The benefits of biochar in agriculture are multi-faceted. Not only does biochar offer an avenue for farmers to use excess organic materials, but biochar itself is a powerful soil amendment.

At the current rate of food production, agricultural practices are depleting soils quicker than they can be replenished. The rising human population on Earth only exacerbates this problem. As such, we are in a situation where sustainable agriculture is no longer just a trending concept, but rather a necessity for protecting the environment.

Because biochar is a powerful soil amendment, it can help replenish soils that have been diminished through commercial farming. As major proponents of biochar, we’ve put together this brief exploration into the many uses of biochar in agriculture.

Biochar as a Source of Plant Nutrients

Biochar is a fascinating compound that affects nutrient levels in soils in several ways. Depending on the feedstock in question, biochar often supplies nutrients directly to crops. Even more, its high porosity allows biochar to regulate nutrient uptake at the root zone of plants.

People often mistake biochar for compost. However, soil scientists note that “compost is a direct source of nutrients through further decomposition of organic materials.” Conversely, biochar does not break down further in soil, rather it retains its structural integrity as it releases water and nutrients.

Because biochar can be made from any organic compound on earth, it can contain a variety of nutrients itself. Generally speaking, biochar is known to raise soil PH and increase electrical conductivity (EC) around the root zone. Studies have also shown biochar to be a source of nitrogen (N) and phosphorus (P).

Biochar for Soil Fertility and Productivity

Current agricultural practices are depleting the soil of macronutrients nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P), and potassium (K). As farmers continue to practice monocropping without leaving ample fallow time, fields become increasingly unproductive.

The most defining characteristic of biochar is its high porosity and immense surface area. Because biochar is made through a heating process, it resembles charcoal in many of its primary physical traits. The porous surface of biochar provides a “refuge for beneficial soil microorganisms such as mycorrhizae and bacteria and influences the binding of important nutritive cations and anions. This binding can enhance the availability of macro-nutrients such as N and P.”

As an amendment, biochar has the ability to help previously depleted soils regain their vitality. By housing living organisms, biochar helps establish living soil that can be used year after year – without the need for tilling or plowing.

Biochar in Soil Carbon Sequestration

While biochar is an invaluable tool for farmers as a soil amendment, it also has incredible benefits concerning carbon sequestration. Biochar gives us the ability to reduce the amount of CO2 being released into the atmosphere. As such, biochar has the potential to greatly slow greenhouse emissions and global warming.

The carbon cycle is responsible for regulating levels of carbon within the earth and atmosphere. Since the industrial revolution, commercial agriculture practices and the burning of fossil fuels have thrown the carbon cycle out of balance. Today, excess carbon in the atmosphere directly contributes to climate change.

Carbon farming is an agricultural practice where farmers intentionally conduct operations in a fashion that keeps carbon from entering the atmosphere. In essence, these farmers use their farms as “carbon sinks” where more carbon is pulled into the ground than is released into the air.

Biochar offers an intriguing new option for the practice of carbon farming. With biochar, farmers can sequester carbon from leftover plant materials and keep it concealed in the soil far into the future.

Benefits of Using Biochar for Growing Hemp

There are several benefits to using biochar for growing hemp. As seen with other crops, biochar helps regulate water and nutrient uptake for hemp plants.

When biochar has time to work in your soil, it promotes a living community of symbiotic organisms. Because you don’t have to till this living biochar soil, you will save money on farm labor expenses in the springtime.

Hemp crops thrive in sunny and dry climates. Especially for hemp CBD plants, low humidity is critical for growing large flowers without fear of mold and mildew. However, the very regions where hemp plants grow the best oftentimes lack available water.

Using biochar as a soil amendment for your hemp farm will reduce the amount of water you need to use each growing season.

Limitations of Biochar

While biochar uses in agriculture show serious potential, there are a few notable limitations on the product.

Because biochar can be made from compounds as diverse as hardwood and animal manure, it can be difficult to predict how biochar will react when used. In the end, it could be very difficult to match the appropriate type of biochar with the right soil type. However, as biochar production becomes standardized and our knowledge expands, it’s likely biochar can be used with much more accuracy in the future.

