In its most simple essence, biochar is biomass that’s been charred, but is not intended for fuel, rather for biological purposes, mostly as a way of enhancing characteristics of soils and potting media that are beneficial to plant growth. Soil Organic Matter (SOM, humus) is generally thought of as partially decomposed organic matter that’s reached a point of relative stability, and has been used over centuries by nature and man at different levels between the portions of SOM that had been charred at some point and those that hadn’t, Charing of biomass occurs naturally during wildfires and is thus deposited in the soil. Once charred, the biomass becomes resistant to biological decay and can remain a part of the soil makeup for millennia.
Our planet is literally covered in charred biomass or if you prefer bio char. It’s normally found in small amounts with some notable exceptions, such as the famously fertile soils of the Midwest (Iowa’s soils have an average of more and 30% of the SOM as biochar) or the pockets of soil found in the Amazon Basin and referred to as Terra Preta. The Terra Preta soils appear to the most outstanding of humankinds’ utilization of biochar. Hundreds of years ago, the native populations created pockets of rich, fertile soil that sustained large civilizations and lasted far beyond their demise. These soils lay buried beneath the forest and became the catalyst that helped modern science recognise the importance of charred biomass as a component of soil.
Well-manufactured biochar can exhibit characteristics highly desirable for use as growing media. The charring process leaves behind only the carbon scaffolding. This can be a lightweight and extremely porous material, riddled with capillary tubes that served as transport for food and water within the living plant material. It can exhibit a very high surface area with the variable surface change, lending it great ability to adsorb water and plant nutrients. Its porous nature and surface charge characteristics can directly translate into dramatic increase in water and nutrient efficiency when used with soil or potting media. Increases in total biomass, in yield, in growth rate and in overall plant health have all been observed where Biochar has been applied, sometimes in order of magnitude above the comparison.
Temperature matters – to the naked eye char is always some shade of black, but beyond that is a wide spectrum of possible characteristics that depend upon the temperature and process with which it was made. This can make the difference between a material that’s either harmful or beneficial to plant growth! The horticultural charcoals of the past (and even present) were not produced with the benefit of current knowledge and will typically not compare with modern biochar products.
The structure of the original biomass carries through fairly well into the Biochar created. For example, biochar created from soft woods or grasses will end up feeling simular to perlite and vermiculite, respectively. Biochar’s produced from the harder woods and nutshells will end up feeling more like cinder or even gravel (though with a much, much, higher functional surface area).
Regen Biochar is produced from sustainable waste timber resources using only selected hardwood species, and produced via a patented high temperature method at 900 degrees centigrade with steam injection. This method increases the beneficial bio oil levels and increases the natural water holding capacity and CEC levels, the higher the negative charge and the more captions that are exchanged with plant roots will increase nutrient and water retention. Returning carbon to the soil is nature’s way of repairing the damage done by man.