organic materials. This rich black layer was created for centuries by the indigenous Amazonian tribes using a traditional method of burning and charring piles of organic waste (food scraps, plants, Human faeces, etc.). The researchers found that the char is a key component of the Amazonian soil fertility.
Since it was born, the new term – “Biochar” –has greatly attracted researchers worldwide and its research led to a deep understanding of the mechanisms of biochar activity in the soil.

What is Biochar?

Biochar is a charcoal that is specifically produced as a soil amendment.

Biochar is a charcoal that is specifically produced as a soil amendment. Biochar is a carbonized organic material (such as wood) which is 100% of atmospheric carbon. It is also a very stable material which can stay for hundreds of years within the soil, as a practical method to reduce greenhouse gases and global warming. Due to its high absorption capacity Biochar has other industrial uses such as soil and water filtration and purification.


How is Biochar produced?
Biochar can be produced from any organic material.
Usually the main source for biochar is pruned wood wastes such as agricultural and ornamental plants. but it can be produced from additional organic materials as animal and human wastes as did the inhabitants of the rain forest. It is important to know that the kind of organic matter has a decisive effect on the properties of the acquired biochar. There is not single biochar but several kinds of biochars each with its own unique properties and functions.


How do we produce our biochar?

To produce biochar, organic matter (for example wood) is placed into a closed oxygen-free carbonization container which is then heated at high temperature. The heat breaks down the organic chains of the wood that begins to release short molecules of flammable gas – this is the smoke we see in a regular fire. As there is no oxygen in the container, the wood does not burn but carbonize.

In advanced production facilities such as we use, the released flammable gas mixture enters a combustion chamber and thanks to an external air supply, the gases are burned into it as efficiently as a fuel engine. The heat generated in this combustion chamber continues to heat the carbonization container, this way most of the process takes place using the energy present in the organic matter, without the need for an external energy source such as fuel.

The process of wood breakdown by heat without oxygen is called: pyrolysis (pyro=heat, lysis=decomposition).

What’s so unique about it?
The biochar obtained at the end of the pyrolysis process is a substance that is made of almost pure carbon. It is a lightweight material thanks to its high porosity (like a sponge) and has a surface area of hundreds of square meters per gram of char. In addition, the biochar surface is covered with positively and negatively charged molecules. The combination of a large surface area and electric charge turns the biochar into a material with high absorption capacity to many substances. In addition, the water-holding capacity of quality biochar is almost equal to its volume. Usually the PH of biochar is alkaline. Finally, biochar has good electrical conductivity properties which serves as catalyst which accelerate chemical reactions in soil. Each one of above features enables diverse and many uses for biochar. The sum of them is what makes biochar so unique material.
New Biochar is very ‘hungry’ material, you should feed him.

As mentioned above, biochar has a high absorption capacity to many substances thanks to large surface area and electric charge. Therefore, we first “load or charge” the biochar with nutrients (preferably compost but even mineral fertilizers works good) and then we can apply it into the soil at the root’s depth. The biochar prevents the fertilizer from leaking under the roots therefore increases its availability. Likewise, the good water absorption of the biochar provides available water reservoir for the root and prevents dehydration of the soil during dry events.

What is the difference between biochar and BBQ charcoal?

Basically, there are two major differences.

  1. The type of raw material- usually, high density trees such as citrus, oak and similar are being used to produce heating/BBQ charcoal, while biochar can be produced from a wide range of organic matter whose texture is not suitable for heating.
  2. Production temperatures- BBQ charcoal is produced at relative low temperatures (350°C-450°C) where the charred wood on one hand, contains relatively high energy content (some of it are phytotoxic molecules), but on the other hand has low sorption capacity (which is not important during BBQ). Alternatively, Biochar is produced at relative high temperatures (550°C-650°C) therefore its energy content is low (and clean from bad molecules), has a very porous structure and high sorption capacity respectively.

It is also essential to understand that BBQ charcoal produced in traditional charcoal kilns is both an environmental pollutant and leaves toxic substances in the charcoal that may harm life in the soil.

Biochar enhance microbial activity in the soil
Since biochar absorbs nutrients and water, it provides optimal environment for microorganism’s growth in the soil. Hence, a large variety of microorganisms develops and populates the biochar pores like a huge residential building. We now know that increasing the diversity of the microbial population in the soil creates a healthy ecosystem and reduces disease outbreaks in the soil from a single pest. Another advantage is the increased availability of plant nutrients from microbial activity of the biochar.


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