Biochar is charcoal made with the intention of incorporating it into the Earth. Making and using biochar has many benefits.
Firstly, it can be used as part of a soil fertility system.
Secondly, biochar is relatively stable, it takes a long time to decompose. Adding biochar to soil is a method of long term carbon capture.
Thirdly, the smoke which is produced when making biochar contains flamable gases. These gases contain around 70% of all the energy within a piece of wood. Rather than releasing these gases unburnt into the atmosphere, creating a pollution problem, they can be burnt and used for example for heating and cooking.
Our interest in biochar is that it can help people who are ready and willing to put in the effort to reclaim responsibility for their actions and start to meet their needs without over stretching the Earths carrying capacity and in ways which build soil by stabilising carbon in soil; the reverse of current practices of meeting our needs in ways which release carbon and other pollution into the sky.
We are therefore only interested in biochar as a product of biochar producing heat sources used within closed loop agroforestry systems in which both food and fuel crops are grown alongside each other.
Not all biochar is produced by heat sources used within closed loop agroforestry systems. There may be other ways of producing biochar in ways which enable people to move towards a fully sustainable life footprint, we are only describing the systems which we use. Biochar, for us, is one small but vital component in creating systems whichallow us to live in harmony with our environment.
For those people interested in making biochar, the making biochar stoves pages give designs for simple pyrolisis stoves. An easily made stove suitable for camping and outdoor use is the tlud. Alternatively, several companies are now making and selling these stoves.
Combining features of a rocket stove with those of an anila stove produce a biochar rocket stove which does not need feeding or lighting from the top and which produces biochar. This biochar rocket stove has the advantage over other pyrolisis stoves as it can be left in place under a heater or oven. The heating and cooking page discusses methods of efficiently catching and using the heat produced from making biochar.
Our intention is to give information to encourage people to work towards using biochar stoves within agroforestry or other agroecology closed loop systems. Once biochar stoves are used to replace conventional heat sources, the biochar can be used in ways which mimic some of the conditions under which Tera Pretta, the black earth of the now extinct Amazonian Indians, was made.
Conventional agroforestry systems mimic some of the features of natural forest systems. In forests, the top soil is often very shallow and fragile, prone to rapid decomposition. These Amazonian Indians used biochar in systems which we know little about to create rich, high carbon, stable, very deep top soil in an evvironment where natural top soil is only about 10cm deep and fragile.