In a nutshell, biochar is the co-product of a biofuel production process called fast pyrolysis. Essentially, a biomass feedstock is pyrolyzed, or burnt, at a very high temperature and bio-oil is produced along with biochar. The oil can be used for consumer use after refinement similar to gasoline (see Figure 1). Originally, not much thought was put into using the biochar for any practical use, but agronomy researchers believe there is some potential for its use in agricultural settings.
I will be posting a series of threads relating to biochar in the coming weeks. If you have heard of biochar or have any firsthand experience with biochar or materials similar to it (ie. activated charcoal, fly ash, etc.) please post a reply explaining what your experience or use for these products has been. The reason I ask is because I received a question pertaining to whether biochar will deactivate herbicides, fungicides, ect…
*Illustration borrowered from Johannes Lehmann. Department of Crop and Soil Sciences, College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY 14853 (CL273@
cornell.edu) Front Ecol Environ 2007; 5(7): 381–387
Iowa State University