Using biochar on your farm
Building up a healthy soil is like setting the foundation for your crops. Every tall and sturdy building starts with a strong foundation. At Nextchar, we are dedicated to helping you build a healthy foundation for your crops. Biochar acts as a building block for healthy and resilient soils. Using biochar is a great way to build long-term soil fertility. Biochar remains in your soil year after year.
Why biochar is beneficial in your soil
-Increases water/nutrient retention due to its highly microporous carbon structure
-Improves soil fertility by providing carbon and a home for soil microbiology to thrive
-Helps to build up organic matter, rather than letting it flow through the soil
-Protects against drought by holding onto water for longer and keeping soil microbes alive
-Protects against heavy metals and toxins
The benefits of biochar stems from its highly porous, carbon structure. 85% of the volume of biochar is open space. That large of amount of open space allows biochar to hold on to nutrients and water for extended periods of time. Water and nutrients get trapped within the open space of the biochar.
Biochar acts as a building block for healthy soil. It provides little nutrients but helps to hold on to nutrients for a longer period rather than letting the nutrients flow through the soil. When biochar is added to soil, it creates a web along with the soil microbes that will hold on to organic matter, nutrients and water for extended periods of time
How to Properly Use Biochar
Analyze your soil
After harvest or before planting season, it is of course extremely important to do a check up on your soil health. When we check on our soil, we usually check for key nutrients like nitrogen, potassium and phosphorus, etc.
There are numerous articles on the internet that talk about soil analysis and properly managing your soil health.
If you have a biochar with high ash content, it will provide a slight liming effect to the soil, meaning it will increase soil PH and reduce acidity. Keep this in mind when you analyze your soil and prepare to add your biochar
Charge it up
Biochar needs to be ‘charge’ before it is added to the soil. This is because of biochar’s ability to soak up nutrients and soil microbiology. Charging biochar means charging it with nutrients and microbiology before adding it to the soil.
If you do not charge biochar, your biochar will suck up the nutrients and microbiology that are in your soil.
There are a few ways to charge your biochar. The most common way is to mix biochar with compost.
A lot of farmers will simply add about 20% biochar to their compost and work the biochar in along with the
compost. This is a great strategy to build long term soil fertility.
If you want to work your biochar in faster, you can use a biochar-compost mix with more biochar.
The whole point of charging your biochar is to add nutrients and microbiology to the biochar before adding it to your soil. This will give the biochar, a super-charged effect. Feel free to come up with your own methods of adding nutrients and microbiology to your soil.
Apply your biochar
Once your biochar is charged, it is ready to be introduced to the soil. You can work your biochar into the soil by tilling or top dressing. If you choose to top dress biochar, make sure to keep the biochar wet so it does not blow away. The biochar will eventually work its way into the soil.
Learn more about the technicalities of biochar in our whitepapers