How to Make Biochar for Soil Health
- posted on: October 19, 2021
- posted by: Rebecca Jordan
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This article was written by guest writer Neha Krishnakumar.
Climate change is real, and it’s affecting all of us today. As citizens of this world, it’s our responsibility to prevent a future that could be devastating.
On a positive note, there are ways that each of us can make a difference. Yes, even hobby gardeners can make a difference with a simple solution: biochar.
What is Biochar?
For starters, biochar is derived from organic material, such as twigs, dry leaves, or coffee grounds. After burning the organic material with very little oxygen, it transforms into biochar, a porous black substance. The biochar can then be mixed it into soil to improve soil fertility for thousands of years!
After the biochar mixes with the soil and improves the soil quality, the soil sequesters carbon, reducing the need for greenhouse gas-releasing chemical fertilizers which contribute to climate change.
Why did I choose Biochar?
A year ago, I didn’t even know what biochar was. Here’s how I learned about it and why I became so interested in it:
How can you make biochar on your own?
At home and with a little outdoor space, it was relatively simple for me make a biochar kiln with materials available around friends’ homes and backyards.
To make your own kiln, here’s a detailed instructional video on the kiln that I made using materials donated from 21 Acres and supplies I gathered at home.
Here’s how you can burn organic material and make it into biochar. Be sure to use caution when dealing with fire in an outdoor space.
How can you help?
There are many ways that you can help support biochar initiatives for soil health and carbon drawdown.
1. Try it out yourself: If you’re interested in using biochar, why not go for it? Building a kiln and making biochar can be fun–make it a social activity by building it with friends who also want to improve their soils! I thoroughly enjoyed the process with my family and friends.
2. Spread the word: In my experience, biochar is a relatively uncommon concept and people who don’t work in agriculture and climate science are often unfamiliar with it. When I talk to people about it, they’re usually curious and want to understand more, which makes me want to educate more people about this innovative solution. If more people start teaching others about biochar, soon it can be a solution that can be used by many all over the world.
3. Volunteer and buy food from local farmers: By providing support to local farmers and ecological projects, biochar can be built on a large scale to make a bigger difference in our soils, farm by farm.
We can do this together! I’m so thrilled to be teaching others about biochar and its benefits. If you have questions about the process, want to know more about biochar, or are curious about my project, please reach out to me at neha.mkrish [at] gmail.com. Thanks to 21 Acres for supporting my Girl Scout Gold Award Project and giving me the platform to share my passion for biochar!
About Neha Krishnakumar
I’m Neha, and I’m currently a high school senior in the King County Area. In my free time, I enjoy reading and watching fiction, playing the violin, and working to help make my community a better place. Aside from this Gold Award project, I’ve co-founded a non-profit called RainyDayChefs to feed people experiencing homelessness. I became interested in climate solutions around 2 years ago, after taking AP Environmental Science at my high school, and learning about the devastating impacts of climate change that are bound to arise if we don’t make an impact now. I would like to mention my mentor Samuel Abiven at Ecole Normale Supérieure, Paris for inspiring me to learn about biochar and guiding me through the process of creating it. I would also like to thank Robin Crowder of 21 Acres for believing in me, and being my project advisor throughout this Gold Award journey.