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Does biochar lose its charge if it dries out?

 
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I had some leftover biochar from last year that I charged with compost tea.  It's not 100% dried out yet, but should I attempt to charge it again or just use it as it is?
 
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You have likely lost most of the nitrogen in it.  And some of the life will have died.  Most of the rest should still be there stored ready to act as little nutrient vitamins for your plants.
 
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I like to view biochar as a sponge. It pulls in and releases over time as it is in the soil.

We 'charge' the biochar so it has something to give to the environment when it is incorporated into soil instead of adding it without anything and it starting to pull from the environment before it hits a sweet spot where it is in stasis.

Once the biochar is added to the soil, that allows microbes to move in and everything to incorporate.

Gut feeling, If I was worried I would recharge the biochar before adding. If it still had some moisture to it I would probably just add it as is.
 
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It's a good question, Michelle, and I think the answer is "it's complicated." The main thing to remember is that biochar, once it's got water in it, is really hard to dry out completely. So as long as the nutrient sources and microbial communities are in there, they're probably fine. Some nutrients might get consumed or depleted over time, and some bacteria or fungi might go dormant if conditions aren't optimal (like at the surface where things might have dried out). But all the basic stuff is still in the matrix and as soon as it's in soil it will do its thing.

Soil biota is a complex dynamic system. All we're doing when we inoculate biochar is setting some initial conditions that prime the environment for a series of interactions that we ultimately have no control over...but that's OK because the effect is more activity in the soil.
 
Michelle Heath
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Thanks so much for all the responses.  When I went to inspect it, the biochar was more dried out that I'd thought so I added some comfrey tea to it and will let it sit a few days.
 
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just mix it in the soil and plant something, it will be fine.
 
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Compost tea is great. It has lots of diverse microbes in it. However, it doesn't really have food in it.  Biochar is great in a system, but it is not an ecological system in itself. If you leave it for awhile, it has likely lost nearly all of the life and dried out.  After adding compost tea, it should be placed into a live ecology right away.  Then you are taking advantage of all of the life that you've put into it, and it should thrive as a healthy part of the ecosystem that you put into it.

John S
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