I'm listening to Paul on a podcast and he's mentioning how biochar is appropriate for tropical soils because otherwise the wood decomposes quickly and in colder climates you can just bury wood for a similar effect. But does that mean uncharred wood has the same microbial carrying capacity as biochar? I thought the whole idea of the charring process was not just to preserve the carbon but also to create all that surface area.
Beats me. I've never listened to a podcast but I'll be doing a bit of biochar here because it's supposed to help with acid soils and mine's down in the low 5s in ph so given the choice of just burying wood or burying biochar, biochar has one up on the plain wood. Biochar is supposed to do good for 1000s of years also. Plain wood? I'm just learning about biochar myself. In fact, I think scientists aren't fully aware of every aspect of it.
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Ben, I'm not all that convinced about biochar serving as a growth spot for microbes. I haven't seen any firsthand documentation, nor firsthand evidence in my own gardens. There's lots of claims made but not much scientific documentation behind them.
I happen to make and use biochar in my gardens. It seems to improve both moisture retention and drainage. Dry areas where there is a goodly amount of biochar stay moist longer. And normally wet areas with chunky biochar drain better. For me the best benefit of biochar so far is for evening out the fluctuating soil moisture level I have to deal with.
I think biochar is just one component to use when working to make my soils productive for food production. I don't see that it's a "magic pill" that will make poor soils instantly wonderful. But I have been able to see a visual improvement where biochar is used. Not pop your eyes out improvement, but rather enough to visually identify.
By the way, I charge my biochar with either urine, manure tea, or compost tea prior to incorporating into the soil. I also often add it to manure containing compost piles as the piles are being made.
I don't make biochar simply for the goal of the char. I cook livestock feed, thus I use a TLUD stove for the cooking. I have a lot of waste tree material, so rather than burn it or bury it off to the side, I convert it. (I also direct some of this wood into hugel-beds and soil building.)
It's never too late to start! I retired to homestead on the slopes of Mauna Loa, an active volcano. I relate snippets of my endeavor on my blog : www.kaufarmer.blogspot.com
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