Farm News: Biochar touted as key soil management component

Erin Rasmussen

Larry Kershner/Farm News news editor, July, 2010

When David Laird, standing in a corn test plot, said Tuesday evening that biochar not only repaired damaged soils for crop production, but was also a key component in long term crop sustainability in fertile soils, a murmur rolled through the listeners.

He pressed on.

"The idea of the biochar is to maintain soil quality, while maintaining yield."
(emphasis added)


He said biochar is applicable for redemption of sandy, depleted, eroded or damaged soils. He said there is also application for urban areas where bulldozers have compacted the topsoil.

"We anticipated seeing benefits (of biochar) in depleted soils," Laird said, "But we're seeing that in better quality soils, biochar becomes a component in maintaining a sustainable system."

To be used, biochar should be incorporated into the soil of a garden or farm field. It should be mixed in gently so as to prevent killing worms. Biochar could make-up five percent to 10 percent of the soil when the job is done, but it should not all be mixed in at once. Two or three years of adding smaller amounts seem to work better.

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