Biochar and Sustainable Agriculture

As we learn more about the inner workings of mother nature, we are well-advised to mimic her methods when solving environmental issues. Today, we are in a position where we must admit that established commercial farming practices are untenable in the long run.

Biochar offers an intriguing way to amend soils and return farmland to its original state of productivity. Following processes found in the natural world, biochar gives farmers the ability to grow crops with fewer fertilizer inputs, while also establishing biological communities directly within farm soil.

The grocery market also presents opportunities for farmers interested in using biochar methods. Today, foods labeled as “organic” and “sustainably sourced” fetch higher prices at stores than others. All things considered, rising market demand for organically grown produce might very well be the catalyst to push more farmers into trying biochar.

Contact High Grade Hemp Seed

At High Grade Hemp Seed, we are putting serious resources into learning all we can about the uses of biochar in agriculture. Our team of cultivation experts is thrilled to see where hemp farming takes biochar in the future. Please contact us to learn more.

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.

 

 

The more that science discovers about the properties of biochar, the more uses we seem to find for this incredible substance. Even better, it seems that nearly all uses of biochar are environmentally friendly.

From carbon sequestration to organic farming, there are some amazing environmental benefits of biochar. Yet, with research still in its infancy, it’s important to take a critical look at biochar to better understand its overall risk and reward ratio.

In this brief exploration, we weigh the advantages and drawbacks of biochar production to give you a well-rounded perspective on biochar and its many applications in modern society.

What are the Environmental Benefits of Biochar?

Biochar has the ability to curb global organic waste production, while also improving the ecosystems that regulate our climate. The benefits of using biochar are directly tied to its nutrient retention abilities and high porosity. Because of these physical traits, biochar can be used for jobs as varied as improving soil and filtering water.

Biochar is useful as a soil amendment, bioresource for energy, as well as a tool for curbing climate change. Biochar also shows exceptional promise for the hemp industry as a way to turn waste plant material into a useful commodity.

Biochar Benefits in Soil

Industrial agriculture has had many unforeseen consequences on the environment. Not only do commercial farms contribute to global water shortages, but farming practices also greatly deplete the quality of the soil. Today, studies show many farms are “experiencing a carbon crisis” because tilling practices have “off-gassed 50- 70% of carbon in farm soils into the atmosphere.”

Carbon is critical to soil health. In fact, carbon is often referred to “as the building block of life” because it is so vital in contributing to the structure and fertility of healthy soils. This puts us in a tough position. Primarily because agriculture and energy industries release massive amounts of carbon into the atmosphere each day.

There are many benefits of biochar in soil. By sequestering carbon from the atmosphere and returning it to the ground, biochar regenerates soil with carbon and nutrients. Even more, due to its high porosity, biochar helps farmers conserve water and fertilizers.

Biochar for Water Quality

Increased water retention from biochar makes for better crop growth in regions with limited rainfall and low water supplies. Biochar amendments also reduce runoff and help protect local watersheds and aquatic life. Heightened nutrient retention from biochar amendments aids plant growth in regions with depleted soils. In like fashion, biochar lessens the fertilizers that leach into streams and rivers.

Biochar Benefits as an Energy Resource

Another interesting way that biochar can help the environment is as a renewable source of energy. While there is still a good deal of research to be done on this process, we know that some residual heat is produced when manufacturing biochar.

Biochar is made by heating organic materials to the point of burning, but not allowing them to combust by starving them of oxygen. In this process known as pyrolysis, “about half the chemical energy in the biomass is contained in the biochar, about 40% is used for the conversion, and about 10% may be used as a local heat source.” This extra 10% of leftover chemical energy has the potential to be used as a source for electricity production.

Biochar Benefits and Climate Change

One of the most exciting ways that biochar can be used is in helping curb climate change. More specifically, biochar can help lessen the amount of carbon we release into the atmosphere with farming practices and burning fossil fuels. By reducing carbon in the atmosphere, biochar directly weakens the impact of the greenhouse effect and global warming.

