Maybe our issues with global warming can be solved by studying the different cycles of planet Earth. Research of the carbon cycle is uncovering new and creative ways we can harness the power of nature to lessen the impact of the greenhouse effect. Within this line of inquiry, biochar is taking center stage as a tool for carbon sequestration.
Today, most of our efforts to curb climate change have to do with altering how we live. To illustrate, driving an electric vehicle is a practical way we can help reduce carbon emissions.
Biochar offers an interesting avenue for manipulating the earth’s carbon cycle to reduce the amount of carbon in the atmosphere. This approach to slowing global warming could be an excellent complement to individual efforts such as recycling.
Biochar and Carbon Sequestration
Since the industrial revolution, humankind has greatly altered the balance of the carbon cycle on earth. Soil tilling practices in commercial farming regularly releases carbon into the atmosphere. In like fashion, the burning of fossil fuels expels massive amounts of carbon into the atmosphere that was originally buried deep within the earth.
Carbon levels on earth are regulated through the various components of the carbon cycle. In this cycle, plants and trees remove excess amounts of carbon dioxide (CO2) from the atmosphere through photosynthesis. Residual carbon remains inside plants and trees when they die – eventually contributing to carbon levels in the soil. Without man’s interference, the carbon cycle keeps carbon levels balanced in the earth and atmosphere.
Modern carbon sequestration practices are dedicated to “storing carbon in soil organic matter and thus removing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.”
Biochar is a carbon sequestration tool that is made through a unique burning process known as pyrolysis. With pyrolysis, organic materials are burned while being starved of oxygen. Because the feedstock never ignites, it does not release carbon into the atmosphere. Because it traps carbon that would normally be released into the atmosphere, biochar sequestration offers an interesting workaround for the carbon cycle.
Greenhouse Gas Emission Reduction
Climate change is one of the most important topics in modern society. Whether it be with politicians, environmentalists, or business people, the greenhouse effect and global warming are constantly being discussed on the global stage. Importantly, the carbon cycle, greenhouse gas emissions, and global warming are intimately bound to one another.
Global warming takes place when an overabundance of carbon is released into the atmosphere through practices like burning fossil fuels and tilling the soil. There should always be 3.1 times as much carbon in the soil as there is in the atmosphere. When these scales are tipped and more carbon is in the atmosphere than normal, CO2 (a greenhouse gas) gets trapped. In turn, CO2 hinders the ability of the sun’s heat to escape the earth’s atmosphere in a process known as the greenhouse effect.
With biochar sequestration, people can manipulate the carbon cycle to keep CO2 from plants inside of the ground. The goal of biochar sequestration is to counteract the excessive amounts of carbon we are currently expelling into the atmosphere. According to the Yale Environment 360, “Creating biochar actually reduces CO2 in the atmosphere because the process takes a theoretically carbon-neutral process of naturally decaying organic matter and turns it carbon-negative.”
While we are still learning about biochar sequestration, studies predict it could be extremely helpful in reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Leading universities such as Cornell assert that biochar production could offset greenhouse gas emissions up to 12 percent.
Soil Carbon and Biochar
Biochar is an excellent complement to established practices of carbon farming. With carbon farming, scientists and farmers have developed methods to grow crops with carbon-negative results. In essence, they have been searching for ways to practice agriculture, while also curbing global warming.
Carbon farmers employ several practices to establish carbon-negative results. Of these, no-till practices and covering the ground in plastic sheets are most popular. Each of these methods keeps carbon from escaping into the atmosphere from the soil. Other popular carbon farming practices include “multi-story cropping” and “mulching/compost application.”
If left undisturbed, scientists postulate that biochar sequestration will keep carbon contained for “hundreds or even thousands of years.” However, if the soil is disturbed by phenomena like floods, wildfires, or other natural causes, the carbon could be released back into the atmosphere.
If people use biochar on a massive scale for carbon sequestration purposes, it will require proper planning. After biochar is added to a tract of land, those living in the area must abide by proper soil management practices long into the future.
Hemp Biochar Carbon Sequestration Potential
Today, the hemp industry stands in a unique position. As both a renewable resource and natural medicine, hemp already has the power to change the world. Biochar gives us yet another avenue to utilize hemp as a tool to better the world around us.
Hemp farms are already great venues within which to practice carbon farming. Even without biochar, hemp farms can easily act as carbon sinks. To help in this process, biochar gives hemp farmers even more options for no-till practices. As biochar regulates the slow release of water and nutrients into the soil, it allows farmers to develop living, no-till soils that won’t release carbon into the atmosphere.
With biochar, CBD hemp farmers can take carbon farming practices to the next level by using leftover biomass as biochar feedstock. In doing so, they can lessen the environmental impact of the hemp industry, while also projecting hemp into the future as one of the most sustainable forms of agriculture on earth.
Count on High Grade Hemp Seed for All Things Biochar
At High Grade Hemp Seed, aim to inform our customers about the immense importance of carbon farming and biochar. If you have additional questions about these fascinating topics, please contact us.