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Biochar Production & Application

Heard of Terrapreta soils of Amazon Basin? These are also known as Amazonian dark earth, which are a type of fertile soils found in the Amazon rainforest region. The term "terrapreta" means "dark earth" in Portuguese. It is believed that these soils were formed by indigenous cultures in the Amazon thousands of years ago. These ancient civilizations used a combination of biochar, organic waste, pottery shards and other materials to create these unique fertile soils. The benefits of terrapreta soils include enhanced nutrient retention, increased water-holding capacity, improved soil fertility and long-term carbon sink. Their high fertility and nutrient content make them ideal for growing crops and their ability to sequester carbon could help mitigate climate change. The only way to replicate these soils in any part of world is to add Biochar to the soil.

Biochar

Biochar

Biochar is a type of charcoal that is produced through a process called pyrolysis, which involves heating biomass (such as wood, crop residues or animal manure) in the absence of oxygen. This results in the conversion of the biomass into a stable carbon-rich material known as biochar. Biochar production – is a carbon negative process. Unstable carbon in decaying biomass is converted in to stable form with life of 100 to 1000 years. The biochar so produced is powdered, sieved and added to agricultural soils at a recommended rate, which depends on various factors like feedstock type, production conditions, soil characteristics and crop requirements.

Tender coconut waste, which is generated to a tune of 200 to 300 t/day in Bengaluru city alone, is making its way into landfills. This waste is a potential feedstock for biochar production. We are planning to collect 50 t/day of tender coconut waste from street vendors and produce biochar. With this 750 tons biochar can be produced in a year, which is of agricultural grade. 

 

We are planning to distribute it among farming community, as biochar application to soil has following advantages –

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1. pH regulation: Biochar has a neutral pH, which can help to regulate soil acidity. It acts as a buffer, preventing rapid changes in soil pH and creating a more stable growing environment for crops.

2. Soil improvement: When biochar is added to soil, it improves soil fertility and structure. It has a high porosity, which helps to retain moisture, nutrients, and beneficial microorganisms in the soil. Biochar also enhances soil aeration and reduces soil compaction, thereby promoting healthier root growth.

3. Nutrient retention: Biochar has a high cation exchange capacity (CEC), which means it can attract and hold onto nutrients like nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium. This helps prevent nutrient leaching and makes the nutrients more available to plants over an extended period. Biochar can also help reduce fertilizer requirements by improving nutrient retention in the soil.

4. Microbial activity: Biochar provides a habitat for beneficial microorganisms in the soil, such as bacteria and fungi. These microorganisms play crucial roles in nutrient cycling, organic matter decomposition, and disease suppression, thereby enhancing overall soil health.

5. Water management: The high porosity of biochar improves water retention in the soil, reducing water loss through runoff and increasing water availability for plant roots. This can be particularly beneficial in areas prone to drought or with sandy soils that have poor water-holding capacity.

6. Carbon sequestration: Biochar is a stable form of carbon that can remain in the soil for hundreds to thousands of years. By adding biochar to agricultural soils, carbon is effectively sequestered, helping to mitigate climate change by reducing atmospheric carbon dioxide levels.

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