When carbon dioxide is released into the air, it keeps the sun’s heat within the earth’s atmosphere. The amount of carbon we release into the atmosphere has expanded exponentially with such things as industrial farming, energy production, and combustion engines. Scientists postulate that carbon in the atmosphere is responsible for much of the global warming we have seen over the last two centuries.

Biochar can help slow global warming in multiple ways. Not only does biochar production lock carbon into a substance that will remain in the ground, but biochar itself helps stabilize carbon levels in the soil. As such, biochar helps reduce the amount of carbon in the atmosphere, while also promoting the growth of trees and plants that lessen CO2 levels in the earth’s atmosphere through photosynthesis.

Potential Disadvantages of Biochar

The more we discover about biochar, the more uses we seem to find for this incredible substance. Nonetheless, as our knowledge is still somewhat limited, it’s a good idea to further assess biochar benefits and risks.

Some major concerns surrounding biochar are as follows:

  • The long-term effects of biochar usage on a large scale are still largely unknown.
  • Because biochar can be made from any organic substance on earth, the exact parameters of its properties can be somewhat unpredictable.
  • A specific type of biochar that works well in one type of soil might not work well in another.
  • When used incorrectly, biochar can disrupt established biological processes in soil.

While these concerns are certainly warranted, more research into biochar will inevitably help quell any apprehension surrounding the compound.

Hemp Biochar Can Help Save Our Planet

As the hemp industry continues to mature and evolve, we need to start shifting our focus beyond profitability and onto sustainability. With so many applications for biochar in the hemp industry, we are excited to see the integration of biochar production into our farming methods.

Biochar gives hemp farmers the unique opportunity to use wasted plant materials in a constructive fashion. By turning leftover stalks into biochar, CBD hemp farmers can greatly reduce the environmental impacts of their operations. This practice will help reduce global warming, while also improving soil quality at hemp farms.

Contact us today to learn more about the environmental benefits and risks of biochar.

Biochar is extremely unique in its ability to create a new industry from waste materials. Making biochar from refuse curbs the amount of material we put into landfills and lessens the amount of carbon released into the atmosphere through burning.

As our understanding of biochar grows, scientists, horticulturists, and engineers alike are working to develop new production methods and technologies for the compound. Hemp producers are also looking at biochar as a potential new revenue stream sourced from leftover plant materials.

The primary motivations for the hemp industry’s growing interest in biochar are the compound’s many environmental applications. With concepts like global warming taking center stage in global politics, it seems that newfound fascination with biochar comes at the perfect time. Read on to learn the latest on biochar manufacturing methods and technologies.

What is Biochar Made From?

Biochar can be made from any combustible organic compound — most commonly from woods, grasses, or similar plant-based materials. Recent studies show that “biochar production [now] include[s] crop residues from agriculture, forestry, municipal solid waste, food, and animal manures.”

In western regions of the United States, biochar is being cultivated from dead trees. Over the last two decades, pine bark beetles have killed millions of acres of trees in Colorado, Wyoming, and Montana. While the scale of this devastation is difficult to accept, it is refreshing to see manufacturers actively finding ways to put some of this “beetle kill” to good use.

While you could grow a crop such as hay strictly for biochar manufacturing purposes, the real selling point of biochar is the fact it can be made from waste materials. Therefore, biochar offers a compelling option to commoditize plant material “leftover” after a harvest. An example of this would be producing biochar from cornstalks after the valuable ear is harvest.

How is Biochar Produced?

As our understanding of biochar develops, so do our methods of biochar production. Biochar is most commonly made through a unique process called “pyrolysis.” When making biochar with pyrolysis, organic materials are heated to temperatures hot enough to burn them. However, the biomass is starved of oxygen so the material never actually combusts and burns. Because the biomass never actually burns, it retains the carbon that would otherwise be released into the atmosphere.

While pyrolysis is the original method for producing biochar, scientists have invented a few other ways to create the compound. Nonetheless, these alternative biochar manufacturing methods are still largely inspired by the fundamentals of pyrolysis.
Each type of biochar manufacturing includes the constituent elements of feedstock, time, heat, and pressure. However, biochar production methods vary with such things as manufacturing tools and types of feedstock.

Asides from pyrolysis, types of biochar production include:

  • Hydrothermal Carbonization
  • Gasification
  • Torrefaction and Flash Carbonization

Modern Biochar Manufacturing Technologies

Each biochar manufacturing process has its own essential tools and equipment. Whatever the type of production, these technologies are each dedicated to creating the right environmental conditions for creating biochar.

Pyrolysis Reactor

As the name implies, pyrolysis reactors are one of the primary biochar manufacturing technologies used for the process of pyrolysis. There is not a single dedicated “type” of pyrolysis reactor. Rather, the term is used to describe the various containers people use to heat and pressurize feedstock without oxygen. Vessels used as pyrolysis reactors include kilns and bubbling fluidized beds.

Hydrothermal Carbonization Reactor

Hydrothermal carbonization is used to produce biochar from fresh, wet biomass. This product is also referred to as “hydrochar.” Hydrothermal carbonization reactors are used to heat wet biomass to 180-250 deg C. After the biomass is heated, the reactors then allow the evaporating liquids to escape to a separation chamber. From there, the liquid is eventually dried into hydrochar.

Biochar Made From Hemp Waste

As seen with other forms of agriculture, CBD hemp farmers are looking for a way to commoditize their organic waste materials. After CBD-rich flowers are harvested from hemp, a vast majority of the actual plant biomass is leftover. These stem, leaf, and root materials are either tossed into a landfill or burned. Needless to say, both situations present serious environmental hazards for the hemp industry.

While hemp farmers are showing interest in biochar as a potential revenue stream, there is not much data available on the actual properties of biochar made from hemp. Currently, universities are conducting research to better understand factors like nutrient density and porosity characteristics of hemp biochar.

Biochar Made from Flax

As we continue to wait on more information regarding the characteristics of hemp biochar, we can look to similar materials to get a glimpse of what to expect.

Flax and hemp fibers are nearly identical and easily mistaken for one another. With so many structural characteristics in common, it is safe to assume that hemp biochar will resemble flax biochar on a structural level.

Here are some interesting facts surrounding flax biochar:

  • Extremely small porosity (excellent water retention capabilities)
  • High nitrogen content
  • Biochar can be made from flax fibers or seeds

If hemp biochar resembles flax biochar as much as one might expect, it shows serious promise as an organic soil amendment.

Wrapping Up

As our understanding of biochar grows, so do our methods of production. With a growing interest in biochar as a renewable resource with profoundly beneficial environmental traits, scientists are expanding on new ways to make biochar.

Biochar is one of those amazing compounds that has endless applicability in today’s society. Not only can we produce biochar from waste materials, but biochar itself is a rich soil amendment. This fact makes it a great tool for organic farming, as well as soil regeneration in damaged ecosystems.
As the hemp industry continues to research biochar, it will be fascinating to see how we will learn to utilize the material in the future.

Contact High Grade Hemp Seed

At High Grade Hemp Seed, we are continuously searching for new ways to improve the hemp industry. We are extremely proud and excited to be on the cutting-edge of the new hemp biochar manufacturing space. If you have questions about how to make biochar from hemp, don’t hesitate to contact us!

As people search for solutions to environmental issues, the answers are sometimes hidden in plain sight. In fact, nature itself often holds the keys to unlocking some of our most challenging environmental issues. Biochar is a naturally occurring substance that has the potential to reduce agricultural waste and curb global warming.

The natural world is extremely complex — we are just beginning to scratch the surface in understanding how our oceans, forests, and grasslands operate on a microbial level. In woodlands, natural forces such as wildfire work in unison with the decomposition of organic materials. This interconnected network of processes leads to a complex system of regeneration that is responsible for plant growth the world over.

Within circles of environmentalists and horticulturists, biochar is gaining serious recognition as a carbon sequestration tool and organic soil amendment. Farmers are also taking notice of biochar hemp and looking to the substance as a potential source of revenue.

What is Biochar?

Biochar is a naturally occurring material that resembles charcoal in many of its physical attributes. It is made by burning organic materials such as wood, leaves, and grasses in a very specific way.

Biochar is created through the process of pyrolysis. According to the USDA website, “Pyrolysis is the heating of an organic material, such as biomass, in the absence of oxygen. Because no oxygen is present the material does not combust but the chemical compounds … that make up the material thermally decompose into combustible gases and charcoal.”

Because biochar does not fully combust, it retains the carbon that would normally be released into the atmosphere with combustion. As such, it offers a legitimate way to capture carbon that is otherwise released with burning organic materials.

Biochar is a great option for CBD hemp farmers looking to turn stalks and other excess plant material into a sustainable commodity.

What is Biochar Used For?

Biochar is useful on many fronts. On the environmental side, it offers a great way to dispose of organic materials without adding carbon to the atmosphere. When it comes to using biochar, it is an extremely beneficial soil additive that has many applications in agriculture.

Biochar is a useful soil additive because it retains beneficial nutrients and has a unique molecular structure. Whether you are growing hemp or food crops, it will help your soil in the following ways:

  • Regulate nutrient release
  • Heighten water retention
  • Reinforce soil structure
  • Increase porosity
  • Enhance electrical conductivity
  • Boost microbial activity

When all of these elements are taken together, they paint a picture of biochar as a sort of miracle

substance in the world of agriculture. Due to its porosity, it reduces excess water runoff in commercial agriculture. Not only will biochar save money on water expenses, but it will also reduce the amount of fertilizer you need to purchase each year.

By keeping water and nutrients close to a plant’s root zone, biochar also increases microbial activity in the soil. In the end, this process leads to healthy living soils that can be reused year after year.

Types of Biochar

Biochar can be made from nearly any organic wood or plant material on Earth. However, when producing biochar to be used as a soil amendment, manufacturers generally focus on specific feedstocks.

Biochar behaves differently depending on what type of material it is made from. For example, biochar made from straw will retain a different level of nutrients than biochar made from hemp stalks. In like fashion, different varieties of biochar have unique porosity characteristics and subsequent water retention capabilities.

Biochar made from wood is an effective soil amendment that can be used anywhere in the world. However, while wood biochar has excellent water retention capabilities, most varieties lack the available nutrients found in plant-based biochar.
Biochar is also made from plants like grass, hay, and straw. This type of biochar has more available macronutrients — like nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium — than wood biochar.

While research on biochar from hemp stalks is still in its infancy, it will likely behave similarly to wood and plant-based biochars.

Growing Hemp for Biochar

As the hemp CBD business continues to grow and evolve, companies are still figuring out the logistics of this new market. As such, the hemp industry is continuously reinventing itself with best practices. Of these, finding new revenue streams and ways to reduce waste are always at the top of the list for hemp farmers.

Whether you are growing industrial hemp or CBD hemp, there is a good deal of organic waste that must be dealt with at harvest time. Turning hemp plant byproducts into biochar could create an additional revenue stream for hemp farmers, while also reducing the amount of waste material coming from each hemp farm.

Hemp and Biochar for Sustainability

Biochar from hemp stalks is environmentally friendly in several ways. Not only is it made from plant materials previously considered waste, but it also helps sequester carbon from the atmosphere and return it to the soil.

Biochar could be particularly impactful for the hemp CBD industry. As CBD hemp plants are strictly cultivated for their flowers, each harvest comes with a good deal of wasted plant material. When you include the legal cannabis industry in these figures, the numbers can be quite astounding. To illustrate, studies show that Washington State produced nearly 500,000 lbs of cannabis plant waste each year from 2014-2017.

Biochar offers a great way to keep hemp and cannabis plant material out of the landfill and turned into something useful.

Due to the unique way hemp biochar is created through pyrolysis, it is burned without releasing carbon into the atmosphere. As such, hemp biochar is also a powerful carbon sequestration tool that can help reduce the greenhouse effect and global warming.

Count on High Grade Hemp Seed for All Things Hemp

At High Grade Hemp Seed, we are fascinated by all the ways hemp can benefit the earth. Biochar is another great example of how hemp can be used to help solve some of our most difficult environmental challenges. Contact us today to discuss hemp cultivation and sustainability in more detail.